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Economic Overview

Toronto is the business and financial capital of Canada. The Region's economy contributes $286 billion (approximately 1/2 of which comes directly from the City) annually to the Canadian economy, and is home to a wide range of industries and quality services to support diverse business needs.

The City's economy relies on innovation and the development of ideas to create economic wealth. Key economic sectors include: Financial Services, Life Sciences, ICT, Cleantech and Green Energy, Food and Beverage, and Creative Industries.

Toronto's biggest employers include: Rogers Telecommunications, Shoppers Drug Mart and Canada's Big Five banks - the Royal Bank of Canada, the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Scotiabank, TD Canada Trust and the Bank of Montreal - who collectively employ over 10,000 workers.


Toronto has a $286 Billion Economy
Total GDP of the City of Toronto, Toronto CMA and Province of Ontario
Percentage GDP by Industry (2010 Estimates)
Percentage GDP by Industry (2010 Estimates)

The Toronto region is the main economic agglomeration in one of the most economically concentrated countries in the OECD (OECD 2010). See OECD: Territorial Reviews; Toronto, Canada, 2010. Its GDP of $286 billion represents nearly half of Ontario's GDP and is expected to grow at a rate of 4.2% to $571 billion over the next five years.

Between 1990 and 2010, the region's economy grew from $140 billion to $240 billion, an increase of $100 billion (in 2002 CAD dollars). During the same period, Ontario's economy grew from $310 billion to $490 billion, an increase of $180 billion (see chart below).

Toronto's economy is not only strong, but growing. Between 1990 and 2009, its economy grew at an annual rate of 2.7%, faster than that of the United States. (Source: TD Economics, Statisitics Canada, US Bureau of Economic Analysis)

Source: Toronto Board of Trade, 2009, Conference Board of Canada

The region's output is the result of a mixed economy, where no one industry or sector dominates. The 3 largest industries include (by percentage of GDP) Financial Services (14%), Real Estate (14%) and Wholesale and Retail Trade (12%) (City of Toronto Econometric Model, 2011).

In the City's Economic Dashboard report for 2012, economic indicators show Toronto growing in GDP, construction, and housing starts.

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Labour Supply

Labour Force Data, Toronto CMA, Ontario and Canada 2009
Labour Force Trends - Employment
Wages & Employment

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Key Sectors

Financial Services

Toronto's financial services sector is a key driver of the local, provincial and national economies. Toronto has the 3rd largest financial services sector in North America offering businesses a full range of financial services. Our financial services sector is internationally renowned for its soundness and stability. Toronto's financial services sector sustains many other local industries and is a leading consumer of legal, accounting, information technology, education and training and business services.

Toronto is home to:

  • 223,000 financial service employees
  • 2 of the largest 10 global life insurers
  • the 3rd largest stock exchange in North America, and 7th largest in the world
  • the 2nd largest Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) society after New York
  • 5 of Canada's largest domestic banks
  • 55 foreign bank subsidiaries and branches
  • 119 securities firms
  • 61 mutual funds companies
  • 58 pension fund managers
  • 5 of Canada's largest pension plans with combined assets in excess of $300 billion

Please click here for more information on Toronto's Financial Services cluster.

Life Sciences

Toronto's Life Science sector is the largest of any metropolitan area in North America and among the top 10 in the world. A large network of hospitals, academic institutions, pharmaceutical products, medical devices and technology, diagnostic labs, health care services, IT systems and hospital supplies are all part of Toronto's 7 million ft2 Discovery District.

Toronto's research infrastructure is closely aligned with others across Ontario, and is among the world's top Research and Development hubs. The sector's research base is diverse, representing disciplines at the leading edge of science and technology.

The Centre for Human Health engages businesses in a diverse array of life sciences, and accommodates the largest cluster of biomedical and biotech companies in the country and the 4th largest in North America.

Please click here for more information about the Life Science sector.

Business Services

Every year, Toronto-based businesses export over $70 billion in goods and services to every corner of the globe. The City's business and professional services cluster is among the largest in North America and is growing in step with its highly diversified economy. The cluster includes law and accounting firms, advertising and marketing agencies, customer care centres, management, technical and design consultancies and human resources services. These combine to create the vital business infrastructure that attracts corporate headquarters and global professional firms. Thanks to a highly educated workforce, established international connections and low operating costs, Toronto businesses have access to an outstanding support network that is essential to success.

Please click here for more information about the Business Services cluster.

Clean Technology and Green Energy

The Clean Technology and Green Energy Sector represents an opportunity for Toronto corporations that are creating break-through technologies to support an ever-growing green infrastructure. The City of Toronto is estimated to have over 1,000 companies whose primary business is in the environment and clean energy sectors, or offer a 'green' element to their main product or service line. These activities are projected to generate over 20,000 jobs and $2 billion of revenue annually for the local economy. More specifically:

  • Approximately 2/3 of these services are firms and 1/3 technology or product companies;
  • Over 90% of these companies are considered small, with fewer than 100 employees; and
  • An estimated 15% of these companies are exporting with more than ¾ of export sales going to the United States.
The province of Ontario’s Green Energy Act aims to boost investment in renewable energy projects and businesses. As a result, over $4.6 billion has been invested in renewable energy projects that are either underway or now under construction. The cornerstone of the Green Energy Act is Ontario's feed-in-tariff or FIT Program. The FIT Program is North America's first comprehensive guaranteed pricing structure for renewable electricity production.

Please click here for more information about the Clean Technology and Green Energy cluster.

Creative Industries

Toronto's Creative Industries has several dominant sectors including new media, design, music and sound recording, performing arts, and media and publishing. These creative industries generate a GDP of $9 billion annually.

Toronto has the 3rd largest English language live theatre market in the world. Millions of tourists enjoy world-renowned cultural attractions such as the Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario, and attend annual festivals including the acclaimed Toronto International Film Festival. Related creative sectors also centered in Toronto include architecture, interior design, industrial, graphic and fashion design, animation, post-production, special effects, website development and music production.

Please click here for more information about the Creative Industries cluster.

Film & Television

Toronto's film and television cluster now ranks 3rd in North America. Many high profile film productions have been shot here, and the city is a lead exporter of TV programming. A critical draw for producers is the city's wealth of experienced creative and technical talent. Add award-winning technicians and the ease of shooting in a diverse range of locations and it's no surprise that Toronto's film and TV industry is thriving.

  • The cluster contributes $1.1 billion annually to the local economy.
  • Highly developed infrastructure provides state-of-the-art facilities and services from pre-production through to post-production.
  • $949 million was spent on film and television productions shot in Toronto in 2004, including $801.6 million on major productions, $133.8 million on commercials and $13.65 million on music videos.
  • In 2004, the City's Film and Television Office issued 4,302 location filming permits for 1,502 projects, totaling 7,743 days of shooting.
  • Toronto was rated one of the top 10 North American cities for independent productions by MovieMaker, the global film and television trade magazine, which described Toronto as "The heart of Canada's film industry …with a plethora of divergent locations, great natural beauty, low cost of living, a ton of world-class gear and facilities and top-flight cast and crew."

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Labour Force Data, Toronto region, Ontario and Canada 2011.
Summary statistics of short-term labour force trends in the Toronto region (August 2014)
The composition of the Toronto region's GDP by major industry grouping based on 2010 estimates.
Toronto has a $286 Billion Economy
The stacked time series shows the GDP growth of the City of Toronto, the Toronto region and the Province of Ontario.
Unadjusted average wage and type of employment (full-time or part-time)
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