Canada-wide Overview

As of August 2021, employment in Canada was 156,000 below February 2020 levels. The national unemployment rate jumped from 5.7% in February 2020 to 13.7% in May 2020 but has since dropped to 7.1%. In June 2021, the number of total active businesses in Canada was slightly above pre-pandemic levels.

Change in Employment¹
(Feb 2020 – Aug 2021)

-156,200 (-0.8%)

Unemployment Rate¹
(August 2021)


Change in # of Active Businesses³
(Feb 2020 – Jun 2021)

4,014 (0.5%)

Innovation Corridor Overview

Since the significant shock caused by the pandemic, economic conditions in the Innovation Corridor have improved as Ontario’s economy has slowly re-opened. Still, despite participation in the labour market recovering to pre-pandemic rates, employment in the Corridor remains 1.7% below pre-COVID levels and the unemployment rate remains elevated at 8.8%. The drop in employment is largely associated with the significant decline of jobs in the transportation and warehousing, and accommodation and food services sectors. Both have declined by 12.2% and 16.9% respectively since August 2019.

Change in Employment²
(Feb 2020 – Aug 2021)

[3-month Moving Average]

-75,200 (-1.7%)

Unemployment Rate²
(August 2021)

[3-month Moving Average]


Change in # of Active Businesses³
(Feb 2020 – June 2021)

-6,695 (-3.0%)

Employment and Participation Rate


As restrictions were put into place to mitigate the pandemic’s impact, vehicle trips to all Business Districts in the Corridor declined sharply. The Goods Production and Distribution District (GPDD) has seen the least impact on overall trip volume throughout the pandemic. As of July 2021, vehicle trips to the GPDD are 21% lower than volumes during the same month in 2019. The Metropolitan Centre (MC) has seen the greatest decline in vehicle trips. Trip volumes to the MC have increased since May as the province has gradually relaxed restrictions, but as of July 2021 are still close to 40% below 2019 levels.

Consumer Spending, In-Person

In-store spending declined more than 50% across all Business Districts during the initial lockdown relative to spending in 2019. Consumer spending has bounced back since May 2021, but in most Districts is still below 2019 levels. The Goods Production and Distribution District (GPDD) has experienced the strongest recovery, and as of August is back to 2019 dollar volumes. In-person spending in the Metropolitan Centre (MC) continues to lag considerably with spending still 40% lower than in 2019.

Consumer Spending, E-commerce

Growth in e-commerce transactions within the Innovation Corridor is primarily driven by companies set up for business within the Goods Production and Distribution District (GPDD). E-commerce transactions for businesses based out of the GPDD grew more than 40% relative to 2019 levels at the beginning of 2021. Businesses set up in the Metropolitan Centre (MC) have seen consistently lower e-commerce related transactions since the start of the pandemic.

In-Person Consumer Spending, By Industry Group

Across most Business Districts, retail has been the best performing in-person spending category since the start of the pandemic. In the case of the Goods Production and Distribution District (GPDD) and Services and Mixed Use District (SMUD), it has been the driving force behind overall in-person spending. ‘Travel and entertainment’ has generally experienced the greatest decline in in-store purchases, particularly within the Metropolitan Centre (MC) and Regional Centres (RC).

Metropolitan Centre

Key Terms and Definitions

In June 2021, the Board produced a series of reports – one for each district – highlighting considerations for reopening and outlining strategies to help the region transition from crisis towards opportunities for recovery. To learn more about each district, and to read the full reports, click here.

About the Recovery Tracker - Enabling Evidence-Based Decisions

Developed by the Toronto Region Board of Trade’s data-driven Economic Blueprint Institute, this Recovery Tracker is a tool meant to provide businesses, decision-makers and other interested parties with timely analysis of our region’s economic recovery. Updated monthly, the Tracker will feature additional indicators over time to provide a more comprehensive picture of our economy and builds on the Board’s Business District framework to analyze the region.


  1. Note: Seasonally adjusted. Source: Statistics Canada, Table 14-10-0287-01

  2. Note: Three-month moving average, seasonally adjusted. Source: Statistics Canada, Table 14-10-0380-01

  3. Note: Seasonally adjusted, business sector industries, active businesses are those businesses that reported having one or more employees in a given month.
    Source: Statistics Canada, Table 33-10-0270-01