Ontario one of the 13 provinces and territories of Canada, is located in east-central Canada. It is Canada’s most populous province by a large margin, accounting for nearly 40 percent of all Canadians, and is the second-largest province in total area. Ontario is fourth-largest in total area when the territories of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut are included. It is home to the nation’s capital city, Ottawa, and the nation’s most populous city, Toronto.
Ontario is bordered by the province of Manitoba to the west, Hudson Bay and James Bay to the north, and Quebec to the east and northeast, and to the south by the U.S. states of (from west to east) Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York. Almost all of Ontario’s 2,700 km (1,678 mi) border with the United States follows inland waterways: from the west at Lake of the Woods, eastward along the major rivers and lakes of the Great Lakes/Saint Lawrence River drainage system. These are the Rainy River, the Pigeon River, Lake Superior, the St. Marys River, Lake Huron, the St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair, the Detroit River, Lake Erie, the Niagara River, Lake Ontario and along the St. Lawrence River from Kingston, Ontario, to the Quebec boundary just east of Cornwall, Ontario. There is only about 1 km (0.6 mi) of land border made up of portages including Height of Land Portage on the Minnesota border.
Ontario is sometimes conceptually divided into two regions, Northern Ontario and Southern Ontario. The great majority of Ontario’s population and arable land is located in the south. In contrast, the larger, northern part of Ontario is sparsely populated with cold winters and is heavily forested.
Ontario is Canada’s leading manufacturing province, accounting for 52% of the total national manufacturing shipments in 2004. Ontario’s largest trading partner is the American state of Michigan. As of April 2012, Moody’s bond-rating agency rated Ontario debt at AA2/stable, while S&P rated it AA-. Dominion Bond Rating Service rated it AA(low) in January 2013. Long known as a bastion of Canadian manufacturing and financial solvency, Ontario’s public debt-to-GDP ratio is projected to reach 40.3% in fiscal year 2016-2017, compared to 26% in 2007-2008.
Ontario’s rivers make it rich in hydroelectric energy. In 2009, Ontario Power Generation generated 70 percent of the electricity of the province, of which 51 percent is nuclear, 39 percent is hydroelectric and 10 percent is fossil-fuel derived. By 2025, nuclear power is projected to supply 42 percent, while fossil-fuel-derived generation is projected to decrease slightly over the next 20 years. Much of the newer power generation coming online in the last few years is natural gas or combined-cycle natural gas plants. OPG is not, however, responsible for the transmission of power, which is under the control of Hydro One. Despite its diverse range of power options, problems related to increasing consumption, lack of energy efficiency and aging nuclear reactors, Ontario has been forced in recent years to purchase power from its neighbours Quebec and Michigan to supplement its power needs during peak consumption periods. Ontario’s basic domestic rate in 2010 was 11.17 cents per kWH; by contrast. Quebec’s was 6.81. In December 2013, the government projected a 42 percent hike by 2018, and 68 percent by 2033. Industrial rates are projected to rise by 33 percent by 2018, and 55 percent in 2033.
An abundance of natural resources, excellent transportation links to the American heartland and the inland Great Lakes making ocean access possible via container ships, have all contributed to making manufacturing the principal industry of the city, found mainly in the Golden Horseshoe region, which is the largest industrialized area in Canada, the southern end of the region being part of the North American Rust Belt. Important products include motor vehicles, iron, steel, food, electrical appliances, machinery, chemicals, and paper.
