Today Jaclynne Hamel, Ontario Liberal candidate for Sault Ste. Marie, released the following statement regarding Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford’s announcement that he is against increased immigration to Northern Ontario.
“I find it deeply disturbing that Mr. Ford would make these comments – and I think we all want to know if Mr. Romano feels the same way. The Sault faces a future demographic challenge that we will need to address. By undertaking initiatives that encourage more immigration to Northern Ontario, we would not only be working to address our challenges, but would also be attracting a vibrant and diverse population. In Ontario, diversity is our strength and it is unfortunate that Mr. Ford does not seem to think so.
It’s unclear how Mr. Romano would address these challenges, especially given the comments of his leader today. I find it concerning that Mr. Ford talks about “taking care of our own” first, and I am curious as to who he refers to when he says this. The Sault Ste. Marie I know welcomes and embraces all. There is no room for this sentiment in our community.”
In April, Sault Ste. Marie hosted the Northern Ontario Large Urban Mayors (NOLUM) meeting. Community leaders from North Bay, Sudbury, Thunder Bay, and Timmins joined Sault Ste. Marie civic leaders to discuss issues of concern for the North. A product of this meeting was Northern Ontario mayors calling for the federal and provincial governments to partner on an immigration pilot project, similar to the Atlantic Immigration Pilot. Later, Sault Ste. Marie City Council brought forward a motion to support this call.
Northern communities have a demographic challenge on the horizon. According to Ontario’s Ministry of Finance, Ontario’s population is expected to grow, but Northern Ontario is projected to see an overall decrease of 797,000 to 782,000 between 2016-2041.