Montreal contributes greatly to the Quebec economy both through GDP and government tax revenue. However, in several important ways the city is falling behind other metropolitan areas of comparable size in North America.
A report released by the Institut du Québec — a joint venture between HEC Montreal and the Conference Board of Canada places the city last among 15 cities surveyed for productivity. When other broad measures of economic activity are included, Montreal is surpassed by U.S. urban areas including Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Charlotte, St. Louis and Minneapolis.
The report warns that one of the biggest shortcomings is the pool of available talent. Montreal ranks 13th among the 15 for its management of human capital and faces “serious challenges.”
The proportion of the population with a bachelor’s or graduate degree (29.6 per cent) is among the lowest and is 10 points below comparable cities such as Minneapolis or Denver. Despite a positive contribution from immigration, the number of immigrants integrating into the labour market is low. Even though the city draws many foreign students to its universities, it has trouble retaining them. Turning Montreal around ranks as one of the biggest policy challenges, facing political leaders.
However, Montreal’s quality of life score places it second among the 15, topped only by Toronto. The redistribution of wealth, the low crime rate and the relatively high use of public transit all help.
The Institut is steering clear of any policy recommendations, preferring instead to supply purely statistical information. Overall it is clear that Montreal must become a less regulated place to live and work in order to become a more economically competitive, international metropolis.
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