Toronto on the World Stage

Numerous studies appear each year, ranking global metropolitan regions on measures such as prosperity, economic strength, competitiveness, and liveability. Although researchers sometimes question the methodologies used to compare cities in such studies, the following studies outlined in this section illustrate what the world has been saying about Toronto over the past year.

Toronto is one of the safest cities in the world, and the world’s most liveable city:

  • globalOur city ranks eighth out of 20 across the globe on The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU)’s Safe Cities Index 2015, which assesses urban security in the digital age.
    • Toronto, along with New York which placed 10th, are the only North American cities to make the top 10. Montréal was the only other Canadian city on the list at 14th. San Francisco placed 12th, Chicago 16th, Los Angeles 17th, and Washington DC 19th.
    • The safest cities are in Asia: Tokyo, Singapore, and Osaka in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd respectively.
  • Cities were ranked based on their levels of digital security, health security, infrastructure safety, and personal safety.
    • Toronto ranks 11th in digital security, 21st in health security, 8th in infrastructure safety, and seventh in personal safety.[1]
  • The 2015 Safe Cities Index included an “index of indexes” compiled from six rankings by The Economist—Safe Cities, Liveability, Cost of Living, Business Environment, Democracy, and Global Food Security—to determine the most liveable cities in the world. Toronto came out on top of 50 global cities.
    • Montréal and Stockholm followed Toronto in 2nd and 3rd respectively.[2]


Toronto has the second-highest ranking among North American cities in a quality of living index companies use to help determine compensation for their employees working abroad:

  • The Quality of Living ranking by global business consultant Mercer evaluated 440 global cities and ranked 230 by looking at factors including political stability, crime statistics, public and medical services, consumer goods, and leisure.
  • globalAmong North American cities, Vancouver is the highest-ranking Canadian city at fifth, Toronto is second at 15th, and Ottawa is third at 17th. All outrank US cities including Boston (34th) and New York (44th).
  • Toronto, Calgary, Montréal, Ottawa, and Vancouver tie for 16th in the ranking of Personal Safety. No US cities even made the top 50.[3]


According to MoneySense magazine, Toronto is only the 43rd best place to live in Canada:

  • The Canada’s Best Places to Live 2016 ranking from MoneySense magazine nudged Toronto down from 35th place in 2015 and 32nd place in 2014.
  • The magazine’s rankings are based on a combination of factors such as tax, crime, and unemployment rates; household incomes; housing prices; healthcare access; healthy population growth; ease of walking, biking and using transit; weather; and strong arts and sports communities.
  • Ottawa was ranked #1 as the best place to live in the country, followed by the GTA’s Burlington and Oakville, at #2 and #3 respectively. [4]


Toronto was ranked fourth in the world in liveability in 2016, unchanged from 2015[5]:

  • globalAhead of Toronto, Vancouver was placed third, while Calgary was ranked just behind Toronto in fifth. Melbourne, Australia was ranked first.
  • Cities are assigned a score out of 100, based on their measurement against 30 factors that correspond to five categories: security, health care, education, infrastructure, and culture and the environment. Vancouver scored 97.3, Toronto 97.2, and Calgary 96.6.


Toronto is 10th in a global ranking of financial centres’ competitiveness:

  • The Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI) ranks a financial centre by taking into account five areas of competitiveness—business environment, financial sector development, infrastructure, human capital, and reputational and general factors—that encompass 102 factors including crime and GDP per employed person.[6]
  • globalIn the March 2016 edition of the index, Toronto ranked 10th in the world, down from eighth in September 2015 (the GFCI is updated each March and September).[7]
  • Toronto ranked fifth in North America and first in Canada, followed by Montréal in second and Vancouver in third.[8]


The Toronto Region dropped to fifth place (from third in 2014) among the dozen North American cities included in a ranking of 24 global metropolitan areas on the 2015 Toronto Region Board of Trade Scorecard on Prosperity:

