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OECD Territorial Reviews: Toronto, Canada 2009

image of OECD Territorial Reviews: Toronto, Canada 2009

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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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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