According to the 2021 census, the Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) of Toronto has a total population of 6,202,225. However, the Greater Toronto Area, which is an economic area defined by the Government of Ontario, includes communities which are not included in the CMA as defined by Statistics Canada. Extrapolating the data for all 25 communities in the Greater Toronto Area from the 2021 Census, the total population for the economic region included 6,712,341 people.
The term "Greater Toronto" was first used in writing as early as the 1900s, although at the time, the term only referred to the old city of Toronto and its immediate townships and villages, which became Metropolitan Toronto in 1954 and became the current city of Toronto in 1998. The use of the term involving the four surrounding regional municipalities came into formal use in the mid-1980s, after it was used in a widely discussed report on municipal governance restructuring in the region and was later made official as a provincial planning area. However, it did not come into everyday usage until the mid- to late 1990s.
Some municipalities considered part of the GTA are not within the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) which is smaller than the land area and population of the GTA planning area. For example, Oshawa is the centre of its own CMA, yet deemed part of the Greater Toronto Area, while other municipalities, such as New Tecumseth in southern Simcoe County and Mono Township in Dufferin County are included in the Toronto CMA but not in the GTA. These different border configurations result in the GTA's population being higher than the Toronto CMA by nearly one-half million people, often leading to confusion amongst people when trying to sort out Toronto's urban population.
The GTA saw three American incursions during the War of 1812. The Town of York (present-day Toronto) was attacked by American forces at Battle of York, on April 27, 1813; and was subsequently occupied until May 8. The second incursion occurred several months later, in July 1813, with two landings in the GTA. On July 29, American forces landed at Burlington Beach (present-day Burlington) in an attempt to dislodge British forces at the adjacent Burlington Heights. However, finding the British forces too well-entrenched for any assault to be successful, the American naval force withdrew and proceeded east towards York. The American landings at York on July 31 went unopposed, with most of the soldiers garrisoned at York directed to defend Burlington Heights. The third incursion occurred a year later, when an American naval squadron arrived outside of York's harbour on August 6, 1814. The squadron dispatched USS Lady of the Lake to enter the harbour in order to gauge the town's defences, where it briefly exchanged cannon fire with Fort York before withdrawing to rejoin the American squadron outside the harbour. American forces did not attempt a landing during this incursion, although remained outside York's harbour for three days before departing.
Although the original boundaries of York County encompassed nearly all of the GTA, by 1851, its boundaries had been reduced to the present-day City of Toronto and York Region as depicted on the 1871 map.
This article needs to be updated. Please help update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (August 2018)
The idea towards a streamlined local government to control local infrastructure was made as early as 1907 by, William Findlay Maclean, a member of parliament and founder of The Toronto World, who called for the expansion of the government of the former City of Toronto in order to create a Greater Toronto. The idea for a single government municipality would not be seriously explored until the late 1940s when planners decided the city needed to incorporate its immediate suburbs. However, due to strong opposition from suburban politicians, a compromise was struck, which resulted in the creation of Metropolitan Toronto. In 1953, the portion of York County south of Steeles Avenue, a concession road which formed a common boundary between several townships across the width of the county, was severed from it and incorporated as the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto. With the concession of Metro Toronto, the offices of York County were moved from Toronto to Newmarket.
Originally, the membership in Metropolitan Toronto included the City of Toronto and five townships: East York, Etobicoke, North York, Scarborough and York; as well as seven villages and towns, which became amalgamated into their surrounding townships in 1967. The early Metro Toronto government debated over the annexation of surrounding townships of Markham, Pickering and Vaughan. Frederick Goldwin Gardiner, the first Metro Toronto Chairman, planned on the conversion of these townships into boroughs of the Metro Toronto government. In 1971, the remaining areas of York County was replaced by the Ontario government with the Regional Municipality of York. In 1974, Ontario and Durham Counties were reorganized to become the Regional Municipality of Durham; Pickering west of Rouge River was transferred to Scarborough at that time. Peel County became Peel Region in 1974 as well. In 1980, North York would be incorporated into a city, with York following suit in 1983 and Etobicoke and Scarborough in 1984, although still part of the Metropolitan Toronto municipal government.
