For over 175 years the Toronto Region Board of Trade has been the voice representing perspectives from the largest business community in Canada. The Board advocates for growth driven policies that supports competitiveness and sustainability.
Toronto Region Board Of Trade
President & CEO
Jan De Silva
As president and CEO of the Toronto Region Board of Trade, Jan De Silva is a recognized influential business leader in Canada. As the leader of the 175-year-old organization in our nation’s largest city, De Silva is the public face of a major part of Canada’s business community.
The Board is part networking organization, part think tank, part lobbying group, and even part recruiter. In her role, De Silva meets with government officials, foreign investors, and thousands of people representing businesses from all industries and sizes. De Silva actively listens to the TBoT members with the goal of supporting economic growth in Toronto.
Jan De Silva, president and CEO of the Toronto Region Board of Trade, sits on the Canadian Global Cities Council (CGCC) with eight other CEOs and President of Chambers from the large urban centres across Canada. She is the voice for the largest. In her role, she speaks with media across Ontario and nationally to represent the business community perspective on issues.
What is the Toronto Region Board Of Trade and what do they do?
The Toronto Region Board of Trade was founded in 1845 and now represents more than 13,500 member businesses in the Greater Toronto Area. The Board operates out of two locations. One in the Downtown Centre in the heart of the city's financial district, and another near Toronto Pearson International Airport. Across Toronto, the Board’s staff work to represent and unite Toronto's private sector through business services, facilities, events, policy development and analysis, and advocacy. The Toronto Board of Trade advocates for growth driven policy that supports competitiveness of private business in the GTA. All of their policy work and program development is executed with their key strategic pillars in mind: Trade, Transportation, and Talent. The Board is on a mission to make Toronto and surrounding areas the most sought after business region globally.
The Toronto Region Board of Trade Helped Found the Canadian Global Cities Council
In 2015, the CGCC was created to represent the large urban centres in Canada on a national level. Despite vast regional differences, there were noticeable similarities in the issues facing the business communities in each major municipality. To combat these challenges and become a more influential voice, the Chambers of Commerce and Boards of Trade of seven major cities joined together.
As one of the largest and most influential chambers of commerce in North America and the most populous city in Canada, the Toronto Board of Trade helped shape the CGCC. Not to mention, some of the CGCC first policy playbooks stem from research done by the Board.
Key Policies from the Toronto Region Board of Trade
As a member of the CGCC, the Board of Trade works on policy frameworks to guide their national activities and interprovincial relationships. By collaborating with the other major urban centres in Canada, economic policies are developed to not only align with Toronto’s own vision and strategic goals but to advocate at a national and interprovincial level.
In 2016, a study was conducted that made it clear that to propel the prosperity and competitiveness of Toronto, required strengthening of transportation networks. No organization had stepped up to the challenge. The need to get people, products and services moving faster was more than a regional issue. In response, advocacy efforts were made by collaborating with other organizations to support airport infrastructure to regional trains.
In 2018, the Toronto Board of Trade partnered with the Chambers from Calgary, Brampton, Edmonton, Halifax, Montreal, Vancouver and Winnipeg, as the CGCC, to Call for a National Urban Strategy to Advance Infrastructure Delivery.
Now, the focus is on speeding up economic recovery after Toronto experienced the toughest health measures in Canada.
Inter-provincial Trade Barriers
AGENDA FOR GROWTH
The Toronto Region's fight against trade barriers
For generations the Board has been advocating for free trade, movable talent, and better transportation networks. Recently, after the longest lockdown in Canada, the Board’s mission is focused on economic recovery efforts and response to COVID-19. Jan De Silva is active in her support for Toronto businesses of all sizes and offerings having successful reopenings (and staying open!) Jan De Silva advocates against red tape around doing business in other provinces. Redtape means less interprovincial trade which reduces international investment and increases higher prices for Canadian consumers.
As Canada’s economy reopens, she is among business leaders who say removing interprovincial trade barriers could help support business recovery and support economic growth. The Canadian Global Cities Council (CGCC) launched a social media video series in July of 2020 highlighting the barriers provinces face on the interprovincial trade of domestic products.
Jan De Silva joined key people in the business community who made videos on social media to advocate for reducing red tape in national trade. She claimed by posting the videos they were hoping to “capture the public’s attention” by illustrating the barriers faced by both Canadian and international businesses that result in less interprovincial trade and international investment as well as higher prices for Canadian consumers.”
Furthermore, she spoke to media across Ontario about how these barriers unfairly impact certain industries. Additional permits and different rules means getting services to products to Quebec or Manitoba can be costly or impossible. This unfairly affects SMEs. It’s often difficult if not impossible for tradespeople to work in different provinces which greatly impacts Torontonians.