Sudbury, the hub of Ontario’s mining sector, continues to have the worst labour market of Canada’s 33 largest cities, according to this month’s edition of BMO’s Labour Market Report Card.
The city, founded on the back of Canada’s booming nickel ore industry, has since become a poster child for the struggling commodities market with its population only growing 0.2 per cent and employment falling 7 per cent versus last February’s numbers.
The city stood at 33 on the list with unemployment at 8.4 per cent, nearly a point and a half higher than the national 7.2 per cent unemployment rate.
“Cities have to achieve a certain critical size before they can rely on their own internal circular economy to take hold,” says Rafael Gomez, director of the Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources at the University of Toronto.
“If single industry doesn’t lead to other spin offs and grow a city size beyond a level of several hundreds of thousands of people then when the one or two industries close you’re trapped because those industries were essentially creating the viability of every other service sector job there.”
While the Greater Sudbury Area’s economy has grown to include other services like retail and healthcare, roughly 36 per cent of those employed in Ontario’s mining sector calls the region home. Nickel, a key ingredient in steel, was the worst performing commodity in 2015 losing nearly 42 per cent of its value.
Gomez points to other resource-driven economic centres – like Saint John, N.B. in 30th place and unemployment at 8.3 per cent; Thunder Bay, Ont., in 29th and 6.5 per cent unemployment; Saquenay, Que., in 28th with unemployment rates at 7.6 per cent; and St. John’s, N.L. in 25th with unemployment at 6.7 per cent – which despite efforts to diversify their economies still suffer from their long-running ties to a single industry.
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