Task Force releases Eleventh Annual Report

Released November 29th, 2012

November 29, 2012

Ontario’s prosperity gap with peer jurisdictions persists.  The time to push for the economic growth Ontario needs is now.

As the recession recedes, the Task Force on Competitiveness, Productivity and Economic Progress calls on all Ontarians to build on the province’s strengths and make the decisions and investments needed to achieve the 2020 Prosperity Agenda.  The Task Force singles out the “dead cash” on the balance sheets of Ontario businesses as an opportunity to enhance the province’s prosperity.

Toronto – The Task Force is concerned that a new status quo of slow or stagnant economic growth for Ontario’s economy is developing.  If economic growth languishes at less than 2 percent annually, everything from government funding and programs to private sector competitiveness and employment will be impacted.  The challenge is to take advantage of Ontario’s relative strength and stability now and push for the growth that can be achieved.  This is the key conclusion of the Eleventh Annual Report, A push for growth: The time is now, released today by the Task Force on Competitiveness, Productivity and Economic Progress.

In its Report, the Task Force reaffirms that Ontario’s economy is one of the world’s most successful when compared to similar regions outside North America.  Ontario’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita ranks 5th among a peer group of 13 prosperous international regions.  But among a set of 16 North American peer jurisdictions,  Ontario continues to lag. The Task Force reports that Ontario’s GDP per capita ranked 14th among those peers and lagged the median of the 16 North American peer jurisdictions by $7,500.  When the Task Force began measuring Ontario’s ranking in 2001, the province was 14th among the same peers.  This continued lagging performance mediocrity represents lost prosperity, which negatively affects Ontarians at all income levels, and needs to be addressed now.

Roger Martin, Dean of the Rotman School of Management and Chairman of the Task Force observed: “We have so many economic advantages in Ontario – a sound banking system, a strong housing market, a robust dollar, a tradition of building great infrastructure, and a talented and diverse workforce. But the gap in GDP per capita with North American peers shows that Ontario needs to move now to push for more growth.” While we need to address our productivity in all areas, the Report singles out the “dead cash” on the balance sheets of Ontario’s companies as a unique opportunity. “That money can be used to invest in the physical and human capital we need to increase our productivity and close the prosperity gap,” said Martin.

The Report commends Ontario’s corporate leaders for the stability they have provided through turbulent economic times.  But now those same leaders need to invest in information and communication technology (ICT), as well as in efforts to improve the skills of their work force.  Companies also need to improve their management capability and find ways to scale up operations in Ontario.

While governments of all levels have made great strides in areas of public policy related to productivity, such as tax reform and post-secondary education investment, they must now concentrate their efforts on tackling deficits in a balanced way, providing appropriate incentives for business to invest, and improving the literacy and skills of the work force in a way that nurtures long-term productivity.

Finally, the Task Force needs to push itself to find new and creative ways of having its voice heard in Ontario.  The time to push for growth is now.

Actions to achieve the 2020 Prosperity Agenda
For business…
• Consider alternatives to holding larger cash balances and address the dead cash conundrum.
• Encourage private sector investment in ICT, skilled workers, and research and development.
• Scale up operations in Ontario firms and invest the appropriate resources in R&D.
• Improve management capability.
• Boost investment in machinery and equipment when the Canadian dollar is high to capitalize on the benefit of strong purchasing power.

For governments…
• Maintain investments in education in line with that of peer jurisdictions as efforts to balance the budget are made.
• Concentrate efforts to upgrade the skills and literacy of workers, particularly in service occupations and high value added manufacturing.
• Remove barriers that prevent robust trade with the global economy.
• Reinforce Ontario’s structures of specialized support and competitive pressure for businesses.
• Ensure that provincial and municipal governments are investing adequately in urban infrastructure to facilitate and support the inevitable growth of urban populations.

The complete report can be downloaded directly from:
http://www.competeprosper.ca/download.php?file=AR11_FINAL.pdf

For more information contact Jamison Steeve, Executive Director of the Institute for Competitiveness & Prosperity at 416-946-7585 or visit http://www.competeprosper.ca.

The creation of the Task Force on Competitiveness, Productivity and Economic Progress was announced in Ontario’s 2001 Speech from the Throne. Roger L. Martin, Dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, is the Chairman.  Its mandate is to measure and monitor Ontario’s competitiveness, productivity, and economic progress compared to other provinces and US states, and to report to the public on a regular basis.

The Institute for Competitiveness & Prosperity is an independent not-for-profit organization established in 2001 to serve as the research arm of Ontario’s Task Force on Competitiveness, Productivity and Economic Progress. The Institute and the Task Force are supported through the Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation.


* Ontario’s 12 international peer jurisdictions outside North America

• Baden-Württemberg (Germany)
• Bayern (Germany)
• Cataluña (Spain)
• Hessen (Germany)
• Kanto (Japan)
• Kinki (Japan)
• Lombardia (Italy)
• New South Wales (Australia)
• Nordrhein-Westfalen (Germany)
• Rhône-Alpes (France)
• South East (UK)
• Vlaams-Gewest (Belgium)

** Ontario’s 15 peer North American jurisdictions (14 US states and Quebec)

• California
• Florida
• Georgia
• Illinois
• Indiana
• Massachusetts
• Michigan
• New Jersey
• New York
• North Carolina
• Ohio
• Pennsylvania
• Quebec
• Texas
• Virginia