With the region's birthrate continuing to decline, immigration might be the only way to see growth in Northwestern Ontario.
Thunder Bay Multicultural Association executive director Cathy Woodbeck said by 2030 the birthrate in Northwestern Ontario is expected to be negative. That's not good news for small towns that are seeing a rebirth in mining and forestry but don't have the populations to fill all of the new employment opportunities that come with it.
"We will never be able to fill those positions without immigration," Woodbeck said.
It's the reason that Immigration Northwestern Ontario relaunched its website Tuesday morning in an attempt to attract new people and businesses from across the globe.
It's also hoping to get underemployed people in other parts of the country to see that they can afford to buy houses and live in small towns throughout the region on much less than they could in major Canadian cities.
"How they can afford to live here for a much better price," Woodbeck said.
Originally launched in 2010, the website has been critical for Red Lake, a town with more jobs than people. From mining engineers to coffee shop servers, immigrants from places like Puerto Rico and Mexico have found employment through the portal website.
"It's an important part, a very important part for us," Red Lake economic development officer Bill Greenway said.
But more help needs to come as Red Lake will see two new mines in the next couple of years along with a sawmill in nearby Ear Falls. Those three projects alone will open up more than 600 new jobs Greenway said.
The website is also giving small business owners who want to retire a chance to find new owners. Woodbeck and Greenway said there are a lot of success stories already in Northwestern Ontario where new owners have been found through immigration. That helps those new families stay in the region and also bring more family members to the area.
"Once you have great successes in immigration you'll see other people come," Woodbeck said.
The website can be found here
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