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Labour Force

Diversity of Labour Force

As foreign investors look to expand their businesses abroad, an important factor affecting their decision to locate in Toronto is the diversity of the city's population. As businesses look to be locally situated and globally active, access to a labour pool that is multicultural allows companies to more effectively engage in international markets. In addition, the diversity of the population acts as a signal to entrepreneurs and small and medium sized business owners that global cities like Toronto are tolerant and open to new ideas.

Toronto is the most multicultural city in Canada, and arguably North America. 51% of Toronto's population is foreign-born, compared to only 36.8% in New York City. The Toronto region is home to 37.4% of all foreign-born people in Canada. Among the many different cultures in Toronto, 51% of the immigrants in the City are from Asia. The top three countries of origin are China, the Philippines, and India. Toronto is home to the largest Chinese (594,735) and Indian (572,250) populations in the country.

The official languages in Canada are English and French; however, there are 1.4 million people in the City of Toronto that speak a non-official language. The languages most often spoken are Mandarin, Cantonese, Tamil, Hindu, Urdu, Tagalog, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese. Each of these has a community of 50,000 people or more who are able to converse in that language, making it possible to do your business in any language, without leaving the office.

Source: Statistics Canada, 2013. National Household Survey Profile, 2011.

Size of Labour Force

Toronto's economy depends upon the quality, ingenuity and commitment of its workers. Luckily, Toronto's 3.2 million-strong regional labour force is not only the largest in Canada, but also one of the most diverse, both culturally and in terms of marketable skills. For employers, Toronto is the world's second lowest risk city for recruiting, employing and relocating employees, according to Aon's 2012 People Risk Ratings.

Labour Force Data Toronto CMA, Ontario and Canada 2011

Source: Toronto Labour Force Overview 2011, City of Toronto; Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey; City of Toronto Population and Employment Projections
Population 15 years + 4,785,000 10,926,300 27,987,300
Labor Force 3,229,500 7,301,700 18,699,400
Employment 2,960,000 6,731,300 17,306,200
Unemployment 269,400 570,400 1,393,100
Unemployment Rate 8.3% 7.8% 7.4%
For more information on Toronto's regional labour market, see the "Toronto Region Labour Market Monitor: Service Canada June 2010".

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Age of Labour Force

Nearly one-third of Toronto's labour force is between the ages of 25 and 44, representing a large, well-educated pool of workers at the height of their productivity.

See table below for Toronto regional age pyramid.

Age Distribution of the Toronto CMA & Canada

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Strengthening the Labour Pool through Immigration

To complete its labour needs, Toronto also welcomes a large number of new immigrants who come to Canada each year. The OECD Territorial Reviews cites Canada’s federal immigration policies as a key contributor to Toronto’s success in attracting highly skilled immigrants.

Recent changes to Canada's immigration policies include:

  • Canadian Experience Class
    Allows temporary workers and foreign students who have graduated from Canadian universities and who have relevant Canadian work experience to apply for permanent resident status.

  • Off-Campus Work Permit Program
    Allows foreign students to work up to 20 hours per week during academic sessions and full-time during breaks.

  • Post-Graduation Work Permit Program
    Allows international students to work for up to three years after graduation in any occupation, without a previous job offer.

Businesses can learn more about bringing existing personnel into Canada by visiting

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Major Occupational Groupings

Toronto's regional occupation profile is vibrant and diverse. The Sales and Service and Business Finance Administration occupational groupings account for a total of 43% of the region's workforce, while various smaller occupational groupings round out the City's talent pool.

Between 2009 and 2014, many of these occupational sectors are expected to grow into the double digits. The fastest growing is expected to be the Sciences sector, which includes engineering and other technical occupations.

Click here to view the City of Toronto's 58 occupational profiles.

Labour Force by Occupation, 2009

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Additional Resources

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC)
The mission of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) is to build a stronger and more competitive Canada by helping Canadians lead productive and rewarding lives.

Ontario Ministry of Labour Ontario Ministry of Labour
The ministry's mission is to advance safe, fair and harmonious workplace practices that are essential to the social and economic well-being of the people of Ontario.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC)
Citizenship and Immigration Canada selects skilled workers from around the world based on their education, work experience, knowledge of English and/or French and other criteria.

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Age pyramid of the Toronto region and Canada's population.
Summary statistics including total employment and the unemployment rate
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Highlights of the 2011 People Risk Index Ratings
Study looks at the risks related to recruitment, employment and retirement. Aon survied 110 cities worldwide based on population size, population growth, the level of foreign investment and geographic spread.
Year: 2011
Categories: Labour Force
Knowledge-based clusters of US and Canadian metropolitan areas
Whitepaper sites new academic research showing that the types of skills that are important to job and economic performance in urban regions.
Year: 2010
Categories: Talent
Obtaining Patent Protection in Canada
Introduction to the Canadian patent system.
Year: 2009
Categories: Green Energy, ICT (Information and Communications Technology), Life Science, Talent
Toronto as a Global City: Scorecard on Prosperity
Economic and labour attractiveness indicators measure the economic performance of the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area (CMA), relative to 23 other metropolitan regions from around the world.
Year: 2010
Categories: Business Environment, Talent
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