Building Strong Communities

Communities were top of mind in many of our conversations with Ontarians. The transformations caused by technology and globalization will not just affect jobs and the economy, we heard. They will also demand creative solutions to the social shifts in our communities. There was no one component, however, that emerged as an overwhelming contributor to a strong community. The strength, Ontarians made clear, comes from multiple pieces.

related content
Our Top Priorities
Read about how universities are helping Strengthen Our Communities, as well as our recommendations for ensuring all Ontarians benefit from living in vibrant communities.
What Ontarians Want
Effective local community planning that addresses key issues such as sustainability, health, housing and transit.
Support for arts and culture that helps create vibrant communities.
Meaningful partnerships between postsecondary, private and public sectors to improve communities.
Research, partnerships and entrepreneurial initiatives that drive innovation in key industries.
Support for regional economic development across the province.
I am excited to pursue a career doing what I love and to make an impact in my community.
- A student responding to our survey
Young Ontarians delivered a consistent message in our survey: they are eager to contribute to their communities, and considered the strength of a community important to choosing where to live in the future.
Ontario needs to support new ideas in science and technology, but definitely not forget the arts. Art helps us understand our place in this world, it helps us communicate, and it is invaluable to the human experience.
- A parent responding to our survey
Arts and culture was one point of emphasis, with Ontarians telling us about the central role it plays in helping us think critically and imaginatively about the most important issues in today’s world.
In a disruptive society, giving people a sense of place, a sense of purpose, a sense of wonder is going to be very important.
- Claire Hopkinson, Director and CEO of the Toronto Arts Council, at OCAD University’s Roundtable on Arts and Culture.
As the province faces increasingly rapid transformations across society and its economy, Ontarians argued that artists play important roles in imagining possible futures and contending critically with current realities.
[Ontario needs] programs to help people in rural areas. Small businesses are struggling, farmers have it fairly hard where I live, and schools are shutting down, lowering the prospects of a good future for the next generation.
- Survey respondent
The challenge of coping with today’s disruptions and transformations underlay Ontarians’ desire for stable, resilient communities. A strong community with affordable housing, vital services and robust partnerships can be essential to facing an uncertain future, we heard.
Local learning institutions such as universities, colleges, and innovation hubs are vital aspects of building a strong knowledge economy. However, on their own, they do not automatically create economic prosperity. For this to occur they must have strong ties to local industry and coordinate their offerings with the needs of businesses.
- Gregory M. Spencer, The Martin Prosperity Institute
What Ontarians signalled is that a community draws its strength not just from its parts, but also from its connections. Building rich and resilient communities that will ensure all Ontarians can prosper in tomorrow’s world requires developing links across various sectors.
Universities can ensure that they are engaged with communities, beyond what can be seen as solely academic. They can work with others to create real, meaningful solutions to real-life, everyday problems.
- A parent responding to our survey
We further heard that universities have a major role to play in any collaborative ecosystem. Ontarians repeatedly called for this kind of meaningful engagement between universities and their communities.
I live in Northern Ontario and often it is difficult to dream so big for many of us aspiring professionals. I have been able to experience unique and rewarding opportunities, and I hope that others in the North could receive a greater range of these kinds of opportunities.
- Survey respondent
Ontarians also emphasized, however, that rural, remote and Aboriginal communities can be at disadvantage when it comes to services and infrastructure, and that bridging these gaps has to be a priority for the province.
related content

Our Top Priorities

Read about how universities are helping Strengthen Our Communities, as well as our recommendations for ensuring all Ontarians benefit from living in vibrant communities.

next section

Issues & Priorities

We spent a year listening to what Ontarians had to say about their hopes and concerns, ideas and aspirations for the future. Through partnering with others, Ontario's universities are committed to creating a better Ontario.
read the report

In our report, you will find a comprehensive summary of what we heard from Ontarians and how Ontario's universities are working across all sectors to help students thrive, support our communities, and drive a growing, dynamic province.