The province of Ontario is the economic heart of Canada and as a result, all types of industries are present in the province, most notably in Toronto and other urban areas. The province is home to a strong modern service and information economy, along with a solid manufacturing base. Ottawa is the seat of government and of most federal ministries, which helps it to attract businesses as well as non-commercial organizations of an international nature.
Ontario’s main international manufacturing sector is the auto industry, where Canadian companies are among world leaders. After a period of stagnation in the industry, the past three years has seen major investments by leading manufacturers in new plants and technologies. The province also has strong natural resource-based industries. A long established mining sector includes nickel and iron mines. The province’s vast forests support a lumber, pulp and paper industry that has adapted new sustainable practices. In addition eco-tourism is on the rise as people look to enjoy the different recreational activities that Ontario’s natural environment has to offer.
The unemployment rate in Ontario is slightly below the national average and stands at 6.6%. With an economy that is thriving and diverse, job opportunities in Ontario span the full range of professions, from agriculture to information technology. Job creation levels in the province have been strong in recent years, and are expected to continue.
On average, residents of Ontario earn incomes that rank among the highest in Canada. Some of the costs of living are however also elevated, especially with respect to housing. The average income for families in Ontario is the second highest in the country at $59,700 per year. Ontario also has the second highest mandatory minimum wage at $10.25/hr. The effective provincial tax rate is 17.41%, i.e. 5th highest in Canada.
Even with a cost of living that is slightly above the Canadian average, the high incomes available in Ontario can afford a standard of living that ranks among the world’s highest. Toronto and Ottawa are perennial favourites in rankings of the world’s most livable cities, known for their cleanliness, safety and availability of services in comparison to other cities of similar size. This high standard of living has made Ontario the top destination for new immigrants to Canada. Of the over 250 000 people who come to Canada to become permanent residents each year, approximately 60% land in Ontario.
Due to their continual growth and larger populations, Ontario’s major cities have some of the more expensive housing markets in Canada. It should be kept in mind however that the higher incomes in the province help to offset this higher cost, and that this trend does not apply as strongly to smaller cities in Ontario. Nonetheless, many families choose to lower their costs by living in suburban areas surrounding Ontario’s major cities.
The average price of a house in the city of Toronto is above $350,000 and above $250,000 for Ottawa. Overall, the percentage of household income taken up by ownership costs in Ontario ranges from 25-41% depending on the city and the type of dwelling involved.
Ontario is home to world leading research institutions that anchor a strong publicly-funded provincial education system. For kindergarten through grade 12, children living in Ontario may enroll in public, Catholic and French immersion schools throughout the province, funded by the taxpayer and teaching curriculum designed and monitored by the Government of Ontario. Catholic separate schools are guaranteed as a right in the Canadian constitution, to protect the historical Catholic minority. In many areas, publicly funded alternative schools are also available as an educational option for children. Ontario is also a leader in special education programs.
Until 2003, Ontario had a Grade 13 in its secondary school system. This university-preparatory year was replaced by a new province-wide standardized curriculum that includes courses geared towards students bound for university, technical or career colleges and for skilled trade apprenticeships and direct-workplace entry. The new standardized program is designed to ensure fairness and quality throughout all of the province’s schools.
Ontarios post-secondary education system consists of a network of publicly funded institutions. These institutions span a wide range of subjects and careers, with the well-renowned research universities complemented by colleges of applied arts and technology, agricultural colleges, and other unique professional programs. Ontario’s universities are among the world’s best and recognized internationally as such. Most notably, Ontario is the home of the University of Toronto, Queens University, York University and the University of Western Ontario. The average yearly tuition paid by Ontario students is $4900, slightly below the national average.
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