[URBAN NOTE] “Toronto’s economy doesn’t get the respect it deserves”
At MacLean’s, Armine Yalznizyan argues that Toronto deserves much more attention from Canadians at large for its positive economic contributions, and its heft.
It’s the city that every Canadian loves to hate, yet Canada wouldn’t be Canada without Toronto. No, this isn’t troll bait. People should care what happens to Toronto. Here’s why.
On Monday Statistics Canada put out a new data series about “local” economies, showing how much our cities contribute to the national economy. The census metropolitan area* of Toronto pumped out $330 billion in 2013, the last year for which StatsCan conducted this exercise. That’s virtually equivalent to the GDP of the entire province of Alberta GDP ($331 billion) and within spitting distance of Canada’s second-largest province, Quebec ($337 billion).
Since the 2008 global economic crisis, much has been made of how Alberta’s rapid rise created a new economic magnetic pole in Canada. But as vital as resource growth was to Canada’s recovery, Toronto’s relative economic importance was only slightly diminished between 2009 and 2013 as Alberta boomed; Toronto’s share of national GDP declined from 19.2 per cent to 18.6 per cent. But of course since 2013 the story of Alberta’s economic miracle was interrupted—and possibly ended—as the price of oil collapsed in 2014 and again further in 2015. Meanwhile, since 2013, growth in numerous and diverse sectors that are disproportionately concentrated in Toronto (construction, real estate, finance, professional and technical services, IT and even some manufacturing) mean that Toronto’s economy has likely continued to generate roughly one-fifth of Canada’s GDP. Much as it has since at least 2001, according to analysis by Statistics Canada.
This shouldn’t really be a surprise when one considers the second important fact about Toronto that nobody ever talks about: The Toronto census metropolitan region is North America’s fourth-largest city, and Canada’s largest city, home to 20.4 per cent of all Canadians. According to World Bank statistics, Toronto is bucking an international trend, as a higher concentration of Canadian residents have steadily chosen to live in the city over time, the opposite of what is happening in all G7 nations.