Foodora’s Couriers To Unionize in Ontario

Part time delivery employees at Foodora, online food delivery company, have decided to unionize. The Ontario Labour Relations Board said today that since Foodora part time employees are dependent contractors they can unionize.

Until today, Foodora employees were considered independent contractors, and had no legal right to unionize and did not have the same benefits as full time permanent employees.

Foodora workers were unhappy how Foodora has treated them due to lack of health and safety protection as well as poor compensation model.

The Board has carefully reviewed the evidence called by the parties using the factors historically considered by the Board from Algonquin Tavern, supra in the interpretation of the statutory definition of dependent contractor. The couriers are selected by Foodora and required to deliver food on the terms and conditions determined by Foodora in accordance with Foodora’s standards. In a very real sense, the couriers work for Foodora, and not themselves.

This is the Board’s first decision with respect to workers in what has been described by the parties and the media as “the gig economy”. However, the services performed by Foodora couriers are nothing new to the Board and in many ways are similar to the circumstances of the Board’s older cases. This is not the Board’s first case examining the relationship of couriers. The Board has been tasked with the same questions about dependent contractors in various sectors including transportation and construction. Such cases have always been fact based inquiries that require a balancing of factors. This case is no different in many respects.

Ontario Labour Relations Board

Foodora said that it is reviewing this decision in Ontario. They said they will see how it plays out when the union is formed and what to do about it after it is formed.

Just last November the Supreme Court of Canada heard the case about Uber and whether it should allow to classify its workers as contractors. Uber has asked the judge to stop the proceedings due to the arbitration clause – the federal judge has allowed it. However Province of Ontario decides to proceed without the arbitrator. Uber is trying to overturn the Ontario’s decision to make sure its workers are not classified as employees.

UPDATED: Canadian Privacy Agency to Investigate US Facial Recognition Firm

Update #1: The company in this story, Clearview AI, has just been hacked and more than 2,200 organizations spanning law enforcement to universities have their information accessed. Clearview has clients such as US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Department of Justice, the FBI, Macy’s, Best Buy. In Canada multiple police agencies have used them such as Ontario Provincial Police, Ottawa Police, RCPM, Durham Police, etc.


Canadian privacy agency has launched an investigation into NY-based Clearview AI firm to see if its facial recognition technology complies with Canadian privacy laws.

Clearview uses millions of images across the internet to screen for potential terrorists and criminals. Many law enforcement agencies in US and Canada , like Durham Regional Police in Ontario, have used or have tested the technology.

Critics in both US and Canada said that just pulling images from internet provides no consent , and can be used misused.

The indiscriminate scraping of the internet to collect images of people’s faces for law enforcement purposes has significant privacy implications for all Ontarians. We have made it clear in the past that my office should be consulted before this type of technology is used.

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Brian Beamish

Ontario privacy commissioner

Privacy regulators in every province in Canada have agreed to work together to develop guidance on usage of bio-metric data when it comes to facial recognition.

Some twitter users expressed their dissatisfaction with this facial recognition data used by the police.

https://twitter.com/deceasedcrepes/status/1229006065305407489

Police chief in Ontario said that even though they have used the technology to on trial basis , they will discontinue the use of it until further guidance.

The Durham Police Chief ordered that the use of such technology (facial recognition) be stopped immediately until the matter is reviewed and further direction is received from the privacy commissioner.

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Dave Selby

Police spokesperson, Durham Regional Police Service

CRTC To Regulate Tech Firms like Facebook and Google in Canada

Canadian government is set to introduce a new law, where it will give special powers to CRTC, Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications, to regular tech companies in Canada.

Government said that it will provide updates to the new legislation, to give more power to CRTC, which will include letting CRTC issue licences, fine companies that do not comply and force companies to provide commercially sensitive information.

It’s about the future of the entire industry. It’s not about any one particular streamer or studio. That’s why we encourage the government to have as many tools available as possible so that we have flexibility in a new-and-improved Broadcasting Act that can adapt to this fast-changing, dynamic market.

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Reynolds Mastin

President of the Canadian Media Producers Association

The current Broadcasting Act and the Telecommunications Act is outdated the way it is now, as it was written before the internet. Canadian government said that Canadians are afraid that their culture is being threatened by big tech giants like Netflix and Facebook.

Because firms like Facebook and Netflix are digital, they do not require license to operate in Canada, and do not have to play specific percentage of Canadian content to viewers.

letterkenny
This Canadian television sitcom comedy series showcases the antics of the residents of Letterkenny, a small rural community in Canada.

While it is nice to see Canadian government to play active role to ensure that Canadians across this beautiful land can login to stream their shows like Letterkenny and Tout le monde en parle, they have to be careful as well.

