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Policies needed

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A headline in Friday's Chronicle Journal read “Economy relies on people." It could have read "It's the population, stupid.”

Our biggest challenge across Rainy River District, and all of Northwestern Ontario for that matter, is attracting immigrants to take up jobs in our communities.

Somehow, we need to develop policies to keep more young people in our communities, attract more indigenous people into our communities, attract more students to take courses at the Confederation College and Seven Generations Education Institute campuses here in Fort Frances, and welcome more newcomers to our district.

The statements make it sound easy when, in fact, for decades we have been challenged with out-migration as our youngest leave for colleges and universities or jobs in other larger centers in Canada, most never to return.

We took it as a natural way of life.

Across the district, a great deal of land lies silent waiting to be turned into crops besides poplar. Is there an opportunity to attract new farmers to the district to grow more of the crops that are being developed for our climate?

Is there an opportunity to use the hog fuel boiler that's currently sitting idle here in town to generate power and heat a huge greenhouse complex growing vegetable year-round for Northwestern Ontario consumers?

Might it be possible to attract foreign tech talent, who are worried about being deported from the U.S., to locate in our district and work remotely to offices in Minneapolis, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, Atlanta, and many other large urban centers south of the border?

Might it be possible to expand Seven Generations Education Institute to create a much bigger complex in Fort Frances and Couchiching First Nation to attract a larger population of students to our community.

We also will need those facilities to change the skills of our existing population.

The world is changing. We constantly are adopting new technologies that are changing the jobs that exist today.

Sunday night on “60 Minutes,” during Scott Pelley's segment on artificial intelligence, it was suggested that AI would replace 40 percent of the jobs that currently exist in the world.

How will we adapt to that change?

—Jim Cumming

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