Tag Archives: amazon

Toronto Places Second for Amazon HQ2, New Study Says

Amazon is getting ready to pick its second head office from the list of 20 cities they have shortlisted just few months ago.

Amazon officials have been visiting the 20 different cities and going over various stats for each city. If chosen, the city is bound to receive $5 billion dollars (that’s with a B) and 50,000 jobs. No one is quite sure who will get it though.

Toronto, the only Canadian city chosen, have been vying to be selected but unfortunately unlike its American counterparts is restricted from offering tax incentives.

But it is not gave over just yet, a new study published by Resonance, sees Toronto as #2 city on the list after New York. Their own analysis was based on cultural community fit, quality of life, housing affordability, recreational opportunities, business environments and the availability of talent.

However the report warned that even though Toronto is #2 on the list there are other factors that could be in play

“Canadian cities like Toronto, a place that scored very well in our analysis and has both the people and the land… are prohibited from offering the tax incentives that U.S. cities can.

Amazon’s announcement last week that they will be expanding their team in Vancouver to around 5,000 employees also makes it less likely that they would choose another Canadian city for HQ2.”

I guess we will have to wait and see.

Amazon to Bring 3,000 Jobs to Vancouver

Amazon announced that it will be adding 3,000 tech jobs in Vancouver. The jobs that Amazon will be trying to fill would be among e-commerce technology, cloud computing, and machine learning.

The new Amazon office will be located at Canada Post headquarters, at 349 West Georgia Street in Vancouver. Approximate opening date will be sometimes in 2022.

This new office will be a 3rd Amazon office in Vancouver in addition to TELUS Garden office opened in 2015 and Dunsmuir Street office to be opened in 2020.

Alexandre Gagnon, vice-president of Amazon Canada and Mexico said

“Amazon is excited to create 3,000 more highly skilled jobs in Vancouver. Vancouver is home to an incredibly talented and diverse workforce, and these thousands of new employees will invent on behalf of our customers worldwide.”

Amazon is employing over 6,000 employees in Canada, most of them are in tech. By 2022 it seems like Amazon will employing over 10,000 (or maybe even more if Toronto gets selected for HQ2).

BC Premier John Horgan was happy to hear the great news

Unlike Toronto, Vancouver was not selected for the 20 shortlist vying for Amazon HQ2. But nevertheless Vancouver is a very strategic city for Amazon as it is only few hours drive away from Seattle, Washington where Amazon HQ is located as well as short flight from Silicon Valley where most leading tech companies are located.


Microsoft has also been considering opening potential offices in Vancouver as proximity to the their offices in Redmond are almost the same as Amazon’s.

In case you missed it, Washington and British Columbia have recently announced plans for high speed train as well as seaplane that will get you around these cities in about an hour.

Amazon Raises Prime Membership by $2 a Month in the US, not in Canada

Hey fellow Canadians, no worries about recently announcement by Amazon, about their Prime Membership. Fee hike won’t affect members living north of the border.

Amazon is raising prices by $2 USD from $10.99 to $12.99 for their US subscribers starting immediately and will be updated on their next bill cycle. Student members fee will only increase by $1 from $5.49 to $6.49.

Unlike in the US, Amazon Canada charges annual fee vs monthly fees. Maybe this pricing scheme is due to strict pricing restriction in the province of Quebec when it comes to pricing memberships.

Price in Canada is $99 a year and includes free shipping, prime video / music, etc. Amazon says there is no plans to change that:

“We don’t have anything to share with regard to pricing change for Prime membership in Canada.”

Increase or not, people swear by their memberships no matter how much it costs, where else you can order an item at night that shows up on your doorsteps next morning – and you pay no shipping for that?

Amazon HQ2 officials Visit Toronto

We found out that Amazon officials came to Toronto few weeks ago and stayed for 2 days. They asked questions about health care and the tech sector.

Julia Sakas , Toronto Global representative said:

“They were very interested in hearing more about our tech sector and the benefits that come from our publicly funded health care and education systems. It was a very productive and positive visit, and an opportunity for us to promote the incredible access to highly-skilled, highly-educated, diverse, global talent available to them in the Toronto Region.”

Amazon officials said this is a working visit and they are visiting the other 20 cities as well. We want to remind you that neither Montreal nor Vancouver made the HQ2 list, and Toronto is the only international and Canadian city.

Toronto Mayor John Tory team said

“Mayor was glad to have the opportunity to tell the Toronto Region’s unique story in person  to the officials. He told them (Amazon team) there is no other city region in North America that can boast the same talent, the same quality of life, the same vibrancy and economic strength.”

Toronto is competing against cities like Atlanta, Austin, New York and Raleigh, N.C.  Toronto is also one of the few cities that has decided not to provide financial incentive for Amazon to come here. Free government health care, open immigration policies and vast tech talent is Toronto’s main selling point.

Vancouver to Seattle Highspeed Train Almost a Reality

Update: While High speed train is being studied by both provincial and state governments, a private company, Harbour Air Seaplanes, has launched a seaplane that gets you in Seattle in around 1 hour from Vancouver.

The tickets are around $400 but if speed is what you are after – this will be the best option for you right now.  Please note Nexus, Enhanced Drivers Licenses and passport cards are not accepted at this border crossing. Passport is Required.

