Report by Ontario Chamber of Commerce
Ontario’s economy is undergoing a period of rapid change. Twenty-first century globalization, urbanization, and technological transformation are challenging the status quo and redefining what it means to be competitive. Given these and other pressures, Ontario’s overall prosperity will increasingly depend on the strength of its regions. Yet, research demonstrates that population and economic growth have been remarkably imbalanced in recent decades, with growth rates in the Greater Golden Horseshoe and Ottawa far surpassing those in other areas of Ontario.
Given the economic discrepancies across the province, it is incumbent on policymakers to examine what economic development looks like in a globalized world, what it will take for Ontario to remain competitive, and how government can mitigate regional disparities. The Great Mosaic: Reviving Ontario’s Regional Economies offers a framework for thinking about the present and future of Ontario’s regional economies. With this report, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) examines the unique strengths, opportunities, and challenges of different communities across the province, and the need for deliberate strategies to support their long-term development. Our report offers 17 practical recommendations to help build an environment in which Ontarians can continue to adapt and thrive as the economy evolves.
The primary takeaways from this report include:
Modern governance of economic development empowers a wide range of stakeholders outside government. These stakeholders include businesses, post-secondary institutions, and not-for-profit organizations. Regional collaboration, economic reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, and the use of data are all critical to mobilizing local assets.
The most cost-effective way to drive economic development is to cultivate ecosystems of talent, trade, and infrastructure. Fostering an environment conducive to business growth is necessary to ensure the long-term success of both traditional and emerging sectors.
Building regional capacity for innovation is fundamental to productivity and growth. This means improving commercialization and technology adoption, strengthening regional innovation centres, expanding broadband internet access, and facilitating cluster development.
Whether Ontario’s economy will flourish in the face of ongoing disruption remains an open question. The OCC is optimistic that the province can successfully navigate the changing economy if government and its partners make deliberate and concerted efforts to unlock the economic potential of Ontario’s regions.