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President Gertler addresses the Intercultural Dialogue Institute

Reza Moridi, Ontario Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities and Minister of Research and Innovation, and President Meric Gertler at the IDI dinner

Meric Gertler, president of the University of Toronto, gave the keynote address at the Intercultural Dialogue Institute (GTA)’s 10th annual Dialogue and Friendship Dinner, January 22, 2015.

Building on one of his top priorities as president, leveraging the university’s location in the Toronto urban region, Gertler emphasized the relationship between education and immigration, and the enormous benefit they have provided and continue to provide in driving the region’s prosperity.

“Immigration and education have contributed vastly to our sense of community, our social well-being, our individual and collective prosperity,” said Gertler. “I submit that this is the most important aspect of the partnership between universities, like the University of Toronto, and their host city-regions.”

Gertler noted the vast changes from generation to generation in the makeup of the Toronto region’s economy.

“According to the 1915 Census of Canada, 35 per cent of Toronto’s workforce … were employed in the manufacturing sector, and the clothing and textile industry led the way,” he said. “Clothing and textile workers outnumbered bankers 50 to 1 [and] for every accountant in Toronto in 1911, there were five musical instrument makers….

“Today the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area is the third largest technology hub in North America, comprising some 43 per cent of Canada’s tech sector investment. The city is the third largest financial services centre in North America. Toronto is home to North America’s third largest health sciences cluster, and it is among the top 10 life science centres in the world….

“The world has changed, of course, and the Toronto region has changed along with it. And the driving forces behind that change have been – and continue to be – immigration and education.”

Gertler argued that education and immigration have strengthened each other, while strengthening the region.

“Universities impart dynamism and resilience to the economies of urban regions, helping them to reinvent themselves over time,” said Gertler. “In the same way, diverse local populations bring vitality, energy, and ingenuity to local universities and colleges. This is most readily apparent in our students of course, but it is also evident in our faculty, staff, and alumni.”

See a video of the address below: