66Earlier this year, CivicAction convened over 1000 regional leaders from business,government, non-profits, labour and academia at its Greater Toronto Summit 2011. Asa multi-sectoral coalition of civic leaders, CivicAction works to break boundariesbetween sometimes competing groups to collectively tackle the tough issues andbig opportunities facing the Toronto region. The two-day Summit embraced ourphilosophy that no issue --whether social, economic or environmental --should beaddressed by any one sector or by government alone. We believe that the key to tacklingthese challenges lies in collaboration and galvanizing action in order to improve thehealth and prosperity of our region.
67his year's Summit included intense discussions on tenpressing issues: The Economy, Jobs & Income,Transportation, Immigration, Diversity, Environment,Housing, Neighbourhoods, Arts & Culture andPan/Parapan Am Games & Youth. Participantsengaged with close to 100 speakers, including Federal FinanceMinister Jim Flaherty and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, whoall highlighted the importance of a strong Toronto region for thefuture of Canada. In response, participants agreed that we shouldbe focusing our efforts on regional economic development supportedby action on the biggest (and most closely related) issues facingour region --transportation, immigration, and jobs and incomes.CivicAction's full Summit report, "Breaking Boundaries: Time toThink and Act Like a Region" is available online atwww.civicaction.ca/breakingboundaries and highlights a numberof innovative actions and priorities for our organization, ourpartners and other organizations to review. However, here aresome priority areas that we believe are essential for immediateattention in order to improve conditions for the benefit of all of uswithin the Greater Toronto Area.THE ECONOMYThe Toronto region has major commercial advantages, includingits competitive costs of doing business, a well-educated andskilled work force, and diverse industry strengths ranging fromfinancial services and automotive to food production,biotechnology, and ICT. But our jobless rate is high at 8.5 percent(at the time of the conference) and annual economic growth isprojected to stagnate at two percent per year.To ensure that we make the most of our strengths, andeffectively promote ourselves to potential investors and talent,the Summit recommended that government, business, and otherleaders cooperate to brand and market the region. AtCivicAction, we are now working with a wide range of people andorganizations to determine how best to increase and leverageregional economic development.JOBS & INCOMEThe Greater Toronto region weathered the recession better thanmost cities, but our recovery has left many people behind. Toomany residents are living in poverty, and our training andemployment programs have not responded to a changing world ofwork in which contract and part-time jobs without benefits arebecoming the norm. We need to better align our income support,employment services, and skills training programs to ensure thatall residents have access to jobs and are able to fully contributeto our community and regional prosperity.CivicAction will work with its partners to increase awareness anddrive coordinated solutions to the increasing mismatch betweenour labour market demand and supply and growing incomeinequality. Our governments will also need to work together withbusinesses and other employers to chart a plan for future jobs andthe education and training that will be required for those roles.BoundariesBreakingTBy Julia Deans, CEO, Greater Toronto CivicAction AlliancePhotos by Hightop Studios.Time to Think and Act Like a Region