  • globalThe scorecard assesses the strengths of the Region through the lenses of economy and labour attractiveness (socio-economic and environmental factors) against other global cities.
  • Calgary beat out Toronto again this year, placing third (down from second last year). Paris placed first again, Stockholm second, and Oslo fourth.
  • While Toronto scores high overall, its economy has traditionally been an underperformer.
    • Toronto fell two spots to 14th on the overall economy ranking with a “C” grade. Nonetheless, the Region is crucial to the economy of Ontario as well as to that of Canada. Toronto is home to half of Ontario’s labour force and businesses, and industry here accounts for nearly 50% of the province’s GDP and 20% of Canada’s. By comparison, New York produces about 9% of the US’ GDP.
    • Many North American cities populate this ranking’s top 10, with San Francisco in first with an A grade, Boston second (A), Seattle third (A), Dallas fourth (B), Calgary seventh (B), and New York in tenth (B).
  • In labour attractiveness, Toronto ranks third and was given a B grade. Paris and London take first and second respectively.
    • Toronto earned an ‘A’ in six of the 15 indicators, including measures of immigrant population, teachers per 1,000 school-aged children, and air quality.
    • Transportation continues to be Toronto’s area for improvement, showing a rare combination of both a low percentage of people who commute by means other than automobile (29%, ranking us 14th) and a long commuting time (66 minutes, good for 15th place).[9]


KPMG’s annual index of business costs across a dozen industries has ranked the Toronto Region the fourth most competitive place in Canada to do business in 2016:

  • In Canada, Montréal ranked highest at third. Vancouver placed behind Toronto in fifth place.[10]


Toronto is the sixth best city in the world for female entrepreneurs:

  • globalThe Dell Women Entrepreneur Cities Index (WE Cities) ranked 25 global cities in 2016 for their ability to attract and foster the growth of women-owned firms. New York placed first, while Toronto placed a respectable sixth.
  • The rating is based on 70 indicators (44 of which have a gender component) in five categories: capitol, technology, talent, culture, and markets.[11]


Toronto has been selected to join the 100 Resilient Cities Network:

  • In May 2016, Toronto was selected to be one of 100 Resilient Cities (100RC), one of 37 cities chosen from over 325 applications.[12]
  • The Foundation has identified that disruptions are becoming more and more prevalent for cities in the 21st century as a result of the collision of globalization, urbanization, and climate change. Disruptions can range from a cyber attack, a natural disaster, or economic or social upheaval to other acute stresses, such as poverty, endemic crime and violence, or failing infrastructure, that weaken a city over time. The 100RC initiative, launched in 2013 by The Rockefeller Foundation, provides funding for member cities to hire a Chief Resilience Officer to oversee efforts to become more resilient to physical, social, and economic shocks and stresses.
  • Member cities also receive expert support to develop a robust resilience strategy, access to partners offering technologies and services to implement it (e.g., Microsoft, Swiss Re, and the Nature Conservancy), and a network of global cities sharing knowledge.[13]


Why Resilient Cities? [14]

Toronto is the most diverse city in the world and one of the 10 most multicultural according to three different international rankings:

  • globalBBC Radio has declared Toronto the world’s most diverse city.[15]
  • Toronto is the highest-ranked city when it comes to diversity in the 2015 YouthfulCities Global Index.
    • Diversity was determined by languages to vote in, diversity of food, openness to LGBTQ* persons and immigrants, diversity of religion, and its ranking in a Global Gender Gap Index.[16]
  • Arts and travel website The Culture Trip, meanwhile, has included Toronto on a list of the 10 most multicultural cities in the world.[17]


Toronto ranks first for youth opportunities: * The Citi Foundation has placed Toronto first on its 2015 Youth Economic Strategy Index.

  • globalThe index ranks 35 global cities for their policies and conditions for youth (aged 13-25) over four major categories: government support and institutional framework for youth, employment and entrepreneurship, education and training, and human and social capital.[18]


Toronto is the 13th best student city in the world, according to the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) annual ranking of the world’s Best Student Cities:

  • globalThe study ranks the best urban destinations for international students based on five key categories: university rankings, affordability, desirability, student mix, and employer activity.
  • Toronto, Boston, and Vancouver tied for 13th place in the 2016 ranking. Montréal was the highest-ranking Canadian city, ranked seventh in the world.
  • In terms of desirability, Toronto ranks second behind Sydney and ahead of Vienna in third place. But on affordability, Toronto ranks 48th, behind Montréal (28th), Quebec City (35th), Ottawa (36th), and Vancouver (42nd).
  • On employer activity (based on a QS employer survey), Toronto ranks 30th in the world and second in Canada behind Montréal (27th) and ahead of Vancouver (31st).[19]


Of 52 places to go in 2016, Toronto is seventh, according to the New York Times:

  • globalIn January 2016 the Times’ annual Places to Go list placed Toronto seventh.
  • The list is developed with input from contributing writers (many based overseas) and aims to highlight a variety of regions and interests, taking into consideration any new or exciting events taking place.[20]


Toronto is home to six of the top 10 restaurants in Canada:

