Humes: Downtown workers come in from far and wide

Grant Humes–

The City of Toronto recently presented its Toronto Employment Survey 2015 at the February Planning and Growth Committee, and the numbers are good. Toronto saw its second-best year of employment growth in the last decade, adding 37,870 jobs, or 2.7% employment growth.

Of the City of Toronto’s new employment opportunities this year, 36% of jobs were located in the Downtown core (roughly bordered by Bathurst, Bloor and the DVP). Within Downtown itself, 66% were in the office category that would encompass nearly all jobs in the Financial District.

One of our key policy themes at the Toronto Financial District BIA is to highlight how our Downtown core is an asset not only for Downtown Toronto, but also for the entire City of Toronto and the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Region (GTHA).

To clarify what we mean, take a look at who actually works Downtown each day, and where they live. We completed a survey in 2015 of the workday population. These are the people who are here 9-5, Monday to Friday. As you would expect, 25% of Downtown workers also live in the three Downtown wards. An additional 39% live in the rest of the City of Toronto limits.

Most surprising in our survey was the significant population of Downtown workers who live outside the City of Toronto altogether; in Mississauga, Durham, Markham, Burlington. More than a third of those working in the Financial District—36%—actually live outside Toronto limits.

These are people from the GTHA region who are willing to take on an especially long commute each day to access the job opportunities afforded in Downtown Toronto.

There are significant policy implications in this information that are often lost, especially with regard to transit investment.

The entire region is in this together. This is not Downtown vs. suburbs—one municipality vs. another—as politics would sometimes suggest. With local governments funded mainly through property taxes, the growth of good jobs in Downtown Toronto mean that income made here is spread across the 905.

Conversations about transit improvements would also benefit from an honest look at where employment growth is happening. Better transit is about getting people to jobs.

Better transit connections in and out of the Downtown core can get people from all parts of Toronto and across the GTHA to the best employment opportunities, of which we are still seeing significant growth in the Financial District.

If you’d like to see more of the city’s analysis of 2015 employment growth, download Profile Toronto: Employment Survey 2015” from their website.

To learn more about what’s going in the Financial District each day, visit and follow @MyTOFD on Twitter and Instagram.

Grant Humes is Executive Director of the Toronto Financial District BIA.