TORONTO, ON- Toronto may be losing its status as Canada's
pre-eminent city and business hub and that has city residents
worried, according to a new study and poll from independent
research organization the Fraser Institute.
Median incomes in Toronto have failed to keep pace with the
rest of Canada and management, business and finance jobs are in
decline, says the study Is Toronto in Decline? Worrying Trends from the Census, which analyses Toronto's economic health using data from the
Median income in Toronto grew by just four per cent from
2000, while Ontario's median income grew by 10 per cent and
median income across all of Canada grew by 16 per cent.
Edmonton experienced the highest growth in median income at 26
per cent followed by Saskatoon (21 per cent) and Calgary (20
Additionally, Toronto's median income in 2000 was 106 per
cent of the national average; by 2005 it had fallen to 96 per
cent of the national average. By comparison, Ontario's median
income was 112 per cent of the national average in 2000 and 106
per cent in 2005.
"A key marker of a city's economic health is the income
level of its residents. Since 2000, Toronto has lagged behind
the Canadian average," said Mike Harris, Fraser Institute
senior fellow and former Ontario premier.
The peer-reviewed study, written by Fred McMahon, Director
of the Fraser Institute's Centre for Globalization Studies,
found that the number of management positions in a city can
serve as a good proxy for a city's health as a business centre.
But in this area, Toronto is bleeding management occupations.
Both Toronto and Ontario had negative growth in the number of
managers and specifically the number of management positions in
the private sector. Toronto is also the only city studied that
suffered a loss of business, finance and administration
occupations, compared to the 9.3 per cent increase in this area
across Canada and 9.6 per cent increase in cities other than
"While most other major cities across Canada have
experienced growing incomes and job creation, Toronto has
become a national laggard. It's little wonder a feeling of
unease has crept into the public's consciousness," Harris
On top of the census data pointing to a decline in Toronto's
economic standing, city residents responding to a poll
indicated a growing sense of disenchantment with Toronto's
direction and concern that city hall is failing to adequately
plan for the future.
The June poll of Toronto residents found that 40 per cent
were concerned that Toronto is falling behind other business
centres such as Calgary or Vancouver. Additionally, 42 per cent
of respondents think the city is going in the wrong direction
while only 33 per cent see it as moving in the right
According to the poll results, blame for the problem falls
on city hall. Sixty-two per cent of respondents said the city
does not spend money efficiently and 63 per cent feel that the
city's tax policy is driving business away. Little wonder then,
67 per cent of respondents also want the city to hold a
referendum before any tax increase.
On the performance of Toronto's civic politicians in using
tax dollars and providing leadership for the future,
respondents give the mayor and council a barely passing grade
of 52 per cent and 51 per cent, respectively.
"The people of Toronto are looking for leadership and a
vision for their city and the future. They are calling for
control over their taxes through a referendum, a response to
the waste and lack of direction coming from city hall," Harris
Harris and Preston Manning, former leader of the federal
opposition, are both senior fellows with the Fraser Institute
and are working with a group of international urban researchers
to craft a series of policies dealing with the urban issues
facing Canadian cities. The project is an extension of their
previous Canada Strong and Free policy work with the
"Toronto and other major Canadian cities are facing great
challenges and we need to develop innovative, well-thought-out,
principle-based, and world-leading urban policies to address
them," Manning said.
"All too often, urban issues are not at the top of the
policy debate. Moreover, the discussion of urban policies is
typically fragmented-the dialogue in Vancouver is unheard in
Halifax, new ideas in Winnipeg never make their way to
Montreal, and so on. Canadian cities can learn from each other.
Successful policies in one city can often be transported to
other cities and we can all take lessons from failed policies
and avoid repeating the same mistakes."
The COMPAS Research poll of 653 Toronto residents was
completed in June 2008 and is accurate to within 3.8 percentage
points 19 times out of 20.
COMPAS Research Poll