Satellite image of Toronto during the mid-1980s
In 1992, the Ontario government passed legislation requiring Metropolitan Toronto to include the rest of the Greater Toronto Area into its planning. Despite this however, there was fear different parts of the municipal system were working against one another. Because of this, Bob Rae, then the Premier of Ontario, appointed Anne Golden to head a GTA task force to govern the region's quality of life, competitiveness and governance. During this time, the Metro Toronto government advocated to the task force the creation of a new GTA authority, which would be made up of 21 of the 30 existing municipalities in the GTA at the time. The proposal from Metro Toronto would have resulted in 15 new municipalities. The City of Mississauga argued consolidation should only take place in such a way the new municipalities would have a population between 400,000 and 800,000. The Town of Markham had similarly advocated municipal consolidation in York Region, although it was opposed to complete consolidation into a single municipality. Municipal consolidation faced stiff opposition however from smaller communities such as Ajax, Milton, and the borough of East York. The task force's recommendation to eliminate the Metro Toronto government, and consolidate its remaining municipalities into an enlarged City of Toronto was completed in 1997 and became official in 1998, under the Common Sense Revolution of the then premier, Mike Harris. However, the task force's recommendation to create a GTA-tier municipality was not taken up by the Harris government, fearing a GTA-wide municipality would recreate the inter-municipal competitiveness that was believed to have impaired the former Metro Toronto government.
Metrolinx, an agency of the Government of Ontario, was established to oversee public transit development across the Greater Toronto Area.
Vast parts of the region remain farmland and forests, making it one of the distinctive features of the geography of the GTA. Most of the urban areas in the GTA hold large urban forest. For the most part designated as parkland, the ravines are largely undeveloped. Rouge Park is also one of the largest nature parks within the core of a metropolitan area. Much of these areas also constitute the Toronto ravine system, which consists of deep and steep valleys, and a number of conservation areas in the region which are managed by Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. The Cheltenham Badlands in Caledon is an example of environmental degradation due to poor agricultural practice. The Scarborough Bluffs are part of the Glacial Lake Iroquois shoreline.
In 2005, the Government of Ontario also passed legislation to prevent urban development and sprawl on environmentally sensitive land in the Greater Toronto Area, known as the Greenbelt, many of these areas including protected sections of the Oak Ridges Moraine, Rouge Park and the Niagara Escarpment. Nevertheless, low-density suburban developments continue to be built, some on or near ecologically sensitive and protected areas. The provincial government attempted to address this issue through the "Places to Grow" legislation passed in 2005, which emphasizes higher-density growth in existing urban centres over the next 25 years (i.e., until 2030).
The climate of the Greater Toronto Area is classified as humid continental, according to the Köppen climate classification. Much of the Greater Toronto Area is under Köppen Dfb (warm summer subtype) zone, while Old Toronto (excluding the Toronto Islands) and some areas between there and Burlington to the south-west, are under the Köppen Dfa climate zone, the hot summer subtype. Precipitation averages 832 mm (32.8 in) annually, fairly distributed through the year but driest in later winter with higher average totals in the later summer. In winter, typical high temperatures will range from −5 to 3 °C (23 to 37 °F) and low temperatures from −12 to −5 °C (10 to 23 °F). Cold arctic outbreaks keep daytime highs below −10 °C (14 °F) for several days but this does not occur in every winter, while low temperatures sometimes drop below −18 °C (0 °F), accompanying wind chill makes this feel much colder. Annual snowfall averages between 80 and 150 cm (31 and 59 in) across the area. Mild and snow-free spells are also a feature of Toronto's winter, with temperatures surpassing 5 °C (41 °F) for several days, to occasionally above 15 °C (59 °F). Spring is short and often cool to mild, snow can sometimes fall well into April, rarely accumulating. The transition from spring into summer can be rapid. Summer is warm on average to hot and moderately humid with high temperatures usually between 24 to 31 °C (75 to 88 °F), while low temperatures average between 15 °C (59 °F) in the suburbs and 18 to 20 °C (64 to 68 °F) downtown and near the lake. Although fairly sunny, summers do feature occasional heavy, thundery showers. Heat wave conditions with temperatures between 32 and 35 °C (90 and 95 °F) are not uncommon but very rarely does the temperature exceed 38 °C (100 °F). Immediate lakeshore locations have generally lower average maximum temperatures but they can also experience hot conditions when offshore winds prevail. Normally in autumn it alternates between wet and dry with lengthy periods of mild and calm weather. Temperatures fall and windspeeds increase sharply in November and by December, cold and snowy weather are more common as the temperature average falls below 0 °C (32 °F).
