Thunder Bay·Audio

Public sector jobs fuel Thunder Bay's economy: CEDC report

Thunder Bay's economy depends heavily on the public and institutional sector, a report from the Community Economic Development Commission says.
Community economic development commission CEO Doug Murray says the forest industry still provides a lot of jobs overall in the Thunder Bay area. Eight of Thunder Bays nine biggest employers are in the public or institutional sector. (Jeff Walters/CBC)

Thunder Bay's economy depends heavily on the public and institutional sector, a report from the Community Economic Development Commission says.

Only one of the city's nine biggest employers is in the private sector.      

Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre tops the list with about 2,700 employees.

The public school board, Lakehead University, the city of Thunder Bay and the Ontario government follow in order.

Murray added public sector jobs provide a good wage.

"That's not a bad thing to have in Thunder Bay. There's a lot of good jobs tied in with health care,” Doug Murray said.

The private sector is only represented by Bombardier.

The days of heavy manufacturing in pulp and paper and sawmills are gone, Murray said. However, the forest industry still provides a lot of jobs overall, he added.

"If you put everything associated with what Resolute does in this end of the world, and put them altogether in a room, we would be tapping further up the top-10 list."

Looking ahead

Currently the CEDC is focusing on building relationships with European companies interested in locating here. Other opportunities include potential new mines needing suppliers.

"So, things will happen around us,” Murray said.

“It's just a matter of are we going to be in the right spot, and do we have the right labour force and the right tools to help these other communities grow their potential, right? ... As different communities in northern Ontario grow, it has a benefit to all of us."

While these new opportunities could translate into new jobs, Murray noted there are jobs that are currently vacant.

"In Thunder Bay, right now, we're looking for 200 truck drivers. Yet people say they can't find work,” he said.

“Of course, you need a little bit of skill set with a truck driver. You need a clean criminal record, and you need to be able to get across the United States border. Those are jobs that are paying $50,000-$70,000 a year. Yet, we can't get people to work in them." 

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