Welcome to the Rural Ontario Institute

The Rural Ontario Institute develops leaders, initiates dialogue, supports collaboration and promotes action on issues and opportunities facing rural Ontario.

About Us


2015 Wm. A. Stewart Lecture Featuring Mark Cohon

Join us on March 26th, 2015 at 7pm, for an evening with Mark Cohon, former CFL Commissioner. Tickets on sale now!


Advanced Agricultural Leadership Program - Class 16 

AALP Class 16 runs from September 2015 - April 2017. Applications are being accepted now! 


Infographic: Who does what in the Ontario government?

ROI and three other organizations partnered to bring a look at the Ontario government: an overview of structure, responsibilities, main programs and ideas on how to engage. Thanks to the Ontario Nonprofit Network for making it happen!

Population change is topic of 3rd set of Focus on Rural Ontario fact sheets

This set of Focus on Rural Ontario fact sheets looks at components of rural population, immigration and migration. The biggest factor for non-metro population change is migration, usually from the neighbouring census division, but also from across the province and country. Read the fact sheets here.

2nd set of Focus on Rural Ontario fact sheets look at urban/rural employment rates

The 2nd set of Focus on Rural Ontario fact sheets focus on employment rates in non-metro (rural), compared to Ontario as a whole and metro (urban) Ontario. Unlike the other provinces, the employment rate in non-metro is about the same as in metro. Read the fact sheets here.

Rural/urban incomes explored

These Focus on Rural Ontario fact sheets show that rural incomes have been rising steadily since 1997 with the exception of a slight decline in 2009. The gap between rural and urban average income has been closing since the year 2000 but the gap remains at $5,048. Males still make more on average than females, but rural females are closer to their urban counterparts. Read the fact sheets here.

The value of non-profits to Ontario

The Ontario Non-Profit Network recently produced an infographic showing that non-profits contribute to vibrant communities thoughout the province. Almost 1 million Ontarians work in a non-profit organization and over 5 million Ontarians provide volunteer service (equalling about 100,000 jobs)! Click on the image to see the full infographic.



Rural Transportation Forums

Join us at one of three half-day forums to hear recent case studies of effective rural transportation approaches in Ontario and an analysis of business models and financing sources for cost-shared rural transportation systems. Then, take part in facilitated small group discussions.

To learn more, click on one of the forum links below. Forums are hosted by the Rural Ontario Institute in partnership with Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition. This project has received funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation an agency of the Government of Ontario.

June 16, 2014 at the Walkerton Community Centre

June 20, 2014 at the Orangeville Best Western Plus

June 23, 2014 at the Brockville Convention Centre


ROI's Annual General Meeting coming up June 18, 2014

Everyone is welcome at our 4th AGM at the Marden Community Centre on June 18, 2014. There will be a short business meeting and then the opportunity to hear two of Ontario agriculture's favourite gentlemen (Peter Hannam and Ken Knox) talk about "Leadership Lessons."

RSVP to Arlene Warner at 519-826-4204 or awarner(at)RuralOntarioInstitute.ca

Questions of importance to rural and small town Ontario 2014

ROI received a very strong response when we asked subscribers and followers to complete an online survey of rural priorities so we could ask questions of the provincial political parties. Nothing like an election to focus attention! Over 200 people responded.

Once the top ten priorities emerged, we framed a set of questions that any rural citizen could use in dialogue with their local candidates. We encourage everyone to be informed on where their candidates stand on these broad questions, as well as on matters of regional and local significance. 

We have sent the questions to each of the four main political parties, providing an opportunity to articulate their rural platform and proposed initiatives specifically around these priority topics.  We will post their responses here – stay tuned.  

The top five priorities emerging from our survey respondents were …

* Job opportunities

* Healthcare: access to quality medical services nearby

* Youth employment/underemployment

* Services for aging population:  aging in place/home care/housing

* The cost of electric power

Full results are available here


Let's find out how each party plans to address rural issues!

Looks like we are going to the polls on June 12. 

The Rural Ontario Institute wants each of the political parties to articulate how their platforms address rural priorities.To help formulate these “questions of importance to rural Ontario,” please take a moment to respond to this short survey and let us know what YOU think are the priorities.

Survey closes Wednesday May 7, 2014.

Helping organizations to be "more like people" - Webinar and Conversation

The Rural Ontario Institute is hosting an online webinar and in-person conversation with Liam Barrington-Bush, author of Anarchists in the Boardroom - How social media and social movements can help your organisation to be more like people. Liam will discuss the lessons social movements can provide for not-for-profit organizations striving to create positive changes in their communities. Liam will challenge us to critically examine the workings of our own organizations – how we interact internally and how we interact with our communities – and will make the case for why and how they could be ‘more like people'. To learn more and register follow the links below:

In-person conversation at 10 Carden, Guelph

Online Webinar

First-ever Rural Ontario Summit being held March 3, 2014

Working to Build a Healthier, More Prosperous Rural Ontario.

A report on the day's events entitled Toward a Sustainable Rural Ontario is available here.

On March 3, the Rural Ontario Institute, in collaboration with the Ontario Ministry of Rural Affairs, will host the first-ever Rural Ontario Summit in Cobourg, Ontario. In-person attendance is by invitation only, but interested stakeholders and the general public are encouraged to participate in the Summit via live stream, live chat or social media.