This section needs to be updated. Please help update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (December 2015)
The Greater Toronto Area is a commercial, distribution, financial and economic centre, being the second largest financial centre in North America. The region generates about a fifth of Canada's GDP and is home to 40% of Canada's business headquarters. The economies of the municipalities in Greater Toronto are largely intertwined. The work force is made up of approximately 2.9 million people and more than 100,000 companies The Greater Toronto Area produces nearly 20% of the entire nation's GDP with $323 billion, and from 1992 to 2002, experienced an average GDP growth rate of 4.0% and a job creation rate of 2.4% (compared to the national average GDP growth rate of 3% and job creation rate of 1.6%). Greater Toronto has the largest regional economy in Canada, with its GDP surpassing the province of Quebec in 2015.
A worker at Oakville Assembly installs a battery on a Ford Flex. In 2010, the automotive industry accounted for roughly 10 percent of Greater Toronto's GDP.
In 2010, over 51% of the labour force in the Greater Toronto Area is employed in the service sector, with 19% in the manufacturing, 17% of the labour force employed in wholesale & retail trade, 8% of the labour force involved in transportation, communication and utilities, and 5% of the workforce is involved in construction. Despite the fact the service industry makes up only 51% of Greater Toronto's workforce, over 72% of the region's GDP is generated by service industries.
Markham also attracted the highest concentration of high tech companies in Canada, and because of it, has positioned itself as Canada's High-Tech Capital. The Greater Toronto Area is the second largest automotive centre in North America (after Detroit). Currently,[when?]General Motors, Ford and Chrysler run six assembly plants in the area, with Honda and Toyota having assembly plants just outside the GTA. General Motors, Ford, Honda, KIA, Mazda, Suzuki, Nissan, Volkswagen, Toyota, Hyundai, Aston Martin, Jaguar, Land Rover, Subaru, Volvo, BMW, and Mitsubishi have chosen the Greater Toronto Area for their Canadian headquarters.Magna International, the world's most diversified car supplier, also has its headquarters in Aurora. The automobile industry within the region accounts for roughly 10% of the region's GDP.
As with the rest of Canada, the economy of the Greater Toronto Area has been hit very hard by the COVID-19 pandemic in the early 2020s.
A farm in Caledon. There were 3,707 farms in the Greater Toronto Area according to the 2006 census.
While it was once the most dominant industry for residents in the Greater Toronto Area, agriculture now occupies a small percentage of the population, but still a large part of land in the surrounding four regional municipalities. Census data from 2006 has shown there are 3,707 census farms in the GTA, down 4.2% from 2001 and covering 274,363 ha (677,970 acres). Almost every community in the GTA is currently experiencing a decrease in the acreage of farmland, with Mississauga seeing the most significant. The only communities in the GTA that are experiencing a growth in the acreage of farmland are Aurora, Georgina, Newmarket, Oshawa, Richmond Hill and Scugog, with Markham experiencing neither any growth nor decline. Most of the GTA's farmland is in Durham Region, with 55% of their total land area being farmland. This is followed by York Region with 41% of their lands being farmland, Peel Region with 34%, and Halton Region with 41%. Toronto's remaining farmland is completely within Rouge Park in the Rouge Valley. The average size of the farm in the GTA (74 ha [183 acres]) is much lower than the farms in the rest of Ontario (averaging 94 ha [233 acres]). This has been attributed to the shift of farm types in the GTA from the traditional livestock and cash crop farms (requiring an extensive land base), towards more intensive enterprises including greenhouse, floriculture, nursery, vegetable, fruit, sheep and goats.
The most numerous farm types in the GTA are miscellaneous specialty farms (including horse and pony, sheep and lamb, and other livestock specialty), followed by cattle, grain and oilseed, dairy and field crop farms. Although the output of dairy production has dropped with farms from within the GTA, dairy has remained the most productive sector in the agricultural industry by annual gross farm receipts. Despite the decreased amount of farmland around the region, farm capital value increased from $5.2 billion in 1996 to $6.1 billion in 2001, making the average farm capital value in the GTA continued to be the highest in the province.
