Task Force Releases First Annual Report

Released November 5th, 2002

Ontario is at a crossroads in its economic development. The province can be satisfied with being a solid player, or it can aspire to be one of the handful of outstanding economic regions in the world setting.

This challenge was issued today by the Ontario Task Force on Competitiveness, Productivity and Economic Progress, a group of industry and academic leaders appointed by the Premier and chaired by Roger Martin, Dean of the Rotman School of Management.

In its First Annual Report, the Task Force urged Ontarians to seek a place among the leading regions and presented four recommendations to begin the process of achieving this goal.

The Task Force recommends that Ontarians raise their aspirations to eliminate the widening prosperity gap over the next decade. “A recurring theme in our research and deliberations is that Ontario’s economic performance is very respectable compared to most other regions in the world. But our research shows that, compared with our peer group of US states, Ontario has a prosperity gap of nearly $6,000 per person in the province. The Task Force believes we can’t be satisfied with that performance when we know that these states draw on essentially the same resources as we have and achieve much higher per capita GDP - which translates into higher wages and a higher standard of living,” said Martin. “As a society, it’s as if we stop one step short of the effort and investment required to raise our performance to match their results.”

Other recommendations are aimed initiatives to begin closing the gap, mainly by increasing Ontario’s productivity, which offers the most potential for raising performance.

The Task Force recommended increases in investment in post-secondary education and machinery and equipment. Martin noted that post-secondary education is a key predictor of productivity and prosperity and that overall per capita spending, especially in universities, in the US peer group was double that in Ontario. He also noted that Ontario’s investments in machinery and equipment are generally lower than in the US. “The key question for Ontarians is whether we are investing adequately for our future prosperity or are using it for current consumption” said Martin.

The Task Force also recommended breakthrough tax reform. Their research shows that Ontario’s taxes, from all levels and sources, are higher than those in a cross-section of the peer group states. These factors inhibit the entrepreneurialism and innovation necessary to raise output and performance.

Finally, the Task Force urged all levels of government to recognize the importance of cities in Ontario’s economic progress. “We continue to be struck by how powerful cities are in driving productivity and prosperity for all Ontarians. Ontario has a lower percentage of our people living in urban settings than in our peer group,” said Martin. “Let’s make sure we’re not standing in the way of the natural flow of people to our cities.”

The Task Force also presented its agenda for continuing its research work over the coming year that will explore further initiatives to raise prosperity and living standards across the province. As well, it will continue to engage business leaders, academics, regional development agencies and the public in a consultation process.

The complete report can be downloaded from:
http://www.competeprosper.ca/task/ar2002.pdf

For more information contact James Milway, Executive Director of the Institute for Competitiveness and Prosperity at 416.920.1921 ext. 222.

About the Task Force
The creation of the Task Force on Competitiveness, Productivity and Economic Progress was announced in Ontario’s April 2001 Speech from the Throne. Roger L. Martin, Dean of the Joseph L. Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, is the Chairman.

The mandate of the Task Force 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. Members of the Task Force were announced on October 17, 2001. See www.CompeteProsper.ca for further information.

The aspiration of the Task Force is to have a significant influence in increasing Ontario’s competitiveness, productivity and capacity for innovation. This, they believe, will help ensure continued success in the creation of good jobs, increased prosperity and a high quality of life for all Ontarians. The Task Force intends to seek breakthrough findings from their research and to propose significant innovations in public policy in order to stimulate businesses, governments and educational institutions to take action.

About the Institute for Competitiveness and Prosperity
The Institute 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 Enterprise, Opportunity and Innovation.