How a Toronto tech boom is keeping the local economy afloat amidst the pandemic

Amidst the financial crisis that the COVID pandemic has brought on Toronto, there’s still one constant source of reliable information.

The Greater Toronto Area’s technology sector keeps on thriving. The latest case in point is the delivery app DoorDash which is planning to start a 50-man team composed of engineers by the end of the year. It’s the first engineering office of the company outside of the US.

In an interview, Brent Seals, DoorDash general manager said, “We’re excited about the world-class talent that’s available in the Toronto area.” He added that their move will help them with their goal to provide the best experience for the company’s merchants and customers.

DoorDash is just one of the tech companies that are expanding in Toronto. Uber also announced its plan to double its Tech Hub workforce in the city. As for Google, they have plans to open three new sites in the country, including one at King Street East. Pinterest also joined the bandwagon, with plans to add 50 more workers and several engineers. Like DoorDash, it is Pinterest’s first engineering hub outside of the US.

Many companies are drawn to the city for a variety of reasons, but it is the skilled workforce that helps seal the deal.

“Toronto sets a high bar for developing diverse, world-class talent,” Uber spokesperson Laura Miller said. She also mentioned how establishing their tech hub in the city helps create more opportunities for skill development and diversity in the country’s tech ecosystem.

Google’s head for Canadian operations Sabrina Geremia also commented that the city’s existing network of technology companies is a big factor on why they are expanding their presence in the city. “Toronto has a world-class tech ecosystem, [and] is one of the most diverse cities in the world….”

Toronto’s technology sector was already booming before the pandemic. Statistics show that around 67,000 tech industry workers arrived in the city between 2015 and 2019.

The influx of tech workers to the city boosts its technology industry to over ten percent of the The Greater Toronto Area’s workforce according to Robert Kavcic, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets. He also pointed out that the tech sector helped keep the region’s economy afloat amidst the pandemic. Kavcic added that the tech industry is “one of the few areas where employment didn’t really dip all that much.”

Canada’s Democrats Criticise CRTC’s Decision to Raise Internet Prices

In today’s tech-reliant world, companies like SpaceX are looking to make internet access a global phenomenon. However, with regulatory bodies in control, the cost may be too high a price to pay for some ISPs. 

In support of small, independent providers of the service, Canada’s New Democratic Party has voiced concerns over the CRTC’s decision to increase wholesale internet prices. These are the costs paid by smaller firms to large telecom operators for different services that they further provide to their consumers. 

Amidst a pandemic, this decision caused panic. As a result, some providers expressed their concerns to alter existing expansion plans and prices to remain operational. 

This decision overrules the CRTC’s 2019-288 Telecom Order which regulated a lower wholesale internet price. Officials supported this regulation to further add to the aggregating Canadian economy and investments in local networks. 

NDP’s telecom representative, Brian Masse, stated that customers might have to face increased costs for the essential service as a consequence of this decision. Furthermore, the federal party encourages that both wholesale and consumer prices should be regulated. His tweet poll asking if people agreed with the CRTC’s decision resulted in an overwhelming 86.9% selecting “No.”

During a sitting in the House of Commons, parliament member and conservative critic Pierre Poilievre pointed out that perhaps allowing more competition would be a better approach. The CRTC’s reversal would lead to a significant limitation on consumer choices. 

Increases in local competition through reducing barriers to entry and increased regulation would be beneficial. Not only would consumers have more choices, but competition also leads to increased efficiency and quality of services. Another benefit is an increase in coverage areas. 

Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry Francoise-Phillipe Champagne disagreed with these claims, stating that the government was trying to encourage competition. 

Under Champagne, the Competition Bureau confirmed that they had received a complaint from TekSavvy Solutions Inc. A press release on the ISP’s website stated they were “seeking an investigation into a pattern of anti-competitive activities in wholesale and retail markets for Internet services.”

Independent ISP’s have also called for Ian Scott, the current chairman of the CRTC, to withdraw where there may be a conflict of interest or resign. 

Amazon Opens First Robotics Warehouse in Alberta

Amazon will be creating more than 1,000 jobs with their robotics warehouse in Edmonton .

The gigantic 600,000 square-foot fulfillment centre will be open in 2022 in Edmonton area and will help Amazon customers get their orders faster by shipping their orders from the local warehouse.

This will be a second warehouse in Alberta. The first one was open in Calgary a while ago.

Vibhore Arora, the regional operations director for Amazon, said:

Typically, the misnomer is if it is a robotics centre, you have to be a technical person with a technical background to be able to get a job there,” he said. “That is not the case. We focus heavily on training so anybody who is willing to get trained can actually get one of these operations jobs.

If you are a customer in Alberta and you are ordering something, which is in … one of the two fulfillment centres in Alberta, it will get to you quicker versus if you order an item that’s in Toronto or maybe it’s an (out of stock) situation in Alberta. This is the latest generation of our robotics technology at this new fulfillment centre. We will have millions of products in that building.”

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Vibhore Arora

regional operations director for Amazon

Premier of Alberta Jason Kenney said that the move by Amazon shows that they have the confidence in the province.

This is exciting news for Alberta. As we continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, high-tech investments like this will continue to get people back to work as we diversify and look towards the future.

Thank you to Amazon as well for the generosity you’ve shown to community groups in Parkland County with the donation of 200 robotics kits to support STEM learning.

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Jason Kenney

Premier of Alberta

Calgary Lures Global Tech Firm, Hiring 1,000 Tech Employees

Calgary scored yet another multinational firm to open its office in Calgary in the coming month.

Mphasis Limited, IT services company based in Bangalore, India, will be setting up Canadian headquarters in Calgary.

Mphasis is looking to hire for 1,000 jobs over the next 3 years.

We have made a bet on the ecosystem play. We made a bet on the fact that we’d find a lot of raw talent.

We think we can create up to 1,000 jobs in the next two to three years, mostly through local demand.

We are delighted that this collaboration will elevate Mphasis’ expansion of its operations in Canada, while promoting [Alberta’s] position as a global hub for next generation technology, including quantum computing.

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Nitin Rakesh

Mphasis CEO

Mphasis mainly services banks and insurance companies with their IT solutions and services.

Jobs will be created over the next 3 years and will include development, automation, machine learning, data science and artificial intelligence.

This is a great news for the City of Calgary that has been struggling to gain traction to get technology firms to open up there.

Another company, Infosys, announced 6 months ago, that they will be hiring 500 employees in Calgary as well.

Both companies cite relatively low cost of living and the high quality of life for the reason to move there.

The only downside is the lack of quantity of available IT talent in Calgary. Most high paying IT jobs are in Toronto – so after the oil bust a large number of IT professionals moved out East. Lack of quality IT jobs did not gain Calgary any new IT talent. So it will be interesting to see where these firms will recruit 1,500 IT talent over the next 3 years.

University of Calgary is tackling this problem head on by opening up new programs in IT to their students. The only way to build a great hub is to have available local talent.

“Post-secondaries are critical to unlocking Calgary as the tech centre of North America.

It’s all about not just getting companies here, but allowing companies to expand their business here, because you have the right talent available to them.

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Coun. Jeff Davison

Calgary Economic Development

In order for a good ecosystem to survive, you just need great talent and great companies to come together to get the momentum going.