Governments of Canada and Ontario, and the City of Toronto have partnered to rapidly connect the expertise in post-secondary institutions to the City’s research needs. Eight research projects to support COVID-19 recovery are moving forward as part of this partnership. Read the news release about this announcement.

The City of Toronto recognizes the significant value of the post-secondary educational institutions that call Toronto home.

Toronto is the largest centre of education, research and innovation in Canada. The breadth and depth of Toronto’s world-renowned educational institutions and a highly educated population are integral to attracting the best businesses and the brightest minds.

The City partners with local colleges and universities on projects with mutually beneficial outcomes recognizing that complex city challenges can benefit from collaborative and multidisciplinary solution development.

The CivicLabTO Academic Summit will feature the best minds from eight HEIs in Toronto, City staff and elected officials as they explore the pathways to a resilient, equitable city, the opportunities to address civic challenges by leveraging the expertise of Toronto’s post-secondary institutions, and highlight our collective successes. Prior to the summit, a series of informal discussions with various thought leaders will introduce key themes related to recovery and rebuild, setting the stage for the two-day CivicLabTO Academic Summit taking place November 23 and 24, 2021.

For more information and to view recordings of the discussions, visit

CivicLabTO Academic Summit News:

This is a pillar of CivicLabTO and the City’s commitment to collaboration with our eight higher education institution partners. Common Curriculum is a student learning opportunity focused on municipal policy, service delivery and inspiring the next generation of municipal leaders.

City staff and elected officials will speak to 3rd and 4th year students from Centennial College, George Brown College, Humber College, OCAD University, Ryerson University, Seneca College, University of Toronto and York University on a bi-weekly basis as part of their civics-focused curriculum.

The learning objectives include:

  • Deepening the students’ awareness of the challenges and opportunities facing the City of Toronto, particularly in the areas of post-COVID resiliency and recovery, including mobility, vulnerable communities, planning and adapting public spaces, arts, culture, and climate change and a green recovery
  • Raising awareness of how city hall functions and how City programs contribute to addressing challenges and opportunities
  • Fostering an understanding that city hall belongs to the residents of the city working democratically to pursue the common good

For insights into City of Toronto priorities and programs, the Common Curriculum sessions can be viewed below.

The City of Toronto, Toronto’s post-secondary educational institutions (PSIs), the Government of Ontario and the Government of Canada are partnering to rapidly connect the expertise in PSIs to the City’s research needs.

This new model allows the City to put forward research priorities to Toronto’s PSIs, who source multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional teams of faculty and student experts to help the City address important and urgent research needs. Funding is leveraged from provincial and federal research funding partners.

Learn more about this research partnership and its projects.

In 2017, the City of Toronto signed formal MOUs with the eight public colleges and universities in Toronto. The MOUs formally “acknowledge that by collaborating, they make the City a better place to live, learn, work and prosper.”

From the MOUs:

Working together, the City and the University/College agree to identify opportunities to leverage resources and talent to meet broadly defined shared goals including but not limited to the following:

  • To exchange knowledge, data and research findings.
  • To support policy development through shared expertise.
  • To develop collaborative opportunities for engagement in areas of mutual expertise and interest.
  • To improve opportunities and outcomes related to making Toronto a better place to live, work and prosper.
  • To raise the profile of both the City of Toronto and the colleges and universities in the city as leaders and collaborators.

Toronto is home to four publicly funded universities and four community colleges which additionally have numerous satellite campuses located outside of the city. In 2019, nearly 275,000 students were enrolled in these schools.

Revenue for post-secondary institutions alone is $4 billion and the education sector directly contributes $15.5 billion to the regional economy and $8.8 billion to the City itself.

Toronto’s education sector is one of the largest in terms of employment, employing 119,000 people and accounting for $7.2 billion in annual wages.

Toronto is a leader in academia at all levels, a progressive city with one of the most highly educated populations in the world. We host about one-quarter of international students in Canada with an annual rate of growth of more than 11 per cent in the last decade.

The City is a proud partner of multiple ongoing projects with the eight Toronto-based public post-secondary institutions as groups and individually.

Recent projects include:

  • improved accessibility for voters in the next election who aren’t able to make it to voting stations
  • curating of projects and exhibitions with the Toronto Archives
  • student placements in our courts, ice rinks and water treatment plants
  • multiple studies aimed at improving living conditions for our children and the overall health of our citizens
  • research support to the development of our Resilency strategy

Humber College’s Beyond COVID-19: Global Systems Gap Challenge, in partnership with the City of Toronto, brought together more than 550 students, faculty, and industry leaders from around the world to help examine what’s needed for systemic and sustainable change, as we build the city of Toronto back better, together. Interdisciplinary teams of mentors and students from 33 different countries collaborated virtually using a systems thinking mindset to identify possible paths to future solutions in pressing urban challenges in the key recovery and rebuild priorities of Arts & Culture, Economic Development, Health & Wellness and Social Innovation.

In Fall of 2021 Humber College was globally recognized by The PIEoneer Awards, out of London, U.K., with the “Progressive Education Delivery Award” for the Beyond COVID-19: Global Systems Gap Challenge, which ran in partnership with the City of Toronto from May 17 – June 25, 2021.

The highly coveted annual PIEoneer Awards celebrate innovation and achievement across the global education industry. The Progressive Education Delivery Award recognizes education programs that have innovated how they teach and who they reach, that are unique, successful in their approach to teaching, and focused on the student’s life journey in the 21st century. 430 entries from around the world were judged by a panel of 43 international education experts.