These arresting figures come from a survey of employment and industry that York Region has carried out across all nine municipalities since 1998.

In March last year I broke a story (if that doesn’t sound too immodest) about Newmarket generating a paltry 100 new jobs between 2009 and 2014 compared with Aurora’s 5, 700. After a storm of controversy the figures were subsequently revised upwards giving Newmarket 570 new jobs and Aurora 5,920.

I only picked up on this last year because I was physically present in the Regional Council Chamber listening to the debate in the Committee of the Whole which is neither broadcast nor streamed.

So today I go along to the Regional HQ to learn about the Employment and Industry Report for 2015.

Local statistics

Paul Bottomley, the Manager of Policy, Research and Forecasting, goes to the lectern to give his presentation. All the key points are projected onto a giant screen. In his preamble he tells us the details for the individual nine municipalities do not form part of the presentation but council members have been given a handout and the information will be sent on to the constituent municipalities. Hmmmm.

This is information that is not available to the public. Why?

Mr Bottomley completes his tour d’horizon and takes one or two questions. Later, as he gets up to leave the Council Chamber, I follow him out.

Excuse me, Sir

Excuse me, I say, as I sidle up alongside him. I ask him why the information on individual municipalities has not been included in this year’s report. Was it because of the huge kerfuffle last year? He tells me they wanted to focus on what is happening Region-wide. Fair enough, I say. But can I see a copy?

Mr Bottomley agrees this is public information but, rather quaintly, it is not made available to the public. You’ve got to ask. He politely gives me his card and I email him with a request. I get the information an hour later. (Open York Region Municipal Profiles 2015 at the bottom of the page.) I am impressed.

The details of employment growth by municipality show Newmarket gained 570 jobs (or 1.5%) in 2014-15 and Aurora 201 jobs (or 1%).

The average annual employment growth over the period 2005-2014 was 0.2% in Newmarket and 3.2% in Aurora.

Business growth over the period 2005-2014 was 1.4% in Newmarket and 2.3% in Aurora.

I learn that in Newmarket

“employment in health care and social assistance sector was the primary driver of growth, adding close to 2,000 jobs to the Town’s employment base since 2005. This sector also experienced the most growth between 2014 and 2015.”

Across the Region employment is growing, outpacing national and provincial growth rates. York Region is the second biggest business hub in Ontario (after Toronto) with 48,910 businesses. Manufacturing is still the largest single sector in York Region. It has rebounded to 79,000 jobs in 2015, up from 73,000 jobs in 2010.

Working at home

I hear that work-at-home employment is on the rise. It is estimated there were 43,000 home based jobs in York Region in 2015, up from 29,400 in 2001. This trend is, I think, likely to accelerate given the changes in technology.

Curiously, there are only a few desultory questions from council members. The Chair wants to know about the impact of internet shopping. Georgina’s Margaret Quirk asks about employment in agriculture. And Newmarket’s regional councillor John Taylor wants to know if the Region is on track to deliver on the jobs/population ratio. He wants this information every year. Paul Bottomley tells him they are just a little shy of reaching the targets in the growth plan for jobs/population but not so much as you would notice the difference.

All fascinating stuff.

No need to keep the local statistics under wraps.

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