In 2023, the Economic Development and Culture (EDC) division will inform Council on approaches to ensure all residents in the City benefit from economic and cultural development. This work aligns with the Building Back Stronger and the Toronto Office of Recovery and Rebuild reports, and will incorporate City Council direction and highlight financial considerations.

Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Toronto’s economic and cultural successes were inequitably distributed; the pandemic’s impact on local economies has further deepened those existing inequities. The City’s recovery efforts have focused on a distributive approach, particularly for neighbourhoods facing systemic inequities including lower-income and Indigenous, Black and equity-deserving residents.

Current Status

In 2021 and 2022, EDC provided more inclusive support to small businesses, entrepreneurs and cultural organizations. The Division launched a new Cultural Festivals Funding Program, updated the Business Incubation and Commercialization Grant Program, created the Awakenings and Dis/Mantle programs, and led the Toronto Main Street Recovery and Rebuild Initiative (MRRI) programs. In 2023, staff will share findings and recommendations on these initiatives to City Council.

Background & Context

Historically, Toronto has credited its economic successes and opportunities to its cultural vibrancy. However, this success has not been equitably distributed to Toronto’s lower-income and Indigenous, Black and/or equity-deserving residents. In order to support economic recovery and improved outcomes for these neighbourhoods, the City is adopting inclusive approaches to economic and cultural policy and program development as recommended by the Toronto Office of Recovery and Rebuild report.

These efforts align with the Council adopted EDC’s 2022-2023 strategic directions which include:

  1. Increase Toronto’s Global Competitiveness – Attracting and Supporting Businesses, Entrepreneurship and Sector Development
  2. Combat Economic Inequity – Developing and Implementing a Coordinated Approach to Inclusive Economic Development
  3. Grow and Promote Toronto’s Cultural Vibrancy – Enhancing Supports for Arts and Culture

Truth, Justice & Reconciliation

Strategic Action # 20 in the Reconciliation Action Plan 2022 – 2032 focuses on improving Indigenous economic development. EDC is supporting the development of the Indigenous Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (ICIE), which will provide Indigenous entrepreneurs with space, business programming, advisory services, mentorship supports, community event space and connections to business networks. In addition, EDC facilitated the delivery of Awakenings in collaboration with Toronto History Museums to showcase projects by Indigenous, Black and racialized artists and is working to develop Indigenous food sovereignty programs supporting Indigenous communities.

Equity, Diversity & Inclusion

Advancing inclusive economic and cultural development is aligned with the City’s Confronting Anti-Black Racism Action Plan and the Poverty Reduction Strategy. It is anticipated that, by addressing inclusive economic development and culture, equity-related barriers such as the ones below will be positively impacted for Indigenous, Black and equity-deserving communities:

  • Access to jobs and training;
  • Access to economic development opportunities;
  • Access to cultural opportunities; and
  • Access to City spaces.

It is also anticipated that they will lead to enhanced sense of belonging in all of Toronto’s diverse neighbourhoods.

Key Contact

Marilyn Nickel
Director, Program Support, 416-395-7375