OECD Territorial Reviews

ISSN :
1990-0759 (online)
ISSN :
1990-0767 (print)
DOI :
10.1787/19900759
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This series offers analysis and policy guidance to national and sub-national governments seeking to strengthen territorial development policies and governance. These reviews are part of a larger body of OECD work on regional development that addresses the territorial dimension of a range of policy challenges, including governance, innovation, urban development and rural policy. This work includes both thematic reports and reports on specific countries or regions.

Also available in: French
 
OECD Territorial Reviews: Toronto, Canada 2009

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Author(s):
OECD
Publication Date :
11 Mar 2010
Pages :
216
ISBN :
9789264079410 (PDF) ; 9789264079403 (print)
DOI :
10.1787/9789264079410-en

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OECD's Territorial Review of Toronto, Canada.  It finds that the Toronto region is one of the chief economic powerhouses of Canada, generating almost one-fifth of national GDP and 45% of Ontario’s GDP. The region is home to 40% of Canada’s business headquarters and is a main manufacturing hub, with major automotive, biomedical and electronics companies. Toronto is also one of the most diverse metropolitan regions in the world: half of its population is foreign born and it hosted 40% of all immigrants to Canada during 2001-2006.

Nevertheless, the region’s current economic development model is under pressure and its economic performance has been mixed in recent years. From 1995 to 2005, GDP per capita and GDP growth rates were below the Canadian average while its annual economic and labour productivity growth were lower than the average for OECD metropolitan regions. During this period, population growth boosted demand in the construction, sales and retail, professional and financial services sectors. However, the recent decline in the area’s manufacturing jobs has illustrated the structural difficulties of some traditionally strong areas, such as the automotive and electronics industries.

This Review proposes a new sustainable competitiveness agenda to enhance productivity, focusing on innovation, cultural diversity and infrastructure, as well as on green policies. To implement such an agenda, the Review proposes improving the current governance framework by intensifying strategic planning at the level of the Toronto region.

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    Executive summary
    Toronto’s competitiveness is important for the whole of Canada. With more than 5 million inhabitants, Toronto is Canada’s largest urban centre, and one of its chief economic powerhouses. The Toronto region is widely estimated to generate almost a fifth of Canada’s GDP and 45% of Ontario’s GDP, and is home to 40% of the nation’s business headquarters. The Toronto region is also Canada’s main immigration node, with an intake of around 40% of all the immigrants to Canada during 2001-2006. The region hosts a number of clusters with national and world-wide relevance, including in finance, automobile production and life sciences, as well as other prosperous and dynamic sectors in entertainment and communication technologies. As such, the Toronto region creates economic spillovers that benefit other parts of the Province and the country through interprovincial trade, labour market mobility and business links.
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    Assessment and recommendations
    With more than 5 million inhabitants, Toronto is Canada’s largest urban centre, and one of its chief economic powerhouses. Based on its share of the Province’s economic activity, the Toronto region is widely estimated to generate almost a fifth of Canada’s GDP (i.e. 17%, higher than the average for OECD metropolitan regions) and 45% of Ontario’s GDP. It is also home to 40% of the nation’s business headquarters. The region creates spillovers that benefit other parts of the Province and the country through inter-provincial trade, labour market mobility and business links.
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    Toronto: facing challenges, grasping opportunities
    Over recent decades, the Toronto region has experienced one of the highest rates of population growth among OECD metropolitan regions, making it one of the economic engines of Canada. With more than 5 million inhabitants, the region generates almost a fifth of the GDP of Canada as a whole, and concentrates 40% of the nation’s business headquarters. This accelerated expansion has not come at the expense of quality of life: Toronto retains its reputation as a good place in which to live. With the implementation of the Canada-US Free Trade agreement in 1989, and thanks to its strategic geographical location only a 24-hour drive from 40% of the US population, Toronto firms have successfully penetrated US markets, boosting its exports and integrating into the North American automobile production system. Toronto’s diversified regional economy, which includes a number of globally competitive clusters in finance, automobile and life sciences, as well as other prosperous and dynamic sectors in entertainment and communication technologies, has benefitted from a well-educated workforce constantly refreshed by new immigrants. While the government of Canada has set in place a pro-active immigration policy, it is the Toronto region that welcomed 40.4% of the immigrants who arrived in the country from 2001-2006. Unlike immigrants in many other large cities in the world, most newcomers to the Toronto region are highly skilled.
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    Capitalising on competitive assets
    The Toronto region has the largest metropolitan economy in Canada, as noted in Chapter 1. It is home to a variety of economic sectors with strong export performance, both in manufacturing (the automobile industry, food industry, information and communication technologies, or ICT, and aerospace) and services (particularly financial and professional services), and it is the headquarters for by far the largest number of large companies in Canada. It houses a range of renowned universities and research institutes, and it attracts around 40% of the immigrants who arrive in the country every year.
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    Improving competitiveness through better governance
    The formulation and implementation of an economic competitiveness agenda for the Toronto region would require some changes to current governance practices and frameworks. Co-ordination, both within a single order of government and vertically between orders of government, must be maximised in order to articulate a series of commonly defined policy objectives based on a common understanding of the policy challenges, and a competitiveness agenda is needed to pursue these objectives.
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