For the manufacturers and exporters in Toronto, business conditions have changed dramatically over the past 5 years in response to economic volatility.

The manufacturing sector continues to decline-from 192,300 in 2000 to 129,500 in 2010 due to the shift from a goods-producing economy to a service-based economy. At the same time, some new opportunities are emerging in the sector, specifically in: aerospace, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.

Toronto is a centre for commercial aircraft manufacturing and systems integration, and has a proud history of technology leadership. The regional aircraft designed and built here help link communities around the world. Toronto-based companies were responsible for the famed Canadarm and other components of NASA’s remote Manipulator System. Today the aerospace sector continues to grow, generating significant exports and keeping Canada at the forefront of a key international industry.

The aerospace industry is crucial to economic growth in Toronto and in the province of Ontario. This cluster generates significant exports and bolsters Canada’s reputation as a research and development beacon within a thriving knowledge-based economy.

Toronto’s location ensures easy access to the world’s largest aerospace market, the United States, while offering lower production costs than many completing locations.

Toronto's biotechnology sector is ranked 4th largest in North America. It is home to 55% of Canada’s pharmaceutical companies, making the Toronto area the largest pharmaceutical cluster in the nation.  The industry re-invests over $1.1 billion annually in R&D in Canada, of which Ontario is the largest recipient, receiving more than $500 million.

The food industry is another vital economic force within the City of Toronto.  The City is a good location for the food industry due to the large market size, a broad ethnic diversity, a ready supply of well-educated staff and excellent infrastructure. It is the second largest food industry cluster in North America, with annual sales of $15 billion. The cluster also has a significant multiplier effect due to the variety of other industries forming the cluster, such as packaging and equipment manufacturing.   Nearly 400 food processing operations, spread across the city, comprise the heart of Toronto’s food industry.

Toronto is a major decision-making centre for the food industry in Canada, with half of Canada’s top-ranked food and beverage manufacturers being headquartered in the city.

Labour Force

More than 336,000 Torontonians are employed in manufacturing, representing 10% of the total workforce. Women represent only 31.8% of the industry labour force. 96.1% of the total workforce is employed full time and has the same profile of hours worked as elsewhere in Canada.

Age profile 

There is little difference between the age profile of the labour force for the manufacturing sector and that of the entire labour force.  Workers aged 35-54 represent 60% of the entire labour force. Eighteen percent of jobs in manufacturing are held by workers aged 55+. 

Educational attainment 

Thirty percent of the total manufacturing labour force has a University degree. Almost the same percentage (29.5%) of the workforce has a post-secondary diploma or certificate. 24.9% of the total sector are high school graduates.

Key facts 
  • Toronto’s food industry is the second largest, and the third fastest- growing, in North America.
  • Two–thirds of the food processing companies in Toronto have annual sales of more than $4 million.
  • The Toronto region aerospace cluster is the second largest in Canada, generating more than $ 6 billion annually in sales.
  • Toronto is one of only seven significant aerospace assembly centres in the world.
  • Manufacturing accounts for two-thirds of all business investments in research and development.
  • Out of 17,000 pharmaceutical jobs in Canada 11,000 are based in the Toronto area.
  • Out of 1,100 medical device companies, about 580 are located in the Toronto area.