Media Releases

Who cares about 15 million urban voters?

April 14, 2011

TORONTO, ON — What do 15.3 mil­lion vot­ers, $17.5 bil­lion in per­son­al income, $910 bil­lion in GDP, and over 74% of all new jobs cre­at­ed in the past year have in com­mon? Each of these fig­ures refers to the influ­ences of Canada’s met­ro­pol­i­tan regions and col­lec­tive­ly sig­ni­fy the cru­cial role that our urban regions play. A new report led by researchers at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to shows that met­ro­pol­i­tan areas are home to 68% of the nation’s pop­u­la­tion, 90% of our immi­grants, and 96% of Canada’s vis­i­ble minor­i­ty pop­u­la­tion (and 67% of the eli­gi­ble vot­ers).

Just the core cities of Canada’s met­ro­pol­i­tan areas account for over 40% of the pop­u­la­tion, GDP, income, and vot­ers. While many live in sub­urbs and aren’t over­ly con­cerned with cen­tral cities, the sub­urbs do not exist in a vac­u­um. While they may be the donut to the cen­tral city’s “Tim­bit” – with­out a strong, vibrant, suc­cess­ful cen­tral city, the sub­urbs would find them­selves severe­ly chal­lenged. Sub­urbs and cen­tral cities share jobs, peo­ple and com­mon chal­lenges. New immi­grants are increas­ing­ly set­tling in sub­ur­ban, rather than down­town, areas; mil­lions of com­muters cross city bound­aries every day in Cana­da from coast to coast to coast; sub­ur­ban and city gov­ern­ments face com­mon chal­lenges to main­tain infra­struc­ture and ser­vices.

It’s not just the sheer size of our met­ros and their sur­round­ing burbs that make them so impor­tant. Metro areas are gen­er­at­ing employ­ment growth, GDP, and tax rev­enues beyond their share of the pop­u­la­tion. From Decem­ber 2009 to Decem­ber 2010 Sta­tis­tics Cana­da tells us that 227,900 new jobs were cre­at­ed in Cana­da. That’s the “net” growth. Break those num­bers down and you get a dif­fer­ent sto­ry. Using some rea­son­able and con­ser­v­a­tive assump­tions (detailed data is only pro­vid­ed for Toron­to, Mon­tre­al, and Van­cou­ver), we actu­al­ly found that near­ly 260,000 new jobs were cre­at­ed in Canada’s met­ro­pol­i­tan areas; almost 160,000 (62%) were locat­ed in a cen­tral city. The small­er, sep­a­rate cities and rur­al areas of the coun­try actu­al­ly suf­fered a loss of near­ly 32,000 jobs last year — some­thing that any small town may­or or coun­ty admin­is­tra­tor could tell you.

It is worth not­ing that there is a great deal of inter­de­pen­dence among large met­ro­pol­i­tan cen­tral cities, sub­urbs, small cities, and rur­al areas. No area can or should exist in iso­la­tion. It is the inten­tion of this report to draw atten­tion to rel­a­tive impor­tance and sig­nif­i­cance of met­ro­pol­i­tan areas and their cen­tral cities across all of Cana­da. Its goal is to stress that they are impor­tant not that they are more impor­tant.

Cana­da has always, with some sense of pride, iden­ti­fied itself as one of the “most urban­ized” nations in the world. That urban­iza­tion has cre­at­ed many ben­e­fits and lots of oppor­tu­ni­ties. Our con­tin­ued growth and suc­cess dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly depend on the vital­i­ty and resilience of all our cities and met­ro­pol­i­tan regions. One need not look very far in a rapid­ly urban­iz­ing world to see that any advan­tage we may have gained from our urban­ized pop­u­la­tion is rapid­ly dimin­ish­ing. More needs to be done to keep our cen­tral cities and their sur­round­ing sub­urbs healthy and pros­per­ous. It is not just a ques­tion of more spend­ing and greater fund­ing for infra­struc­ture. Although impor­tant, our cities more urgent­ly need some atten­tion and recog­ni­tion of their sig­nif­i­cance. Unless we rec­og­nize the val­ue gen­er­at­ed by our urban areas and active­ly work to ampli­fy that val­ue, we will be com­mit­ting our­selves to slow­er growth and reduced pros­per­i­ty for all.

The report is a prod­uct of a col­lab­o­ra­tive effort of the fol­low­ing orga­ni­za­tions:

Mar­tin Pros­per­i­ty Insti­tute, Rot­man School of Man­age­ment, Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to;

  • Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to Cities Cen­tre;
  • The Urban Stud­ies Pro­gramme at Innis Col­lege, Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to;
  • The Cen­tre on Gov­er­nance, Uni­ver­si­ty of Ottawa;
  • Cen­tre de Recherche en Amé­nage­ment et en Développe­ment, Uni­ver­sité Laval;
  • Dal­housie Uni­ver­si­ty;
  • INRS Urban­i­sa­tion Cul­ture Société;
  • Queen’s Uni­ver­si­ty; and,
  • The School of Envi­ron­ment, Enter­prise and Devel­op­ment, Uni­ver­si­ty of Water­loo.

Fur­ther infor­ma­tion on the report is online at

The Rot­man School of Man­age­ment at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to is redesign­ing busi­ness edu­ca­tion for the 21st cen­tu­ry with a cur­ricu­lum based on Inte­gra­tive Think­ing. Locat­ed in the world’s most diverse city, the Rot­man School fos­ters a new way to think that enables the design of cre­ative busi­ness solu­tions.  The School is cur­rent­ly rais­ing $200 mil­lion to ensure Cana­da has the world-class busi­ness school it deserves. For more infor­ma­tion, vis­it




For more infor­ma­tion, please con­tact:


Ken McGuf­fin
Man­ag­er, Media Rela­tions
Rot­man School of Man­age­ment
Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to
Fol­low Rot­man on Twit­ter @rotmanschool