Ontario competes, but has room to grow

Over the past 8 months, the Martin Prosperity Institute has been collecting a massive data set to analyze how well regions in North America perform on our 3Ts of economic development. We did this so that we could benchmark how well Ontario and its regions compete.

So how did Ontario measure up?

Our analytical lens has three facets — technology, talent and tolerance — as a means to judge the performance of the region relative to other jurisdictions and their future socio-economic prosperity. Here is the theory in a nutshell (see Ontario Competes for a more in-depth explanation): with the concentration of talent and the multitude of perspectives that comes with people being able to carve out their own space in a new community (tolerance) come new technologies and innovations that support continued growth (technology). Each of the 3Ts plays an important role in the ability of regions to attract the Creative Class, AKA people working in occupations who are paid to think, which includes those in technology, arts and culture, professional as well as education and health. Increased levels of creativity as measured by our 3T aggregate (the Creativity Index) tend to increase both average total income and the GDP per capita of the region.

Ontario competes, but not as effectively as it could. On the talent index (population over 25 with a bachelor’s degree or above), Ontario ranks 16th out of 21 peers. On tolerance, Ontario has mixed performance leading the way on foreign born population percentages and nets a top five performance on attracting the artistically creative, but just above or below average on other dimensions.

The results for technology are where the light grows dim. We do have certain regions attracting the talent necessary to innovate and we have great industry clusters with lots of people working in technology. However, Ontario’s patent performance is dismal and lengths behind leading peers like California and Massachusetts. What we found was that Ontario’s city regions tend to perform averagely compared to their peer group and often rank in the middle five or below.

Ontario has many of the key inputs, but, according to the analysis, the output is sub-optimal.

Our assessment shows that while Ontario has challenges to overcome for sustained economic development, we are confident that by harnessing the creativity of all Ontarians — in every region — the province can become a global leader.