Jim Wilson paid a visit to fellow cabinet member Vic Fedeli’s home riding of Nipissing and said that the number of vacant storefronts in downtown North Bay “is disturbing.”

Wilson, Ontario’s Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, spoke after a roundtable he hosted with Minister of Finance Vic Fedeli. The event was sponsored by the North Bay and District Chamber of Commerce and was attended by local small business owners.

Wilson said the area surrounding Queen’s Park is bustling with construction activity, its skyline dotted with cranes. To see the empty stores really hit home, said the minister.

Wilson said the problem of high unemployment rates and not enough skilled workers and labourers is a common refrain across the province. A challenge unique to North Bay and area is finding suitable employment for the spouse of the skilled worker.

He says cutting red tape and corporate welfare is a priority in the south, whereas cutting the red tape in the north ranks high, so does movement on rail and potentially creating a program designed for those spouses who cannot find work.

“There are northern problems and northern solutions but now we have to deliver,” says Wilson. “The Premier has told us that.”