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Field Law brings ideas and energy to Opportunities North 2017
Creating and expanding economic opportunities for northern communities in Canada

As Canada’s economy continues to slowly recover from an ongoing global downturn, questions remain about how our country will address longstanding issues of unemployment and a lack of opportunity in our northern communities.  

As a business in Canada’s North with a deep commitment to reinvesting back into the communities we operate in, Field Law takes the critical issues facing this region seriously. We know that part of solving this challenge means collaborating with others, including community leaders, local businesses and governments. Communal discussions must be held around the challenges facing this region because solutions cannot be created by one group alone. And, these solutions need to be collaborative ones that secure buy-in from everyone at the table.

Opportunities North 2017 is one example of this. The event is an annual joint initiative of both the Edmonton Northern Partnership and the EdmontonNorthwest Territories, and Yukon Chambers of Commerce.

As a sponsor of this three-day conference, we saw the convergence of individuals and organizations from many different industries and geographies to address critical issues in the North including:

  • Agriculture
  • Business growth
  • Health
  • Innovation
  • Reconciliation
  • Unemployment

Field Law team members, business, government, and community leaders from across Western and Northern Canada participated in a thought leadership discussion and explored ways in which northern workforce development can be supported.

Consistent themes arose from the discussions, including how business can help to address gaps in current workforce capacity across the territories. Ultimately, participants worked towards suggesting better, more proactive identification of business investment opportunities that would benefit both the businesses and the individuals living in Canada’s North.

Additional themes that emerged at the Field Law-led thought leadership table included:

Education

Perhaps the most critical point around education was that changes in the North are not going to happen overnight. As a firm with lots of experience with managing sophisticated changes and evolutions in the business world, Field Law knows that true growth comes from sustained, dedicated investment of time and other resources. In Canada’s North, business and government may need to direct their time and money towards early childhood development and education, and keep these efforts going generation to generation.

Investment

The cost of living and operating in the northern territories is expensive. The private sector has a two-fold role to play. Firstly, business could advocate to the government to drive down the costs, reducing taxes and promoting job growth. Secondly, the private sector could consider a longer-term investment strategy, possibly sacrificing levels of productivity today to secure greater benefits in the future.

Training and education

Many participants felt that the private sector should make it easier for employees to access basic training opportunities. At Field Law, we know the value of investing in our employees, whether through formal educational opportunities or workplace training initiatives. However it may be done, it is critical that employers remember to direct some of their resources back into learning opportunities for staff.

Encourage personal responsibility and ownership

Employees want to feel like they are forging their own professional futures, and also need to be given the opportunity to cultivate a sense of responsibility and ownership of their career development.

What’s next?

Like all major issues, the question of how to improve employment and opportunity prospects in Canada’s North can’t possibly be addressed overnight – or even at a three-day conference. To continue moving forward, we need to get everyone involved. Collaboration is at the heart of Field Law’s culture – it is how we provide our clients with the solutions they need to move their businesses forward.

We know that collaboration will be key when it comes to addressing the opportunity issues in Canada’s North. We want to hear from you – how can Canadians better support northern businesses and their workforces to identify and activate the opportunities that will propel them forward? Share your suggestions on #OppsNorth and #FieldLaw.