'Unprecedented' economic gathering launches new era of collaboration for Greater Toronto region


    MARKHAM, ON, May 7 /CNW/ - Delegates representing all levels of
government, business, labour, academic and institutions will assemble today
for an unprecedented event to address the future of Greater Toronto's economy
and develop an action plan to revive the region.
    The Greater Toronto Region Economic Summit, held at Seneca College in
Markham, marks the beginning of a fundamental shift in the collective attitude
and approach toward the largest urban economy in the country. Key opinion
research (conducted by NANOS Research) informed the day's discussions and
demonstrated a significant appetite for government intervention and specific
solutions to the region's economic challenges. See Findings below for detail.
    "We are impressed by the level of collaboration among this diverse group
of individuals, groups, businesses and government," says event co-chair and
Mississauga Mayor, Hazel McCallion. "This is just the beginning of a
productive and promising association between our communities and the
revitalization of our region."
    More than 250 professionals and community leaders will roll up their
sleeves for the full-day working session that includes the participation of
federal Finance Minister and Minister responsible for the GTA, Jim Flaherty,
provincial Economic Development Minister Michael Bryant, local MP and GTA
caucus chair, Mike Wallace, Toronto Mayor David Miller, Markham Mayor Frank
Scarpitti and Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion.

    Co-chaired by Mayor McCallion and Torstar's John Honderich, the
invitation-only working session will focus on four key economic challenges
facing the region:
    -   Leveraging our financial services sector
    -   Restructuring our manufacturing base
    -   Investing in our human capital
    -   Promoting research, innovation, and creativity

    "Greater Toronto is truly unique in its strength and diversity," says
John Honderich. "The Summit is the perfect example of the leadership and
potential we have to emerge from this crisis stronger than ever."


    A new Nanos poll conducted in partnership with the Greater Toronto Region
Economic Summit and The Toronto Star shows that Ontarians are ready for action
and government intervention on a scale rarely seen. The research indicates
that Ontarians were more likely to be pessimistic and concerned about the
state and strength of the economy compared to their compatriots in other parts
of Canada.
    Nanos showed that Ontarians' top short-term priorities should include
restructuring our industrial base and investing in our labour force while, for
the long-term, Ontarians would prefer a balanced approach which would be a mix
of investments in people, industry, research and financial services.
    A significant majority of Ontarians also believed the government should
intervene to support key sectors of the economy.
    But even with this appetite for a government role, there was a
significant "no" to the proposition of increasing personal taxes to help the
government cushion the negative impact of the economic downturn. The message:
"don't turn to taxpayers today to fight the downturn".
    "In the case of Ontario - it adds up to a call to action," says Nik
Nanos. "Ontarians clearly see the need for a broader strategic plan not only
for a short-term recovery but toward long-term prosperity. Even with our
diverse economy, dealing with the challenges in our financial and industrial
sectors will be the first critical steps in the Ontario recovery journey."


    Data collected from the Summit sessions will be analyzed by
representatives from Oliver Wyman. The end goal of the Summit is to develop a
ready-to-implement plan of action that will stimulate the GTR economy over the
next 18 months and beyond.
    The summit is being funded by delegate fees and sponsorship assistance
from the Government of Ontario, Invest Toronto/City of Toronto, RBC Financial
Group, Residential and Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario (RCCAO), Toronto
Board of Trade, The Carpenters' Union, Oliver Wyman, Seneca College, NANOS
Research, Dots (Data on the Spot), Vineland Estates Winery. For more
information on the summit, go to www.gtreconomicsummit.com.

For further information:

For further information: or media accreditation, please contact: Emma
Jowett, Counsel Public Relations, Cell: (416) 909-6463, ejowett@counselpr.ca

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