Ontario surpassed Michigan in car production, assembling 2.696 million vehicles in 2004. Ontario has Chrysler plants in Windsor and Bramalea, two GM plants in Oshawa and one in Ingersoll, a Honda assembly plant in Alliston, Ford plants in Oakville and St. Thomas and Toyota assembly plants in Cambridge and Woodstock. However, as a result of steeply declining sales, in 2005, General Motors announced massive layoffs at production facilities across North America including two large GM plants in Oshawa and a drive train facility in St. Catharines resulting in 8,000 job losses in Ontario alone. In 2006, Ford Motor Company announced between 25,000 and 30,000 layoffs phased until 2012; Ontario was spared the worst, but job losses were announced for the St. Thomas facility and the Windsor Casting plant. However, these losses will be offset by Ford’s recent announcement of a hybrid vehicle facility slated to begin production in 2007 at its Oakville plant and GM’s re-introduction of the Camaro which will be produced in Oshawa. On December 4, 2008 Toyota announced the grand opening of the RAV4 plant in Woodstock, and Honda also has plans to add an engine plant at its facility in Alliston. Despite these new plants coming online, Ontario has not yet fully recovered following massive layoffs caused by the global recession; its unemployment rate was 7.3 percent in May 2013, compared to 8.7 percent in January 2010 and roughly 6 percent in 2007. In September 2013, the Ontario government committed CAD$70.9mn to the Ford plant in Oakville, while the federal government committed CAD$71.1mn, to secure 2,800 jobs. The province has lost 300,000 manufacturing jobs in the decade from 2003, and the Bank of Canada noted that “while the energy and mining industries have benefitted from these movements, the pressure on the manufacturing sector has intensified, since many firms in this sector were already dealing with growing competition from low-cost economies such as China.”
Ontario’s steel industry was once centred on Hamilton. Hamilton harbour, which can be seen as one drives the QEW Skyway bridge, is an industrial wasteland; US Steel-owned Stelco announced in fall 2013 that it would be shuttered in 2014, with the loss of 875 jobs. The move flummoxed a union representative, who seemed puzzled why a plant with capacity of 2 million tons per annum would be shut while Canada imported 8 million tons of steel the year before. Algoma Steel still maintains a plant in Sault Ste Marie.
Toronto, the capital of Ontario, is the centre of Canada’s financial services and banking industry. Neighbouring cities are home to product distribution, IT centres, and various manufacturing industries. Canada’s Federal Government is the largest single employer in the National Capital Region, which centres on the border cities of Ontario’s Ottawa and Quebec’s Gatineau.
The information technology sector is important, particularly in the Silicon Valley North section of Ottawa, as well as the Waterloo Region, where the world headquarters of Research in Motion (the developers of the BlackBerry smartphone) is located. BlackBerry once provided more than 19 percent of the local jobs and employed more than 13 percent of the entire local population before it supplied 9,500 layoffs in 2013. Open Text and ATS Automation Tooling Systems of Cambridge make their homes in the area too. Mike Lazaridis, one of the founders of RIM, founded in 1999 the Perimeter Institute, then in 2002 the Institute for Quantum Computing, then in 2013 Quantum Valley Investments, to plow a portion of the benefits of RIM back into research and development.
In 2014, the section of Highway 401 between Toronto and Waterloo became the world’s second-largest innovation corridor after California’s Silicon Valley, employing nearly 280,000 tech workers from around the world and containing over 60% of Canada’s high tech industry.
Hamilton is the largest steel manufacturing city in Canada followed closely by Sault Ste. Marie, and Sarnia is the centre for petrochemical production. Construction employed more than 6.5 percent of the province’s work force in June 2011.
Mining and the forest products industry, notably pulp and paper, are vital to the economy of Northern Ontario. There has been controversy over the Ring of Fire mineral deposit, and whether the province can afford to spend CAD$2.25bn on a road from the Trans-Canada Highway near Kenora to the deposit, currently valued at CAD$60bn.
Tourism contributes heavily to the economy of Central Ontario, peaking during the summer months owing to the abundance of fresh water recreation and wilderness found there in reasonable proximity to the major urban centres. At other times of the year, hunting, skiing and snowmobiling are popular. This region has some of the most vibrant fall colour displays anywhere on the continent, and tours directed at overseas visitors are organized to see them. Tourism also plays a key role in border cities with large casinos, among them Windsor, Cornwall, Sarnia and Niagara Falls, the latter of which attracts millions of US and other international visitors.
Ontario Provincial Nominee Program
- Foreign Worker
- Express Entry: Human Capital Priorities
- Express Entry: French Speaking Skilled Worker
- International Student With Job Offer
- International Master Graduate
- International PhD Graduate