YELLOWKNIFE - The North needs people — 2,000 of them over the next five years.
That's the conclusion of the Northwest Territories budget tabled in the territorial legislature.
Figures show the territory's population dropped slightly last year as the cost of a significant loss of revenue such as income tax.
Finance Minister Michael Miltenberger says the territory has to reduce the number of fly-in workers, get better results from immigration and convince more students who head south for school to return.
The territory's first budget since signing a deal with Ottawa for control over its own natural resources forecasts a $200-million surplus on spending of about $1.6 billion.
It's the N.W.T.'s third surplus budget in a row.
Miltenberger says the territory faces huge future costs as it plans to build a highway and fibre-optic link down the Mackenzie Valley and to improve its hydroelectric grid.