Methodology: How we did it

The 40 cities selected for the Canadian Business survey of Canada’s best places to do business include the country’s 25 largest municipalities, according to the 2006 census, plus 15 smaller centres in order to provide regional representation. We ranked these places on five factors reflecting socio-economic health:

Annual variable operating costs

Annual variable operating costs (salaries, benefits, utilities, property taxes, the amortization over 25 years of construction costs on a 50,000-square-foot mid-rise office space, and travel costs as of June 2008) of a typical 300-employee head office, as calculated by Boyd Co., a site relocation consultant based in New Jersey.

Cost of living

Cost of living using Toronto as a base 100 (calculated by Boyd).

Non-residential building permits

Three-year rolling average change in non-residential building permits from the first half of 2005 to the first half of 2008, as supplied by Statistics Canada.

Average unemployment rate

The variance between the three-year rolling average unemployment rate from June 2005 to June 2008, according to Statistics Canada, and the 5.5% rate considered ideal by executives, according to a poll by COMPAS Inc.

Crime rates

Crime rates based on 2007 census metropolitan area or census area data from Statistics Canada. Cape Breton, NS; Moncton, NB; Lévis, QC; and Oshawa, ON, rates use regional crime reporting data; Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton, Vaughan and Markham, ON, rates use local police department data.

The final ranking weights each factor based on a Canadian Business Online poll of 5,343 readers rating various site selection criteria. Operating costs were deemed the most important factor, followed by economic growth (measured by building permits), cost of living, crime and employment rate. The study does not address balance-sheet-related issues, such as income tax and government incentives, as they are specific to each company.