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OECD Territorial Reviews: Toronto, Canada

OECD Territorial Reviews: Toronto, Canada    
Format Softcover
Catalogue No. 042009121
Pages 220
Language English; Aussi disponible en français
Price $62.10
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Published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2010.


The Toronto region is one of the chief economic powerhouses of Canada. It generates 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. Toronto's large pool of language and cultural skills are a major asset and a factor boosting its competitiveness.

Despite these benefits, the region's GDP per capita and GDP growth are lower than the Canadian average and its annual economic and labour growth are lower than average compared to other metropolitan regions in the OECD. A major manufacturing hub, with automotive, biomedical, computer/electronics and entertainment companies, Toronto is nonetheless facing strong competition and losing manufacturing jobs.

OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria said that "Cities like Toronto are the drivers of local, regional and national growth. They are the hubs of higher education, finance, industry and innovation. But as they compete with each other to attract talent and investment, they must constantly upgrade the services they offer."

OECD's review of the Toronto region makes numerous recommendations to make the city more sustainably competitive:
  • Innovate – Toronto could boost innovation by encouraging greater collaboration between the region's industries, small businesses and universities and strengthening links between firms. Governments could build on and expand laudable initiatives like the MaRS Discovery District in downtown Toronto, where technological start-ups in life sciences are assisted with work space and services, allowing for inter-linkages between sectors.
  • Employ skilled immigrants – To profit from the economic and employment opportunities offered by Toronto's cultural diversity, initiatives such as bridging programs and internships should be expanded. Reviewing the credentials of prospective immigrants before they arrive in Canada and a pan-Canadian framework for foreign qualification recognition would speed the employment process. To provide housing for new immigrants, regional agreements could define the share of low-cost housing to be included in new developments.
  • Improve transport infrastructure – Financial incentives to use public transit instead of cars, such as congestion charges, high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes, local fuel taxes and parking taxes could be considered, as could more revenue sources for Metrolinx, the regional transportation agency. The federal government should work with municipal governments on predictable, long-term, infrastructure funding and evaluation with a view to contributing to the competitiveness of the Toronto region and the country as a whole.
  • Green the region – Initiatives such as Toronto's Mayor's Tower Renewal project, which links social and environmental sustainability, should be expanded to include greening affordable housing and focussing on green jobs and industries. This would stimulate SMEs to develop alternative technologies and energy sources, allowing industry, transportation, etc. to phase out carbon-based energy.
  • Improve coordination and communications across all levels of government – Ontario could intensify strategic planning for the Toronto region's economic development, social integration and environmental sustainability. Existing networks of municipalities and non-governmental stakeholders could be further developed as part of a provincial urban policy agenda which would start with the Toronto region and extend to other cities. The Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, announced in August 2009, will encourage federal involvement in fostering a sustainable competitiveness agenda for the Toronto region.
The Territorial Review of Toronto is integrated into a series of thematic reviews of metropolitan regions undertaken by the OECD Territorial Development Policy Committee. The overall aim of these case studies is to draw and disseminate horizontal policy recommendations for national governments.

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This page last modified: June 3, 2010

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