  • An expert panel of judges (including food critics, chefs, restaurateurs, and “elite diners”) has named six Toronto restaurants among the country’s 10 best in 2016, according to Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants magazine (launched in 2015).[21]


Toronto is also home to one of the “coolest streets” in North America:

  • globalCushman & Wakefield’s first Cool Streets of North America Report surveyed Canadian and US real estate professionals (commercial real estate brokers, property managers, appraisers, consultants, research and marketing professionals, and executives).
  • Respondents were asked to rate neighbourhoods in terms of their liveability and retail flavour, residential rents, and rank on a “Hip-o-meter” (which rated cities from “edgy/cool” to “gone mainstream”). Rankings also factored in demographics (from Statistics Canada and the US Census Bureau) and retail rents.
  • The neighbourhood surrounding the Queen Street West corridor between Bathurst and Gladstone was named one of North America’s coolest streets.
    • According to the report, this area has an average household income of $92,354, a millennial population of 75.9%, and independent boutiques, a restaurant and bar scene, boutique hotels, and Canada’s largest concentration of independent art galleries.
    • Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant and Main Street neighbourhood also made the list, with an average household income of $85,689 and a millennial population of 31.3%.[22]






[1] The Economist Intelligence Unit. (2015). The Safe Cities Index 2015. Last accessed September 22, 2015 from

[2] Toronto Sun. (March 2, 2015). Toronto is the world’s best city to live in, Economist study finds. Last accessed September 22, 2015 from; The Economist Intelligence Unit. (2015). The Safe Cities Index 2015. Last accessed September 22, 2015 from; Toronto one of the Best Cities To Live In, According To The Economist.; Huffington Post. (2015). Toronto And Montréal Are The Best Cities To Live In, According To The Economist. Last accessed September 22, 2015 froméal-best-cities_n_6563024.html.

[3] Mercer. Feb 23, 2016. WESTERN EUROPEAN CITIES TOP QUALITY OF LIVING RANKING ‒ MERCER. (Feb 23, 2016). Last accessed May 11, 2016 from

[4] Money Sense. Canada’s Best Places to Live 2016. Last accessed June 14, 2016 from

[5] Economist Intelligence Unit. (2016). Global Liveability Ranking 2016. Last accessed August 25, 2016 from

[6] Z/Yen Group Limited. (2016). GFCI 19 Introduction. Last accessed May 11, 2016 from

[7] Z/Yen Group Limited. (2016). GFCI 19 The Overall Rankings. Last accessed May 11, 2016 from

[8] Z/Yen Group Limited. (2016). GFCI 19 North America. Last accessed May 11, 2016 from

[9] Toronto Region Board of Trade. (2015). Toronto as a Global City: Scorecard on Prosperity—2015. Last accessed August 31, 2016 from

[10] KPMG. (2016). Competitive Alternatives, 2016 edition: KPMG’s guide to international business locations costs. Last accessed September 1, 2016 from

[11] Dell. (June 22, 2016). The Dell Women Entrepreneur Cities Index (WE Cities). Last accessed July 12, 2016 from

[12] Municipal Information Systems Association of Canada. (May 26, 2016). Toronto selected to join 100 Resilient Cities. News Release. Last accessed July 31, 2016 from

[13] 100 Resilient Cities, Overview. (2016). Rockefeller Foundation. Last accessed September 1, 2016 from

[14] 100 Resilient Cities, Overview. (2016). Rockefeller Foundation. Last accessed September 1, 2016 from

[15] Flack D. (2016, May 15). Toronto named most diverse city in the world. blogTo. Last accessed May 20, 2016 from

[16] Youthful Cities. (2015). Youthful Cities Global Index 2015 Executive Summary. Last accessed August 31, 2016 from

[17] CultureTrip. (July 282,016). The 10 Most Multicultural Cities in the World. Last accessed September 1, 2016 from

[18] CP24. Toronto Ranks First For Youth Opportunities but Youth Unemployement a Problem: Study (November 23, 2016). Last accessed on July 13, 2016 from:; Citi Foundation. Accelerating Pathways Youth Economic Strategy Index (November 2015). Last accessed on July 13, 2016 from:

[19] QS. (2016). QS Best Student Cities 2016. Last accessed July 31, 2016 from

[20] New York Times. (January 7, 2016). 52 Places to Go in 2016. Last accessed Aug 1, 2016 from

[21] Canada’s 100 Best. (2016). Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants. Last accessed August 31,2016 from

[22] Cushman and Wakefield. (2016). Cool Streets: Explore the hottest urban retail markets across North America. Last accessed August 31, 2016 from