There are a number of public transportation operators within the Greater Toronto Area, providing services within their jurisdictions. While these operators are largely independent, provisions are being made to integrate them under Metrolinx, which manages transportation planning including public transport in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.GO Transit, which merged with Metrolinx during the late 2000s, is Ontario's only intra-regional public transit service, linking the communities in the GTA and the city of Hamilton, as well as the rest of the Greater Golden Horseshoe. Implementation of a 'Presto card' by Metrolinx has created a common means for all fare payments and allows for seamless connection between these and other transit operators.
Highway 401 serves as a major roadway in the Greater Toronto Area.
The GTA also consists of a number of King's Highways and supplemented by municipal expressways. One of the principal highways in the GTA, Highway 401, is also the longest in Ontario and is also one of the busiest highways in the world. Notably, a segment of the highway passing through the GTA is North America's busiest highway. The GTA is laced with a number of limited-access highways including the 400-series highways. These include:
The Greater Toronto Airport Authority has also placed a tentative proposal to develop a new airport in Pickering (which also extends over into Markham and Uxbridge). As the GTAA predicts Toronto Pearson would be unable to be the sole provider for the bulk of Toronto's commercial air traffic in the next 20 years from the report's publication in 2004 (i.e. in 2024), they believe a new airport in Pickering would address the need for a regional/reliever airport east of Toronto Pearson, as well as complement the airport in Hamilton, Ontario. The GTAA also stated the new airport would create more opportunities for economic development in the eastern region of the Greater Toronto Area.
To meet the increased demand for phone numbers, two overlay area codes were introduced in 2001. Area code 647 (supplementing the 416 area code) was introduced in March 2001 and area code 289 (supplementing the 905 area code) was introduced in July 2001. Some individuals within the 905 area code region may have to dial long distance to reach each other; although residents of Mississauga and Hamilton share the same area code (905), an individual from Toronto, for example, would have to dial "1" to reach Hamilton, but not to reach Mississauga. Ten-digit telephone dialling, including the area code for local calls, is required throughout the GTA. In March 2013, two additional area codes were introduced to the GTA: area code 437 in Toronto and area code 365 in the area served by 905 and 289.
This section needs to be updated. Please help update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (November 2019)
Federally, the Conservatives, Liberals, and the New Democrats (NDP) all hold several electoral districts in the GTA. The City of Toronto has often been supportive of the Liberal Party. Traditionally, Liberal support is strongest in Downtown Toronto, while Conservative support is stronger in the surrounding communities outside Toronto. The NDP also has a strong base within the GTA. The Greater Toronto Area has the ability to influence election results and determine the governing party in Canada, due in part to its large population and riding count.
From 1993 to 2011, a centre-right party failed to win a single seat in the former Metro Toronto. In the 2011 election, however, a surge in NDP support combined with a collapse in Liberal support allowed the Conservatives to win eight seats in Toronto itself, and another 24 in the suburbs. Toronto's political leanings now appeared to mirror those of surrounding communities that leaned toward the Conservatives.
The election of 2011 showed Liberal support, based on votes in the GTA, had collapsed from 43.7% to 30.6%, giving the Liberals only 14.9% of the local seats in the House of Commons. However, the support of the Conservatives and NDP increased accordingly, with the Conservatives increasing their vote share from 31.5% to 42.2% (and capturing 68.1% of the GTA seats) and the NDP increasing from 14.6% to 23.2% of the vote and 17% of the local Federal ridings.
In the 2015 federal election, the Liberals regained their dominance of the GTA after suffering devastating losses there four years earlier. They defeated a number of prominent incumbents from both the NDP and the Conservatives. The Liberals took all of Toronto itself. They also took back almost all of the suburban ridings they had lost in 2011. Both the NDP and the Conservatives suffered heavily as their support collapsed in the inner city and the suburbs respectively. Only a few Conservatives held onto their seats in the outer ring of the GTA, while the NDP failed to elect any MPs in this area. The 2019 and 2021 federal elections have similar results.
