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Media Release

Board of Trade Launches New Productivity Council

TORONTO – April 24, 2024 - Today, the Toronto Region Board of Trade formally announced the creation of the Business Council of Toronto (BCT), a new initiative aimed at addressing one of the region’s most pressing challenges: our widening productivity gap.

As one of the most vibrant and diverse business hubs in North America, Toronto has long been celebrated for its innovation and economic prowess. However, the data shows our region’s GDP trails our competitors in the U.S. by over $72,000 per person, posing a significant threat to our competitiveness and long-term economic well-being.

Today’s announcement follows the inaugural BCT dinner, where CEO members gathered to discuss how the BCT will tackle our economic competitiveness and livability challenges head-on. The Council brings together a coalition of leaders focused on closing the productivity gap through piloting innovative projects and targeted advocacy initiatives to address barriers to economic growth.

“We’re kicking off a movement to make our region competitive again,” said Giles Gherson, President and CEO of the Toronto Region Board of Trade. “We will deliver legacy impact to our region by solving the biggest issues holding businesses back from gaining the competitive edge they need for success. We believe a thriving, competitive business climate not only enables economic prosperity, but upholds and enhances livability – strengthening the social fabric of our region.”

The Council's focus on productivity comes at an essential time. With 53 per cent of our largest employers in the region being foreign-owned multinationals, companies have a world of choice about where to invest and grow their business. If our region can’t compete, the growth of our crucial industries will continue slipping, resulting in lost opportunity and a decline in quality of life. By prioritizing productivity-enhancing initiatives in sectors like advanced manufacturing and the climate economy, the BCT aims to ensure Toronto both regains and maintains its foothold on the global stage for the next generation.

The Council is comprised of some of the most influential CEOs and leaders from across the region, including Blake Hutcheson, Jon Ramscar and Elio Luongo among its founding members.

“As one of the most diverse cities in the world, Toronto has long been a choice destination for people from around the globe to build their careers and grow their families. KPMG is committed to working with the BCT to ensure our city continues to deliver on its promise by attracting investment to create the well-paying jobs of the future. Jobs that enable economic prosperity, build vibrant communities and maintain Toronto’s place on the world stage.”

Elio Luongo, CEO and Senior Partner – KPMG Canada and Chair – Business Council of Toronto

“Our region is an international hub for innovation – a key to improving our productivity and growing our prosperity. Toronto is home to some of the most important foundational innovations in Canada and the world, but the challenge for our business community is to build productive capacity by adopting these innovations quickly, if we are to avoid falling behind international competition. That is why the BCT is so important — it is a coalition of our most influential senior leaders, all of whom are committed to resetting the current troubling trajectory of our region, to create global impact and sustainable economic prosperity in our region.”

Yung Wu, Chair – Toronto Region Board of Trade

“We want to ensure the Toronto region – an economic powerhouse within Canada – is a thriving and competitive place to do business for decades to come. By working together, we can help our community face the challenges ahead and build up our economy so future generations can call this region home.”

Blake Hutcheson, President and CEO – OMERS

“Like nearly half of the people living in this region, I chose to move here because of the many opportunities and quality of life. We have so much potential in this region, yet somehow, we have lost our way and our competitive advantage. As a parent and business leader, I am leaning in to support the Business Council of Toronto and develop solutions to the growing productivity gap to increase prosperity for future generations.”

Jon Ramscar, President and CEO – CBRE Canada

“As a firm focused on the future, we support the important work of the BCT in ensuring competitiveness and innovation continue to define our business community.”

Cindy Clarke, Regional Managing Partner, Toronto – Borden Ladner Gervais LLP

“Toronto teems with untapped potential, waiting to be unlocked. Achieving it requires equal parts innovation, optimism, and productivity. At Northcrest Developments, we’re driven by all three, especially as we embark on building a new “city within a city” at the Downsview Airport Lands. We're just one player among many in our city, but together, we are catalysts, capable of driving innovation at scale to improve our environment and our communities.”

Derek Goring, CEO – Northcrest Developments

“On behalf of BDC, I am thrilled to be working hand-in-hand with the BCT partners who are well positioned, in the Toronto ecosystem, to help Canadian businesses realize their full economic potential by improving their productivity & driving growth. This council will help build tailored solutions to support entrepreneurs in their quest to ramp-up productivity in this innovation era—boosting Ontario’s prosperity, and Canada’s position on the world stage.”

Mary Ann Wenzler, Vice President, GTA West – BDC

Current Business Council of Toronto members include:

  • Elio Luongo, CEO and Senior Partner – KPMG Canada and Chair, Business Council of Toronto
  • Blake Hutcheson, President and CEO – OMERS and Business Council of Toronto Founding Member
  • Jon Ramscar, President and CEO – CBRE Canada and Business Council of Toronto Founding Member
  • Cindy Clarke, Regional Managing Partner, Toronto – Borden Ladner Gervais LLP and Vice-Chair of the Climate and Energy Transition Council
  • Meric Gertler, President – University of Toronto and Executive Table Member
  • Derek Goring, CEO – Northcrest Developments – Chair of the Climate and Energy Transition Council
  • Mike Greenley, CEO – MDA Space Inc. and Executive Table Member
  • Joe Loparco, Co-President – AGS Automotive Systems and Tiercon Corp – Advanced Manufacturing Council
  • Cyrus Madon, Managing Partner and Executive Chair – Brookfield Private Equity Group and Brookfield Business Partners and Executive Table Member
  • Jayson Myers, CEO – NGen – Advanced Manufacturing Council
  • Hon. Lisa Raitt, Vice-Chair of Global Investment Banking – CIBC Capital Markets – Climate and Energy Transition Council
  • Gary Rose, Executive Vice-President, Canada, Nuclear at AtkinsRéalis and President & CEO of Candu Energy Inc. – Advanced Manufacturing Council
  • Frank Voss, President – Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada – Chair of the Advanced Manufacturing Council
  • Mary Ann Wenzler, Vice President, GTA West – BDC – Advanced Manufacturing Council
  • Darryl White – CEO – BMO and Executive Table Member


Special Advisors:

  • Steve Carlisle, Former Executive Vice President and President - General Motors North America
  • Rod Phillips, Former Ontario Minister of Finance

About The Toronto Region Board of Trade

The Toronto Region Board of Trade is one of the largest and most influential business chambers in North America and is a catalyst for the region’s economic agenda. We pursue policy change to drive the growth and competitiveness of the Toronto region and facilitate market opportunities with programs, partnerships and connections to help our members succeed – domestically and internationally.

Media Contact 

Jason Chapman, Manager, Communications & Media Relations