Ontario: Still Canada’s biggest and best province


The province of Ontario is on the move, harnessing a historically rich and diverse economy to take full advantage of national economic conditions and continue providing jobs for a significant portion of Canadian workers.

Ontario is going through a period of change. In June 2018, Conservative businessman Doug Ford was elected premier of the province, ending a 15-year period of governance by the Liberal Party. It’s a change many Ontarians have been desperate for.
Ask any Ontarian and you’ll get a sense of how special this place is. A hive of vibrant multiculturalism and varied landscapes, Ontario has plenty to delight tourists and residents alike, and is home to about two in every 5 Canadians.

Historically, Ontario has a rich and diverse economy, the largest in Canada, with the province’s Ministry of Finance reporting GDP of over $830 billion for 2017, almost twice that of the next largest province, neighbouring Quebec.

It’s little surprise that Ontario has such a valuable economy. With a population of more than 14 million living across an area just over 1 million km2, it is the most populous province, and the fourth largest, in the country.

In 2017, the Greater Toronto area added almost 70,000 jobs to the province’s 7 million strong workforce.


Size and diversity help the province excel in a number of different economic sectors, with manufacturing in particular playing a major role. Ontario is the leading Canadian province for manufacturing, providing almost half of the country’s manufacturing GDP in 2012.
As a significant part of North America’s manufacturing heartland, Ontario’s key manufacturing industries include automobiles, biotech, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and information and communication technologies.

With manufacturing on the decline throughout the world, Ontario has suffered a significant loss of jobs in the sector since the turn of the century. However, the sector has remained strong, shipping more than $258bn worth of product in 2011.

The manufacturing industry is a key driver of jobs in the province. Ontario has the third highest number of manufacturing employees of any jurisdiction in Canada and the United States, behind only California and Texas.

The automotive industry is particularly strong in the province, with Ontario representing the largest sub-national automotive assembly jurisdiction in North America, with a recorded 88% of its vehicle production exported in 2011.

Agriculture forms an equally important part of the province’s economy, with Ontario being home to over half of the Class 1 farmland in Canada, the highest quality of land. In 2011, the province’s almost 52,000 farms made up nearly a quarter of national farm revenue.

The province also boasts an impressive innovation corridor along Highway 401, between Toronto and Waterloo, the second largest on earth next to California’s Silicon Valley, which employs 280,000 tech workers from around the world.

Other sectors that have continued to thrive through difficult conditions are forestry, which supports almost 200,000 direct and indirect jobs in Ontario, Mining, which produced more than $10bn in 2011, and the largest part of the province’s economy, the services industry.

Ontario is an important region for petroleum refining, and is the national leader for wind power. The Green Energy and Green Economy act of 2009 has helped the province make the move towards having a renewable-energy economy in years to come.

Recent reports on the province’s economy remain positive, with its major city Toronto in particular seeing something of a jobs boom. In 2017, the Greater Toronto area added almost 70,000 jobs to the province’s 7 million strong workforce.

According to the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario, the province saw an overall gain of 128,400 new jobs in 2017, its largest since 2003. Additionally, its unemployment rate dropped to 6%, representing the lowest rate since 2000.

In his new post as premier, Doug Ford has pledged to oversee a period of growth in the province of Ontario, proclaiming it ‘open for business’, with the promise of new jobs, lower taxes and less government waste.

The province’s growth is expected to slow a little this year, but with a fantastic economic infrastructure in place, and a number of sectors still leading the way, the province of Ontario is set to keep pulling its weight as a key player in the nation’s economy for years to come.


The Canadian Business Quarterly (The CBQ) provides an in-depth view of business and economic development issues taking place across the country. Featuring interviews with top executives, government policy makers and prominent industry bodies The CBQ examines the news beyond the headlines to uncover the drivers of local, provincial, and national affairs.

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