On the provincial level of government, the Ontario Progressive Conservatives, Ontario Liberals, and the Ontario New Democrats all hold electoral districts in the GTA. While the GTA provided a strong base of support for the Progressive Conservative government between 1995 and 2003, the Ontario Liberal Party achieved a major victory in the GTA during the 2003 election and has enjoyed strong support from the region ever since. In the 2011 election, the Liberals won 33 of the 44 available seats in the GTA, allowing Premier Dalton McGuinty to hold onto a minority government. The 2014 election under McGuinty's successor, Kathleen Wynne, was an even bigger electoral landslide for the Liberals, as they won 38 seats in the region. They even took a number of ridings in territory that had voted PC for decades, like Durham, Burlington, Newmarket-Aurora and Halton. The PCs hold no seats in Peel Region, and only one seat in each of the Halton, York, and Durham regions. While the NDP has been weak in the GTA since the 1995 election, they have seen some successes in Brampton and Durham Region, where they hold one seat each.
The Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario has not won a riding in the city of Toronto during a general election since 1999. On the other end of the spectrum, the NDP saw major losses in Toronto during the 2014 election, and only hold two seats in the city. This is no longer the case since the 2018 provincial election, as the Progressive Conservatives and the NDP made significant gains at the expense of the Liberals and this continues to hold true in the 2022 provincial election.
In 2011, 244 politicians govern the Greater Toronto Area below the provincial and federal levels, holding offices in cities, towns, and regional municipalities. Unusual for a large North American urban agglomeration, the GTA has very few agencies with powers that can cross boundaries.
Attempts to create an interregional organization have been made, such as the Province of Ontario's Office of the Greater Toronto Area (OGTA) in 1988 and the Greater Toronto Services Board (GTSB) in 1998, but have failed due to a lack of real authority in these agencies.
According to the latest census data from 2021 from Statistics Canada, the population of this area is 6,712,341. Population growth studies have projected the City of Toronto's population in 2031 to be 3,000,000 and the Greater Toronto Area's population to be 7,450,000, while the Ontario Ministry of Finance states it could reach 7.7 million by 2025. Statistics Canada identified in 2001 that four major urban regions in Canada exhibited a cluster pattern of concentrated population growth among which included the Greater Golden Horseshoe Census Region, which includes all of the Greater Toronto Area (which includes Oshawa), as well as other Southern Ontario cities including Niagara, Hamilton, Guelph, Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo and Barrie. Combined, the Greater Golden Horseshoe has a population of 9,765,188 in 2021, containing over 20% of Canada's population.
The Toronto CMA also has the largest proportions of foreign-born residents (46%) as a share of the total population out of all metropolitan areas in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The Toronto region is also unusually diverse over the composition of its ethnicities. The four largest foreign-born populations of Toronto only constitute 15% of the total foreign-born population. This is opposed to the four largest foreign-born populations of other metropolitan areas such as New York and London, where they make up 25% of their respective foreign-born populations.
Three of these GTA-based public school boards also manage institutions outside Greater Toronto, the two French first language school boards, based in Toronto, as well as the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board (DPCDSB). Conversely, English first language public schools in Clarington, a municipality within Durham Region, are managed by school boards based outside the GTA.
The Greater Toronto Area is also home to six publicly funded colleges that have campuses spread in and around the metropolitan area. The six publicly funded colleges based in the Greater Toronto include:
Another publicly funded college, Collège Boréal, also maintains a satellite campus in Toronto. However, Collège Boréal's main campus, and administration, is based outside the GTA, in Greater Sudbury. In addition to publicly funded colleges, there are also a number of private career colleges spread throughout the Greater Toronto Area.
^Maximum and minimum temperature data at The Annex was recorded by human observers from March 1840 to June 2003 under the station name "TORONTO". From July 2003 to present, climate data has been recorded by an automatic weather station under the name "TORONTO CITY".
^Ministry of Education, Ontario (2010). "About the Ministry". Government of Ontario. Queen's Printer for Ontario, 2010. Archived from the original on December 20, 2010. Retrieved December 14, 2010.
^Ministry of Training, Colleges; Universities, Ontario (2010). "Welcome to TCU". Government of Ontario. Queen's Printer for Ontario, 2010. Archived from the original on December 21, 2010. Retrieved December 14, 2010.
^Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities (January 1, 2010). "Getting to Know Ontario's Colleges". Find a College. Queen's Printer, Ontario. Archived from the original on February 26, 2010. Retrieved February 23, 2010.((cite web)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
^Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities (November 18, 2007). "Private Career Colleges (PCC)". Queen's Printer, Ontario. Archived from the original on February 24, 2010. Retrieved February 28, 2010.((cite web)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)