Policy Papers

Ontario 360, housed at the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy, supports research and analysis on a wide range of public policy issues related to Ontario’s competitiveness and prosperity. Its policy papers set out rigorous analysis and concrete recommendations to inform and shape the Ontario government’s policy agenda.

March 21, 2024

Challenging Times: Looking Ahead to the 2024 Ontario Budget

The provincial economy and finances have weakened over the past year. The 2024 Ontario Budget represents an important opportunity for the Ontario government to demonstrate strong leadership amid troubling times. In this Ontario 360 policy brief, the former Chief Economist of Ontario offers policy advice as the budget that the Minister of Finance will deliver on March 26th is on the horizon, with concrete advise on housing, social assistance, climate change and post-secondary education.

March 19, 2024

Taking Productivity Seriously: The Case for an Ontario Productivity Commission

Productivity is a measure of how efficiently an economy can turn inputs like hours worked into outputs, commonly measured by GDP, and is the fundamental driver of income growth and living standards. The more an economy can produce for a given amount of input, the better the society will be materially. Unfortunately, Ontario has a longstanding productivity problem - experiencing a 2.2% decline in productivity in 2022. In this paper, policy analyst Taylor Jackson suggests paths forward to improve productivity.

January 17, 2024

Penny Wise but Pound Foolish? A Response to the Ontario Government’s Blue-Ribbon Panel Report

Ontario’s Blue-Ribbon Panel on Postsecondary Financial Sustainability provided thoughtful, utilitarian advice to the government for shoring up university and college finances in the near-term. But with postsecondary education in the midst of profound and longer-term changes, did this moment actually call for a more fundamental, radical and future-focused reassessment of higher education in Ontario? The paper offers some alternative priorities, and provocative proposals, for policymakers and postsecondary leaders to consider.

December 13, 2023

Employing Ontarians with Criminal Records: Policies to Correct Labour Market Misconceptions

More than one million Ontarians have a criminal record and within two years of release, more than one-third of inmates will return to a provincial institution having been convicted of another crime. Research has shown that employment is a key factor in helping someone involved in the criminal justice system desist from further crimes. However, people with criminal records face steep barriers in finding employment. This Catch-22 presents a serious public-policy challenge for governments to solve.

November 30, 2023

Public-Private Partnerships: Is a reassessment underway?

For 20 years, public-private partnerships have been the favoured model for delivering large scale infrastructure in Canada. To date, there are 291 active PPPs in the country, making Canada one of the leading users of PPPs globally. PPPs have always been contentious, fostering vigorous debate about the implications of greater private participation in public infrastructure compared to more traditional options. Advocates claim PPPs are an effective way of achieving value for money, while critics emphasize concerns about loss of control over key civic assets.

November 29, 2023

A Long-Term Fiscal Sustainability Analysis and Reporting Framework is Long Overdue in Alberta

The passage of Alberta’s new fiscal framework still places too much attention on achieving short-term targets, which can be variable and even arbitrary. Continuing to place virtually all the emphasis on short-term fiscal outlooks does a disservice to elected officials who need better information from the Alberta public service to shift thinking towards considering the longer-term consequences of policy decisions.

October 26, 2023

Ontario Budgeting: Darkening Clouds Raise Stakes for Fall Economic Statement

Normally, the fall economic statement in the second year of a government’s mandate would be low-key. These are not normal times. Political, financial, and economic challenges have combined to raise the stakes. Furthermore, unemployment and consumer price inflation have risen recently, indicating times are becoming more challenging for many Ontario households.

August 8, 2023

Critical Minerals: Making the Most of Ontario’s Big Opportunity

This paper sets out the geopolitical and domestic context for Ontario’s recent Critical Minerals Strategy including the huge economic and environmental opportunities. It also outlines the key challenges to greater progress in critical minerals and sets out eight concrete recommendations to make the most of Ontario’s big critical minerals opportunity.

July 19, 2023

Ontario Infrastructure: How to Make a Big Spend Go Further

The Ontario government has earmarked as much as $184 billion for infrastructure investments over the next decade. Yet in fulfilling this vision the government will need to pay more attention to the basic building blocks of infrastructure. Without a competitive construction environment that incentivizes higher productivity, Ontario is unlikely to get its building plans done.

August 4, 2022

ON360 Transition Briefings 2022 – New Mandate, New Concerns: How changing voter priorities may challenge an historic re-election victory

Ford and his Progressive Conservatives were initially elected to put right what many Ontarians believed had gone wrong after 15 years of Liberal Party rule. The issues of greatest importance to Ontarians today are not necessarily those on which the Ford government is seen to be most credible. Will they become the 21st Century Big Blue Machine or be remembered in history as the Ford Interregnum.

July 12, 2022

ON360 Transition Briefings 2022 – Homeward Bound: A Reshoring Strategy for Ontario

The supply chain disruptions precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic have led to renewed calls for industrial reshoring across advanced economies, and the Ontario government is no exception. What policies could the Ontario government deploy to strengthen capacities? And should the government's goal be to reshore, or pursue more resilient supply chains?

