The 11 Northern Ontario districts require a comprehensive, co-ordinated, and inclusive newcomer attraction and retention strategy.
This is the key finding in the second commentary in Northern Policy Institute's “Northern Attraction" series, by author Christina Zefi, entitled "Identifying Northern Ontario's Strengths and Weaknesses in the Attraction and Retention of Newcomers.”
The commentary highlights the challenges in attracting newcomers such as the lack of collaboration between governments and organizations, the greater focus on settlement efforts as opposed to recruitment, and a weak sense of community.
The paper also highlights the strengths of Northern Ontario from a newcomer perspective. Necessities such as food, shelter, and clothing are, for example, more affordable here than in Southern Ontario. Newcomers have a higher percentage of their income free for other things.
Recent immigrants in the north also have a higher labour participation rates than in other parts of the province.
Continuing to attract international students to Northern Ontario also can assist in the economic growth of northern communities.
“Northern Ontario's current international students are beneficial to Ontario because of the diversity they bring to education, research, campuses, and communities," Zefi writes. "They can enhance the learning environment through varying perspectives, experiences, and languages.”
The paper notes that the process of attracting and retaining newcomers, which includes both immigrants and secondary migrants, is not the responsibility of a single entity.
Rather, it involves multiple actors found in the community and in government, such as Local Immigration Partnerships (LIPs), Settlement Agencies, Professions North/Nord, Réseau du Nord, and more.
The commentary concludes with several recommendations to improve the attraction and retention process, some of which include:
- developing a regional approach to newcomer attraction and gathering greater support from communities;
- targeting newcomers from specific countries and communities; and
- marketing Northern Ontario's strengths, diversity, and potential.
Other commentaries in the “Northern Attraction” series will be published in the coming months. These will explore other immigration programs that could be implemented—and how our communities can attract newcomers.
Read the full commentary, “Identifying Northern Ontario's Strengths and Weaknesses in the Attraction and Retention of Newcomers,” at www.northernpolicy.ca/northernattraction2