It is interesting to see new power to police by CRTC being announced shortly after Google’s announcement of creation of 5,000 new jobs in Canada.

The problem is if Canadian government provides unlimited powers to CRTC and CRTC starts imposing fines left and right, some tech firms might pull their products away from Canada.

This is exactly what happened with political ads few years ago. Canadian government changed the election laws when it comes to advertising. Facebook decided to comply while Google said that it will disallow any politic ads in Canada on its platform.

While Heritage Ministry is giving more powers to CRTC, the Finance Department is set to start requiring foreign tech companies in Canada to collect and remit federal sales taxes. This media tax is already being collected in both Quebec and Saskatchewan.

Liberal government is in its minority right now in the parliament, so it will need another party’s support to pass the laws above. The way it stands right now, both Bloc Quebecois and NDP , are willing to support the Liberals.

Software Developers’ Salaries in Toronto are Rising Fast

As reported by Wall Street Journal, salaries for software developers outside of Silicon Valley are rising fast. This is due to the fact that the companies are expending outside of Silicon Valley and bidding up the software developers’ salaries.

For example, average salaries in Silicon Valley for 2018 were around $220,000 Canadian dollars, increasing 6% from 2017.

While in Toronto skilled software developers were making on average around $110,000 Canadian dollars in 2018, increasing 7% from 2017.

It seems like salaries in Silicon Valley have risen so much that they have plateaued and are still increasing but at somewhat slower rate.

Companies have started expanding into cities like Toronto where salaries are almost half of what they have to pay for workers in Silicon Valley.

Twitter Inc. Chief Executive Jack Dorsey recently said that he thinks that hiring in Silicon Valley is no longer working and that Twitter needs to look outside the Silicon Valley to hire more technical staff.

Toronto has been growing at rapid speed when it comes to number of technical jobs available and salaries that come with them. Toronto has now many companies doing artificial intelligence, quantum computing and other specialty fields that command higher salaries.

The demand for IT is high but talent is very hard to find. For example there are over 350,000 unfilled positions in the US, according to IT trade group CompTIA.

On top of that, according to Dice, over 60% of all software engineers, are planned to move to a different city due to number of constraints.

Toronto’s Number of Tech Jobs DoubleS in 5 Years

A total of around 60,000 people were employed in the tech sector in the city of Toronto in 2019. That’s 16.6% increase from 2018. If you compare the tech jobs’ employment to 2014 for example, the IT sector in the City of Toronto has almost doubled.

Looking at the research, you can see that these companies choose to locate in Toronto because Toronto is a tech centre that offers a diversity of education and culture that builds successful organizations.

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John Tory

Mayor of Toronto

John Tory, Mayor of Toronto, has said most companies choose to pick downtown for their location but some expand and open offices in North York, Etobicoke, etc.

Tory said he was happy with the numbers but more must be done when it comes to access to opportunities in some neighborhoods in Toronto, as well as, improving transit around the city.

Google to Hire Up To 5,000 Employees in Canada

Google has announced last week that it will be adding three times more employees than they have now in Toronto, Montreal and Waterloo – Kitchener, Ontario.

Google hopes to get the hires in within the next few years. Each location will get a new office. Kitchener is expected to have the largest number of employees hired, as many as 3,000.

Google is following the lead of Amazon, Microsoft, and Shopify – all opening new offices and increasing staff in Canada. This can definitely help persuade some Canadian engineers not to move to USA for work and stay local. On the other hand, with unemployment rate as low as 1% in IT field, this may prevent some local tech companies and startups from hiring local IT talent as salaries might increase and available tech talent decrease.

The open web allows any size company or individual creator in Canada to become a global business and reach customers. Canada’s digital economy is now bigger than its forestry, mining and gas industries, and the transition to digital reflects incredible momentum for Canadian businesses leveraging data and online technologies.

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Ruth Porat

CFO, Google

Google is moving to Canada even though the Canadian government has promised to tax the revenue of advertising-driven digital giants such as Facebook and Google. However, one of Canadian newspapers, Globe and Mail, has investigated and found that the Trudeau government has sent some internal memos wanting to expand Google presence into Canada.

There will be many IT jobs to choose from such as software development, game development, sales leadership, AI research and Cloud expertise.

This new expansion from Microsoft, Shopify, Amazon, and now Google puts tremendous pressure on local tech companies in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Ottawa where demand for IT talent has skyrocketed in the last 5 years.

With such a rapid hiring, we can see tech salaries in cities like Montreal , Toronto and Waterloo to grow as the tech giants compete for talent.