As we move into the winter months and look towards a new year, the residents and taxpayers of Toronto have a lot to look forward to – new subways, a bright economic outlook, more jobs and a stronger economy.
My administration has focused on creating an attractive climate for business and investment, and that focus is paying off. Under this administration, Toronto has become a magnet for business and investment. Today, Toronto is a global economic powerhouse. We are consistently rated as one of the top destinations for business and investment in the world.
My administration has created a new economic growth plan called Collaborating for Competitiveness - A Strategic Plan to Accelerate Economic Growth and Job Creation in Toronto. This plan sets targets for improving the quality of jobs in Toronto and commits to harmonizing the policies/activities of the City of Toronto and its agencies to help create a more attractive climate for business and investment.
When I took office, the unemployment rate in Toronto was fluctuating around 11 per cent. Three years later, Toronto’s unemployment rate is now at 7.1%. Statistics Canada’s seasonally adjusted monthly employment data indicates that Toronto’s unemployment rate in August 2013 was 7.1%, 2.9% lower than the August 2012 rate of 10%. Toronto is also seeing its highest jobs numbers in 23 years. We now have 58,000 more residents employed than just one year ago.
Growth in Toronto’s arts and entertainment sector represents 13,000 of those jobs, which is why I recently led a music trade mission to Austin, Texas. Austin is the Live Music Capital of the World, and Toronto is one of the most economic and culturally diverse cities in North America. Austin is one third the size of Toronto, yet they have created an impressive music industry that generates $1.6 billion in economic activity each year – three times as much as our music industry here in Toronto. We went to Austin because we understand the direct economic link between the arts and a vibrant economy. This mission also provided insight into how the City can promote and foster Toronto’s internationally respected music sector and how the City, working with Toronto’s music industry, can position Toronto as an international live music tourist destination.
As I’ve mentioned before, Toronto’s film, television, commercials and animation industry has also been experiencing tremendous success. Direct production expenditures in 2012 of $1.2 billion match the highest level achieved in the city since 2000, 5.9 per cent above 2011. This is the second consecutive year spending has been over a billion dollars. Here again, making Toronto a better place to do business will create jobs, economic growth and prosperity.
In order to do business well, the City of Toronto needs to improve how people get around the city. It wasn’t easy, but we now have all three levels of government committed to building new subways in Toronto. Three years ago I promised that if I were elected Mayor, we would build new subways in Toronto, and that’s exactly what we are doing. Residents in Scarborough have waited long enough for quality rapid transit. That wait is almost over. I want to thank the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario for their commitment to the residents of Scarborough and to all of Toronto.
By building the Scarborough subway expansion, we are investing in getting the city of Toronto moving. Together, we are building transit that will benefit Toronto residents for the next 100 years. Extending the subway into the heart of Scarborough will improve the quality of life for commuters, reduce congestion and transform communities. It will also create countless new jobs and create significant economic growth.
Together, we are investing in the future of Toronto.
In the coming year, I pledge to continue to work for the residents and taxpayers of this great city, for a better economic future, for lower taxes, and for furthering the vision of a fully integrated subway system for our great city.
Mayor Rob Ford