This summit is an important opportunity to discuss the social and economic infrastructure issues that will shape the future of rural Ontario. A broad range of experts from academia, business and economic development, municipal governments and the broader public sector will contribute to this important discussion. More here

AALP Grads first to receive Advanced Standing in U of G's Masters Programs

Sylvain Charlebois, Associate Dean Research and Graduate Studies in the College of Management and Economics at U of G says, “This is the first time advance standing has been granted to any of our Master’s Programs. We believe that the AALP curriculum provides the real-life learning required to succeed in either of our MBA or MA programs.” Read more here.

Memorial Fund established for well-known ag entrepeneur Dean Tiessen        

AALP Class 10 grad Dean Tiessen was the victim of a senseless crime in Brazil in December 2013. His classmates have set up a Memorial Fund to keep Dean's memory alive with upcoming AALP classes. Read more here

Rural Forums on Youth Employment being held in Chesterville and Brantford

Rural Ontario Institute is hosting two Rural Forums to discuss the high-priority issue of youth employment in Ontario. They are both 1/2 day sessions and will explore collaborative approaches for improving the impact and outcomes of youth employment programs. Both Rural Forums have a great lineup of speakers as well as facilitated small-group discussions. The Chesterville Forum is Friday, February 7 and pre-registration is required by clicking here. The Brantford Forum is Tuesday, February 11 and pre-registration is available here.

Can rural Ontario learn from rural Germany?

ROI's own Norm Ragetlie and German rural consultant Jens-Martin Gutsche presented a webinar that provided an overview of rural Ontario, based on our recent Focus on Rural Ontario fact sheets and a look at some innovative rural planning happening in Germany. Watch the webinar here.

Rural Forum on Community-Based Health Solutions - Mississippi Mills, November 14/13

ROI and Community Health Ontario are hosting a day-long forum on November 14 to explore integrated, community-based solutions to rural healthcare challenges. "The physical and mental health of Canadians declines form the most urgan regions to the most rural and remote regions. At the same time, services are more time-consuming and expensive to deliver in rural areas," says David Kelly, CEO, Ontario Federation of Community Mental Health and Addictions Programs.

Read more here.

Rural Forum #2 - Sudbury, November 28/13

Forum #2 - Healthy Aging in Rural Northern Ontario
ROI and The Centre for Rural and Northern Health Research are hosting a day-long forum on Thursday November 28 to discuss supporting aging seniors living in rural northern Ontario. KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Dr. Samir Sinha, Director of Geriatrics, Mount Sinai Hospital  and Provincial Lead on Ontario's Seniors Strategy "Living Longer, Living Well".
More info and registration here

Board Development - New Learning Opportunities

ROI and Strive! are offering two half-day workshops on "Championship Chairing" and "Difficult Conversations in the Boardroom" on Wednesday, November 27 at the EastGen Complex, 5653 Highway 6 North, Guelph.

Click here for more information

Rural Forum #1 - Stratford, October 29/13

Forum #1 - Healthy Aging in Rural Ontario

The Rural Ontario Institute, in partnership with Gateway Rural Health Research Institute is hosting a day-long furm to explore the complex challenges of supporting healthy aging in rural seniors. A series of expert presentations will be followed by a facilitated group discussion. Have a voice in public healthcare policy development.

More info HERE.

2013 Leading Edge Summit - October 16 & 17, 2013 - Register now!

Connected Rural Communities: Tools and techniques for networked leadership
Come to the 2013 Leading Edge Summit and learn how a network approach to leadership can help address the complex challenges we face in our rural communities and agricultural industry. We will learn hands-on tools and techniques for creating, weaving and strengthening networks. 
The Leading Edge Summit is the best value going for leadership training: just $250 for the two-day session including meals and accomodation (early bird rate).
Register for the Leading Edge Summit here: http://bit.ly/stepssummit.
Welcoming AALP Class 15!

AALP Class 15 consists of 16 females and 13 males ranging in age from 23 to 59. Seven class members are primary producers of vegetables, field and cash crops, poultry, dairy, hogs, beef and sheep. Another eight of the group are actively involved in primary agriculture, while also working in the agri-business and agri-food sectors, non-government and commodity associations, provincial and federal governments and their agencies. 

Read more here

Third set of Focus on Rural Ontario fact sheets look at employment issues in rural Ontario

Rural Ontario has different employment challenges than urban areas. Three new Focus on Rural Ontario fact sheets feature employment-related information, and another looks at the Aboriginal Identity population in Ontario. Based on Statistics Canada data, these easy-to-read fact sheets highlight the changing dynamics of rural Ontario’s population, communities and economies.

Get Focus on Rural Ontario fact sheets here


New study: AALP delivers 25% social return on investment

A recent study reaffirms the tremendous value of the Advanced Agricultural Leadership Program (AALP) to Ontario's society and economy. Based on a survey of AALP graduates, it is estimated that for every $1 invested in AALP, the social return on investment is $1.25.

Read the full report here.


Janet Horner new Chair of Rural Ontario Institute

At the recent ROI Annual General Meeting, Janet Horner was elected as Chair of the Rural Ontario Institute. Joining her on the Executive Committee are: Jim Whaley, Wasaga Beach as vice-chair; Stig Puschel, Sudbury as secretary; Bill Bearss, Brampton as treasurer; and Rob Hannam, Guelph as past-chair.

Read more here.



ROI Blog

Jan 15, 2015Town of Minto Awarded Bronze Designation as part of Walk Friendly Ontario

Dec 10, 2014Ministry of Education Proposes Major Changes to School Closure Processes

Nov 26, 2014Age-Friendly Community Planning Grant Announced

Nov 26, 2014Community Transportation Pilot Grant Program Announced

Nov 20, 2014Funding available to train front line staff in critical areas of the law


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Community Exchange

Check out the new Community Exchange, your rural Ontario information Centre.

Visit the Community Exchange