Advocacy and Action
Our advocacy with stakeholder partners and our government relations influence all levels of government and allow us to extend thought leadership into action with initiatives that focus on talent, transportation and trade to make Toronto one of the most competitive and sought after business regions in the world. 200 policy meetings brought together business and government leaders, members and key stakeholders to make progress on issues such as transportation decision-making and management, economic strategy and job growth, smart cities, and global and regional trade.
In 2016, input from our membership committees, the Board’s three budget submissions to each level of government included specific recommendations on how to save money at Toronto City Hall and new recommendations on talent-friendly policies for the federal and provincial governments. With the inputs of our members we continued to advocate at all levels of government on our core issues, both for long-term strategies on trade, transportation and talent and on immediate issues of impact to our members and business community. The Board is watching closely any changes to fiscal and tax policies, particularly as Toronto City Council considers new revenue tools to fund transit expansion.
Innovation Corridor Region
This year, we took steps to advance our goals of connecting Toronto region businesses to other regions to leverage our innovation assets and to further support our businesses’ growth potential. In this, we are steadfast in our belief in the transformative effect of connected innovation corridors, and their potential to build collaborative super-regions that power all industries, including technology, financial services, food and beverage, health and ignite a leading ecosystem of talent, capital, infrastructure, trade and investment. In March, the Toronto Region Board of Trade and the Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce announced a cooperative working group and business advisory council to connect and promote the economic potential of the Toronto-Waterloo super-region.
Canadian Global Cities Council
Canada’s seven largest metro regions generate 52% of the Country’s GDP and represent 49% of the population. Ensuring the GDP growth of these major metros and increasing the number of major metropolitans in this group will enable Canada to remain a strong economy and a highly attractive place in which to own a business, invest and live. This year, we took steps to advance our goals of advocating for major metropolitan regions within Canada to become more connected and competitive in the global marketplace. To achieve this goal, we launched the Canadian Global Cities Council (CGCC) which is a peer group founded by the Boards of Trade, Chambers of Commerce and World Trade Centers representing Canada’s largest cities. Founding members of this group includes the Toronto Region Board of Trade, Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montréal, Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, Calgary Chamber of Commerce, Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, The Greater Vancouver Board of Trade and Brampton Board of Trade as well as the World Trade Centers of Toronto, Montreal, Winnipeg and Edmonton. The CGCC works to foster, encourage and sustain a compelling and synergistic dialogue between Canada’s major cities to ensure big city competitiveness remains high on the federal government agenda. By conducting fact-based metropolitan-focused research this initiative endeavours to help decision makers at the national level make sound and informed public policy decisions that create jobs and generate further prosperity.
Board of Trade Summits
The Board held four Summits on global trade, transportation smart cities and aviation for over 800 participants.
Trade: TAP into Global Trade
Our inaugural trade summit on May 12, 2015 delivered insider access to expert trade knowledge and featured presentations and facilitated breakout sessions. The Hon. Brad Duguid, Ontario’s Minister of Economic Development, Employment & Infrastructure delivered a keynote on how Ontario’s trade strategy, export advantage and investment potential can help our businesses thrive in a global, competitive economy. Presenting sponsor, JPMorgan Chase & Co., and supporting sponsors, Air Canada and Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University, were essential to the delivery of the event. At that time, the Board officially joined the Global Cities Initiative, a joint project of JPMorgan Chase and the Brookings Institution that aims to help leaders in 28 metropolitan areas pivot their economies towards increasing world exports and attracting foreign investments by sharing research, building networks and planning for global growth in a way that is unique to each city-region.
After consulting members and stakeholders, the Board produced an Export Strategy Report that assessed the region’s readiness to compete internationally, identified key barriers to global trade and made recommendations for how Toronto region businesses can accelerate their export capacity.
Transportation: Delivering Transit, Delivering Prosperity
In November 2015, the Board held its first annual Transportation Summit, uniting more than 300 experts, members and stakeholders for a full day of intensive discussion over the issues inherent in the region’s transportation infrastructure projects, such as prioritization and delivery, funding and financing, and how the investments must create and unlock economic development opportunities for our businesses and our region. 60 speakers, including a keynote from Mayor John Tory and address by Minister Del Duca as well as six robust expert panel discussions, presented on key themes, all of which helped to inform the Board’s government relations, stakeholder advocacy and our pending report on the critical element of talent. Our region’s future prosperity and competitiveness hinges on a strong transportation network that gets our people, products and services moving faster, locally and globally. Building transportation also requires we build our region’s talent pool. In our role to facilitate the solutions that support our businesses, in the months ahead, the Board will layout the roadmap to do just that.
Smart Cities Summit: Towards a Connected Toronto Region
Our first and sold out Smart Cities Summit in May explored the meaning of and tremendous value we get generate from smart, connected cities. The Board has announced a multi-year Smart City Initiative in partnership with the City of Toronto that we will further develop alongside our work on super-regions in the year ahead .
Aviation: Airports as Economic Hubs
On May 26, 2015, we held our Aviation Conference GTA, recognizing the Pearson airport community as a valuable regional transportation asset and global connecting hub. Richard Florida, one of the world’s leading urbanists, delivered a keynote about the role of connected cities in driving the global economy and stakeholders unearthed the benefits and impacts of Canada’s largest airport becoming an even larger global transportation hub—it will serve over 50 million passengers a year by 2025.
In February, we hosted more than 200 policy makers, members, business leaders and experts at our second Aviation Summit, focusing our lens on Southern Ontario’s airports to examine the often under-recognized role of airports in regional economic growth and how the development of connected transportation networks can grow and propel prosperity in the coming decades.
“The Board was front and centre in getting public transit on the public agenda. They did it in a thoughtful, analytical way that got the public support it needed. They didn’t come up with ideas in a vacuum; they reached out to us and a lot of others in a non-partisan way for our views on the framing and content of the debate. But most important, the Board’s reputation made it okay to talk about transit and to apply a degree of pressure to political agencies to make it happen.”