May 3, 2022

ON360 Transition Briefings 2022 – Ontario Needs a Broader and More Coordinated Approach to Innovation Policy

Higher levels of innovative activity drive growth in productivity. In particular, productivity growth is linked with higher pay and increased living standards for Ontarians. Yet productivity growth in Ontario has fallen steeply over recent decades, amidst a wider productivity slowdown across most advanced economies. There are three approaches that Ontario’s next government should take to boost the province’s innovative performance with these challenges in mind.

April 8, 2022

ON360 Transition Briefings 2022 – Investing in Housing First: an evidence-based intervention to end chronic homelessness in Ontario

Homelessness is the other end of Ontario’s housing crisis. Chronic homelessness results in substantial societal costs and puts pressure on multiple provincially funded services, including the health, justice, and social service sectors Drs. Ecker and Hwang propose policy changes that will provide immediate benefits by dramatically reducing chronic homelessness in communities across Ontario.

April 6, 2022

ON360 Transition Briefings 2022 – Recent trends and long-term challenges in Ontario’s labour market

COVID-19 has had a substantial, unequal, and sustained impact on the Ontario labour market. As the province rebuilds, it is important both for economic and equity reasons that those who suffered most during COVID-19 are brought back into the labour force and employment. The Province can leverage tools, such as immigration policy and re-skilling of displaced workers, to ensure a robust labour force for strong and sustainable growth.

March 9, 2022

Ontario 360 Transition Briefings 2022 – The Future Of Work

The effects of automation, the gig economy and job polarization are already being felt by the average Ontarian. To protect workers, now and in the future, Ontario needs to embrace these changes, while supporting workers during this time of unprecedented change.

February 15, 2022

Surge Capacity: How To Address Ontario’s Medical Backlog

The COVID-19 pandemic has produced a massive backlog of surgical procedures and diagnostic tests in Ontario, which many observers are describing as the “crisis behind the crisis." Surge Capacity examines options for alleviating this backlog.

October 21, 2021

How to Improve Ontario Energy Forecasting

This report examines ideas raised by a virtual roundtable of energy experts, providing a deeper analysis of how the Ontario government and the Independent Electricity System Operator make use of energy forecasting in their decision-making; and what insights can be learned from other sectors, models and jurisdictions.

October 6, 2021

How Ontario’s Mid-Sized Cities Can Thrive: A Toolkit for Economic Development

This paper examines an “regeneration toolkit” for an economic development strategy regarding mid-sized cities, and applies it’s lessons to four Ontario cities that have experienced the economic and social consequences of de-industrialization in recent decades.

June 7, 2021

Made in Ontario: A Provincial Manufacturing Strategy

This paper explores why manufacturing matters greatly for Ontario and outlines steps on how the province should engage supportive policies and partnerships to ensure Ontario remains Canada's manufacturing hub.

May 13, 2021

How to End Streaming in Ontario Schools

In this paper, Tianna Follwell and Sam Andrey show how streaming has harmful and disadvantageous consequences for both individual students and education systems more broadly.

April 20, 2021

Transit-Oriented Communities: Why We Need Them And How We Can Make Them Happen

This paper, co-authored by University of Toronto professors Matti Siemiatycki and Drew Fagan, outlines the complex planning context regarding transit-oriented communities, including the Ontario government’s recently passed Transit-Oriented Communities Act.

January 26, 2021

A Post-Pandemic Growth Strategy For Canada

Sean Speer, Drew Fagan and Luka Glozic examine current economic planning efforts by Canadian policymakers, how they compare to other jurisdictions, and how best to plan for the post pandemic future.

December 17, 2020

A Lifelong Learning Strategy for Ontario

André Côté, Alexi White and Michael Cuenco explore the need for Ontario's Higher Education system to move beyond traditional programs and models.

October 23, 2020

Navigating Uncertainty in Ontario’s Budget

Sean Speer, Drew Fagan and Michael Cuenco outline best practices for budgeting in crisis, offering advice and insight for policymakers charged with planning the next Ontario budget, due in November.

May 13, 2020

A Long-Term Economic Recovery Agenda for Ontario

Ontario has been severely disrupted by the COVID-19 crisis, and with it has come a severe disruption of the province’s public policy priorities. The transition from economic stabilization to economic renewal will be highly challenging.

November 13, 2019

Opportunity Zones: An Opportunity for Ontario

Lorenzo Gonzalez and Sean Speer outline how economic growth and dynamism have not been evenly distributed across the province, especially when rural and urban areas are compared.

October 15, 2018

Economic Competitiveness

Paul Boothe and Alister Smith on improving Ontario's economic competitiveness

April 26, 2018

Post-Secondary Access

Jennifer Robson on Better Life Chances for Ontario's Children

April 18, 2018

Climate Policy

Trevor Tombe on an Evidence-Based Climate Policy for Ontario

April 11, 2018

Fiscal Policy

Livio Di Matteo on Restoring Ontario’s Long-term Fiscal Sustainability