By MPP Toby Barrett
Ontario is at the centre of one of the most stable and competitive business environments in the world. Strategically located in the heart of North America, we can offer companies access to more than 187-million consumers within a day’s drive of the Greater Toronto Area.
With a population of more than 14 million, Ontario is home to 40 per cent of Canada’s population and is one of North America’s largest jurisdictions. In fact, if we were a U.S. state, we would rank fifth by population. Like the freshwater Great Lakes that shape our borders, we’re big. Bigger than Texas; more than double the size of California. And we’re connected: an easy drive across any of the 14 border crossings to the United States; just a hop by air to New York, Washington, or Chicago.
Companies that choose to move to Ontario can have confidence in our long-term political and economic stability. A well-functioning society creates trust and participation, demonstrates political stability, upholds the rule of law, and enjoys positive relations with other regions.
Ontario’s economy is built on the strength of traditional industries which include mining, forestry, manufacturing, farming, and food production. Those mainstay sectors remain our economic anchor, even as they re-tool to apply new technologies and innovations to compete in a digital age.
But Ontario is also where the newer economies have emerged in force. It’s where financial services are broadening into financial technology and revolutionizing the way we invest. Artificial intelligence is ushering in an era of safer, cleaner, connected ways of doing business.
This is what’s special about Ontario—it’s where new innovations, platforms, and technologies meet the muscle of the industrial economy. It’s a place to test new ideas. A place that can drive real economic growth for future generations.
We are not afraid to try new approaches. We know that governments and firms must invest in training programs that help employees acquire the skills they need for an information economy. And our publicly-funded higher education system gives us the latitude for collaboration between government, business, and academia to re-tailor curricula and priorities to meet changes in our world.
We are also younger than the rest of the G7. Millennials, those aged 18 to 34, are the largest generation in many of our biggest cities, including Toronto, Ottawa, and Kitchener-Waterloo. We’ve welcomed people from more than 150 countries; a diversity expressed in the 200 languages spoken on our streets.
An increasing share of Canada’s foreign direct investment activity is going into Ontario. While Ontario comprises approximately 40 per cent of Canada’s population, it realizes closer to 50 per cent of the FDI deals and dollars, continuing to punch above its weight.
These are game changers for Ontario, and the reason why pre-COVID, our province added over 300,000 new jobs in just 18 months. These fundamentals are still in place. They are why Ontario saw continued domestic and foreign direct investment throughout the worldwide pandemic. This is what we mean when we say we are unleashing Ontario.
We won’t hold back Ontario’s prosperity like previous governments have done before us.
Once this pandemic is firmly behind us, we are going to continue to build on this work and our province’s economy will rebound stronger than ever before.
Toby Barrett is the MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk