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Tory releases jobs plan, wants medical school at York University

Mayoral hopeful John Tory says some of Toronto’s economic challenges can be addressed by drawing jobs and development to locations outside the downtown core.

Michelle Siu/The Globe and Mail

Toronto mayoral candidate John Tory unveiled his job-creation plan Thursday, vowing to create "economic corridors" in Etobicoke, Scarborough and North York – including a pledge to bring a medical school to York University.

Mr. Tory, who released his plan in a speech to the Economic Club of Canada Thursday afternoon, said that some of the city's most pressing challenges – transit and youth unemployment – can be partly addressed by attracting businesses and new jobs to areas outside the downtown core.

"As mayor, I will bring people to jobs. And where we can, I will bring jobs nearby the places where they live," he said.

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One of the areas Mr. Tory said he would focus on is around York University in northwestern Toronto, where he'd like to see a new medical school – despite acknowledging that the decision would not fall within his jurisdiction. He said that the school will have a "natural geographic connection" with the Humber River Regional Hospital once the new subway is built, and the area between would become a "high-tech magnet" for new jobs and businesses.

"As mayor, this is the kind of thing that excites me about this job. I'm going to roll up my sleeves, and I'm going to work hard to get Queen's Park – because it's their decision – to licence and fund a new medical school as part of York," he said. "That's why those relationships at Queen's Park are so important."

York University has, for years, been lobbying the Ontario government for a medical school – so far to no avail. York's president Mamdouh Shoukri has made it one of his top priorities, and in 2009, hired the University of Ottawa's former dean of medicine to help put together a $150-million proposal.

The other areas of focus in Mr. Tory's plan are Scarborough (along the area where the subway extension is currently planned), the Downsview area, and the east Don Lands.

But Mr. Tory's rival candidates were skeptical.

David Soknacki expressed doubt over Mr. Tory's ability to bring a medical school to York. "Make no mistake – I'll always support a strong education system as a citizen and as a mayor," Mr. Soknacki said in a statement. "But there are already two levels of government that have the lead on delivering education in this province."

And Olivia Chow took issue with what she described as a lack of detail on how Mr. Tory plans to attract businesses to these "economic corridors."

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"I didn't see a how," she said in an interview. "There have to be specific ideas. You can't just say 'I would like to see this happen.' "

Ms. Chow also responded to a passage from Mr. Tory's speech suggesting that she lacked the drive to attract businesses to the city.

"Like most people in this city, I don't have the upbringing of Mr. Tory," she said. "But representing our city is earned, not inherited."

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