THUNDER BAY – Reports that newstand sales of magazines in the United States fell over the past ten years by 47.5% should not come as a massive shock. Society is making the move away from paper, both newsprint and fine paper, as their primary source for information. We are, collectively shifting toward electronic means of getting information. From Facebook, Twitter, to online news, the Internet and new technology is replacing older technology.
For Thunder Bay, and Northwestern Ontario, the reality can be seen in the number of paper mills in our region having fallen over the past decade.
They could have been seen in the rheams of top quality paper that couldn’t find purchasers from both Thunder Bay Fine Papers and Superior Fine Papers.
The message is one that should be received loud and clear across our region. While it is easy to blame sky-high rates for electricity, the truth of the matter is consumers are making the choice to shift from paper, and therefore there is less demand for paper. Mills have closed across North America in many areas with lower electricity prices than Ontario.
As an ardent newspaper and magazine reader in the past, today, like many others, I get my news online more than anywhere else. Second for news would be television news networks. Personally, I can’t remember the last time I purchased a magazine. Its likely been about five years. How about you? When is the last time you bought a magazine?
So what? What are the solutions to the challenges facing our region, and facing Thunder Bay?
The solution will, I suggest, be found in our region’s high schools, at Confederation College, and at Lakehead University.
The real challenge for Northwestern Ontario is to be making sure that our young people – all our young people – are getting the education they will need to prepare them for the future. It means science, math, and computers are going to be increasingly important. It means we have to adopt new ideas and policies that will not leave students behind and unprepared for the future.
Think of it as our real and greatest challenge.
It is also likely the long-term solution for many of the problems facing our community. People who have degrees tend to get jobs. They tend to ignore drugs and alcohol. They tend to be active and positive members of society.
Right now, we are looking to solve problems with committees, commissions, and studies. The solutions will be found when we start realizing our future lies in innovation, creativity, engagement and most importantly; Education.
Over the past century, Canada has been the “hewers of wood and drawers of water”. We have taken our mineral, and forestry bounty to make Canada wealthy.
In the future perhaps it will be innovation and technology that make the people in our region wealthy. That one factor, the attitudes of leaders and people in our region will have more impact on our future than anything else. Come on now, you must be asking yourself, how can attitudes be more powerful than the hundreds of millions of dollars of economic potential in the Ring of Fire?
Its easy. Long after the minerals are mined what will be left? Our attitudes and our people. For our real long-term success Northwestern Ontario has to embrace a positive attitude of change and innovation.
But all of that takes a dedication to education bigger than ever before.