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A Tale of Three Cities: The Dynamics of Manufacturing in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver, 1976-1997


  • Vinodrai, Tara


Recent research has suggested that investment has shifted from urban areas to more rural locales. However, Canadian manufacturing remains predominantly an urban activity with more than 40% of manufacturing employment located in Canada's three largest urban regions. This paper examines the changing manufacturing landscapes of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver and outlines the shifts in industry mix, employment, and wage levels that have taken place over the period between 1976 and 1997. The analysis uses a longitudinal plant-level database based upon the Annual Survey of Manufactures conducted by Statistics Canada. Toronto and Vancouver both experience growth in the manufacturing sector, while Montreal experiences decline driven by differences in their industrial structure. Manufacturing activity has increased in a number of sectors of Toronto's economy, but has been particularly influenced by the growing automotive sector that ties the city to a large North American market. Montreal has experienced declines across most of the manufacturing industries. A heavy concentration of employment in labour intensive industries such as textiles and clothing, which have experienced severe declines across Canada, has amplified the level of decline in Montreal. However, Montreal has seen some growth in science-based industries. While Vancouver's manufacturing economy is much smaller in absolute terms, maintaining slightly less than a 5% share of national manufacturing employment, it has exhibited higher levels of long-run growth and restructuring than its eastern counterparts. A second focus of the paper is to explore the relationship between economic volatility and diversity in the manufacturing sector using a number of statistical measures. Toronto and Montreal have diverse industrial structures, although each has become slightly more concentrated over the study period. In Montreal, this is due to the increasing importance of other industries, as the clothing and textiles industry declines. In Toronto, this can be attributed to the increased importance of the food and transportation equipment industries. Vancouver has become increasingly diversified over the study period, reflecting the growth and dynamism of this sector. The mature manufacturing economies of Toronto and Montreal exhibit lower levels of volatility than their western counterpart.

Suggested Citation

  • Vinodrai, Tara, 2001. "A Tale of Three Cities: The Dynamics of Manufacturing in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver, 1976-1997," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 2001177e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
  • Handle: RePEc:stc:stcp3e:2001177e

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Lin, Zhengxi & Picot, Garnett & Yates, Janice, 1999. "The Entry and Exit Dynamics of Self-employment in Canada," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 1999134e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
    2. Corak, Miles, 2001. "Death and Divorce: The Long-Term Consequences of Parental Loss on Adolescents," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(3), pages 682-715, July.
    3. Baldwin, John & Lin, Zhengxi, 2002. "Impediments to advanced technology adoption for Canadian manufacturers," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 1-18, January.
    4. Miles Corak, 2001. "Are the Kids All Right? Intergenerational Mobility and Child Well-being in Canada," The Review of Economic Performance and Social Progress,in: Andrew Sharpe, Executive Director & France St-Hilaire, Vice-President , Research & Keith Banting, Di (ed.), The Review of Economic Performance and Social Progress 2001: The Longest Decade: Canada in the 1990s, volume 1 Centre for the Study of Living Standards;The Institutute for Research on Public Policy.
    5. Baldwin, John R. & Raffiquzzaman, Mohammed, 1995. "Restructuring in the Canadian Manufacturing Sector from 1970 to 1990: Industry and Regional Dimensions of Job Turnover," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 1995078e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
    6. Wolfson, Michael, 1995. "Socio-economic Statistics and Public Policy: A New Role for Microsimulation Modeling," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 1995081e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
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    Cited by:

    1. Baldwin, John R. & Brown, W. Mark & Vinodrai, Tara, 2001. "Dynamics of the Canadian Manufacturing Sector in Metropolitan and Rural Regions," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 2001169e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.

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    Business performance and ownership; Industries; Labour; Manufacturing; Regional and urban profiles;

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