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
68Collectively, we must also ensure that working people have accessto affordable childcare options, and that those looking for jobs orunable to work are able to meet their basic living needs and fundtheir job searches.TRANSPORTATIONAnyone who lives in the Toronto region knows that we have acongestion crisis that is directly affecting our quality of life,health, and economy. The situation is particularly bleak for peoplewho depend most on public transit: seniors, youth and peopleliving with low incomes. Unless we make dramatic improvements,these and other costs of congestion will soar from $6-billion to$15-billion per year by 2030. Fortunately, our regionaltransportation agency, Metrolinx, has created "The Big Move," aregional plan that will reduce commute times by making region-wide improvements to roads, public transit, and activetransportation modes like walking and biking. The Big Move willput over 80 percent of Toronto region residents within twokilometres of rapid transit.These much-needed improvements to our transportationinfrastructure won't happen unless each of us, with the support ofour region's leaders, keep calling out the need for them. AtCivicAction, we will be working to broaden awareness and supportfor The Big Move and to convene some adult conversations abouthow we will pay for it to be implemented.IMMIGRATIONThe Greater Toronto Area has long been a magnet forimmigrants, who have been pivotal in building our economy.However, the last decade has seen 17 percent fewer immigrantscoming to the region, and those who do come, generally earnmuch less than their Canadian-born counterparts. Ourpopulation is aging and retiring earlier, so immigrants will soonmake up 100 percent of our labour growth. We need to workharder to attract immigrants to the Toronto region and providethem with reasons to stay.To keep the Toronto region at the top of the list for potentialnewcomers, we have to offer attractive job prospects, efficienttransportation options, and decent affordable housing; the samethings desired by people already here. We must also work harderto help immigrants get into jobs that match their abilities andincome potential, so that they can contribute to their full potentialas quickly as possible. Having established the Toronto RegionImmigrant Employment Council and DiverseCity: The GreaterToronto Leadership Project with Maytree, CivicAction is preparedto work with the government, the business community, and otherpartners to improve our policies and programs for attracting andsettling immigrants.With the help of our many partners, we at CivicAction are workingto advance these new directions and continue our existing work onthe environment, diversity, and developing new civic leaders. Butmaking real and sustained progress will require residents andother organizations to take action. Whether it's municipalitiesreaching out to each other to market the region or individualsspeaking out on a policy or need, there's a role for each of us.Breaking Boundaries calls on us to go beyond what we might havedone in the past and to look for new opportunities to be part of acollective leadership that thinks and acts like a region inadvancing us all.CivicAction is a multi-sectoral coalition of thousands of civic leaders committed to acting collectively to tackle tough issues andbig opportunities facing the Toronto region. Originally founded by David Peacaut as the Toronto City Summit Alliance, its currentinitiatives are aimed at creating a leadership landscape that better reflects the region's diversity (DiverseCity: the Greater TorontoLeadership Project in partnership with Maytree), making the Toronto region flourish through environmental action and innovation(Greening Greater Toronto), and connecting and supporting rising city-builders (the Emerging Leaders Network).For more information, visit www.civicaction.caOntario Premier Dalton McGuinty and Canada's Minister of Finance Jim Flahertyaddress the audience at CivicAction's Greater Toronto Summit 2011.