Ontario's Long-Term Report on the Economy
Foreword

Three years ago, our government released its long-term report on the economy. As with past documents, this report looks 20 years into the future and outlines how Ontario’s economic potential will be shaped by opportunities and challenges.

One of government’s central responsibilities is to plan for the long term. As a forward-looking government, we track demographic and economic trends and projections and put measures in place today that will help address the challenges of tomorrow. The impact of some of those trends is already being felt. Take, for instance, the aging of our population. As of 2016, more Ontarians now turn 65 each year than turn 15, and the number of seniors in the province is projected to almost double by 2040. We are already responding to this shift through the expansion and transformation of social services and health care. Ontario’s leadership role in facilitating an important enhancement to the Canada Pension Plan serves as an excellent example of how changes made today will not only improve future quality of life, but also generate a significant, positive economic impact.

Ontario’s strength has always been our people. Our highly skilled workforce will continue to be our competitive edge. Whether retraining laid-off workers, helping skilled immigrants bridge into new careers or transforming student assistance to provide free college or university tuition for students with financial need, our government is focused on preparing people of all ages for success in a changing and dynamic economy. To offset projected slower labour force growth, we must continue to broaden labour force participation and focus on innovative ways to improve productivity.

Equally important to training people for the jobs of the future is ensuring that Ontario is home to those jobs. Ontario’s diversified economy has positioned us well in our recovery from the 2008 global financial crisis and in weathering changes to currency valuations or commodity prices. Employment continues to grow and our unemployment rate has been below the national average for the past 20 months. Our plans to stay at the forefront of both the global shift to a low-carbon economy and transformative, potentially disruptive, technologies will lead to greater employment opportunities and economic growth, as will our competitive corporate income tax rates and our focus on modernizing regulations and reducing business costs.

Since 2014, Ontario has experienced stronger economic growth than the rest of Canada and most G7 nations. Private-sector economists expect this trend to continue for the next few years. The benefits of this growth, however, have not been uniformly experienced across the province. Looking ahead, significant differences in regional population growth patterns will continue to be driven by industry and demographic trends. Whether in the short or long term, inclusive growth that works for all is key to preparing Ontario for a bright future.

In the coming months, I will be tabling the 2017 Ontario Budget. Underpinned by a commitment to putting the Province’s finances on a sustainable basis, our plan has allowed us to beat our deficit targets seven years in a row while also making critical investments in the public services Ontarians rely on. With Ontario’s population expected to grow by approximately 23 per cent over the next 20 years, we recognize that our infrastructure must be expanded and renewed. Our historic investments in building hospitals, schools, public transit and roads will not only strengthen our economic climate, but our communities as well, keeping people connected to each other and to critical services.

While some of the issues confronting Ontario are clearly outlined in this report, it is more difficult to anticipate any new challenges that may emanate from an evolving global environment. There is potential that the rise in protectionism associated with Brexit and the new U.S. administration could impact economic growth, both here at home and internationally. Amid uncertainty, we are confident that global markets will continue to value our expertise, products, services and resources.

As I look ahead, I am confident that through our plan to grow the economy and create a dynamic business climate, we will build on what we have accomplished together and foster greater opportunity for more Ontarians.

[original signed by]

The Honourable Charles Sousa
Minister of Finance