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Northern Ontario’s population surges at record rate


Our region’s population is growing at record numbers, according to recent Statistics Canada numbers, with many communities seeing their highest influx of residents in years.

Amid concerns of population decline, regional officials see this is as a sign of an improving northern economy. That could mean worries of a dwindling northern population appear to be reversing course, based on the latest estimates.

Statistics Canada said Greater Sudbury is leading the growth chart, with more than 7,000 new residents since 2021 and the city’s largest year-over-year increase on record.

North Bay and Sault Ste. Marie each saw around 5,000 newcomers and Timmins saw its first population increase in more than a decade, with 2,000 new residents.

Smaller communities are also seeing increases.

Adding up the districts of Algoma, Nipissing, Cochrane, Timiskaming and Sudbury, the region has grown by around 24,000 people – a roughly five per cent boost in two years.

Regional officials attribute the growth to mining developments across the northeast.

"From the mine itself, but also to the many suppliers, now, that are opening up storefronts, said Danny Whalen of the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities.

Whalen said workers that would otherwise travel from elsewhere are looking for more balance.

"Two weeks away is a long time, if you have a newborn or young family, trying to get them to school," he said.

"It's a tough life when you're doing it that way. If we can encourage them to move locally, then we'll take them."

In Timmins, immigration from overseas, as well as southern Ontario, have been the key drivers, particularly the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot and a Canada-wide workforce attraction program.

"It is one thing to bring immigration to Canada, but the government understands that we need to bring them out of the GTA, for example, in Ontario, and bring them to northern Ontario," said Noella Rinaldo from the Timmins Economic Development Corporation.

"For a small municipality, even to bring in five families is a significant economic impact," Whalen said.

Adding that any infrastructure pressures will ease over time – with these updated numbers, including for temporary residents, helping identify local needs.

"It's important to see that we've looked at all those aspects, from housing to everything that they need, when someone comes here and know that it is a big, complete picture," Rinaldo said.

"We can take that into account when we're looking at infrastructure. Things like bus routes, things like housing, obviously. That definitely helps us, when we're looking for funding."

"We'll do whatever we can to get you here and we'll adapt one to here," Whalen said.

Regional officials call this a net positive and expect the trajectory to continue, as industry projects promise economic boosts and bring more workers and families to northeastern Ontario. Top Stories

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