Who needs Amazon HQ2 in Canada, when you can soon be able to  travel by high speed train reaching speeds of about 400 km/h from Vancouver to Seattle. This means you can live and enjoy your free health care in Vancouver Canada while working and making double Canadian salary at Amazon HQ in Seattle in under 1 hour. Right now same that same trip takes around 4.5 hours.

British Columbia Premier John Horgan spoke approvingly of the possible high speed train after it was announced that BC provincial government will spend additional $300k to study the plan while Washington state approved funding of up to US$1.2 million toward the new in-depth study.

John Horgan, BC premier said:

“It’s our view that this is an opportunity that we shouldn’t let pass by. It’s a physical link between our two jurisdictions and one that will get cars off of the road and will move people and goods in a fast and effective way.”

“The convenience of a one-hour trip between Vancouver and Seattle would create countless opportunities for people in both B.C. and Washington, from sports or concert getaways for families, to untold economic growth potential for businesses. Exploring the possibility of creating a clean, efficient high-speed corridor is particularly important as the Pacific Northwest grows in economic importance, and we look to reduce barriers to expansion across our borders.”

This train corridor service would cut travel times between Vancouver and Seattle to about 60 minutes, from three to five hours.

If train link is successful it can help create up to 200,000 jobs for B.C. and U.S. workers, and generate billions of dollars in economic benefits.


Not Available in Quebec or Quebec vs The World

Quebec prides itself on consumer protection so much so that the overzealous rules that they have in place make many companies decide to opt out of doing business in Quebec.

This is on top of French language regulations where if products are not translated into French you are not allowed to ship into Quebec (even if store ships from the US or rest of Canada).

Unfortunately, due to circumstances outside our control, Spotify is not currently able to offer Spotify Premium for Students in Quebec. We hope to be able to make it available in the future. Thanks for your understanding!

as well as

Premium for Students Download & listen offline On-demand music, no ads Skip any song, any time

This offer is unavailable in Quebec. I confirm that I am not a resident of the province of Quebec.

Protection du consommateur

It does not matter that companies collect local taxes and have apps in French and contribute millions of dollars. The Quebec “Protection du consommateur” consumer protection agency has rules that are very different from the rest of Canada and the US. These rules are costing companies millions of dollars if not followed.

Look at recent class action lawsuit filed by Stephanie J. Benabu domiciled in Quebec, she has brought action suit against AMAZON.COM LLC, AUDIBLE, INC., APPLE INC., LINKEDIN IRELAND, GOOGLE INC., SHOMI PARTNERSHIP, ROGERS MEDIA INC., SHAW MEDIA INC., SIRIUS XM CANADA INC., SPOTIFY AB, AFFINITAS GMBH., et MATCH.COM LLP, and many others.

geralt / Pixabay

The law that they are breaking? Unknown to many international companies that are doing business in the US and open up in Canada (with Quebec included) is the following law that exists in Quebec:

Every consumer, pursuant to the terms of Quebec’s Consumer Protection Act (“CPA”), who since July 4th, 2013 (the “Class Period”), was provided services or goods free of charge, for a fixed period (the “Fixed Period”), by any of the Defendants, and who, after the Fixed Period, was required to send a notice to any of the Defendants indicating that he/she does not wish to obtain the services or goods at the regular price (the “Regular Price”).

Basically that means that companies are not allowed to give you free trial and then automatically convert you into a paying customer – that is against the law in Quebec. Quebec wants the world to respect their authority or else.

Spotify users have recently received messages like this to advise them of this class action suit in Quebec:

Dear user:

We are contacting you in accordance with a Quebec Superior Court judgment dated November 1, 2017 (File No: 500-06-000798-161) which has authorised a class action on behalf of Québec residents against Spotify and other companies for the purpose of a settlement and ordered that potential class members be contacted by email.

According to our records, you lived within the Province of Québec between July 4, 2013 and November 1, 2017 and, during this period, signed up for a free or discounted trial on Spotify.com and maintained your membership after the trial period was over. If our records are correct, please carefully read the linked notice of the class action proceeding and a proposal for the Court to approve a settlement with Spotify.

If approved by the Court, the proposed settlement will provide impacted customers who cancelled their subscription in the 30 days following the end of their free trial with a credit for one free month of Spotify Premium. In exchange, Spotify will be released from any claims related to the free or discounted trial offer. Details of the settlement approval are in the notice accessible by clicking here.

Thank you for being a Spotify user.

That is why so many companies are choosing to avoid doing business in Quebec and just write:

“Not available in Quebec.”

punttim / Pixabay

Who are at disadvantage? Users like benlandry5 who wrote:

Hi, I can’t find my school McGill University in the SheerId listen of student universities. My university is 100% a university and is one of the original ones and most well known one in Canada. Can you fix this? Best Benjamin

Spotify response:

Unfortunately, due to local circumstances, Spotify is not currently offering the Student Discount in Quebec.

These local circumstances are millions of dollars in lawsuit money that is hanging over their heads in the province of Quebec.

Not a big deal? Get big companies to adapt to Quebec

Some users do not understand what the big deal is. Law is the law they say. They say multinational companies need to smarten up when they enter “special” Quebec market:
Same reason why Amazon Prime doesn’t offer a 30-day free trial. Rather, they do 13 months for the price of 12, which you can cancel before the 31st day and owe them nothing…. so it comes out the same. So, Spotify is simply not as smart as Amazon in how they setup their pomos for QC. They could say, instead of 3 months at 99¢… they’re doing 15 months for the price of 12 or something like that. They’re just not willing, or not smart enough, to do it for what they most likely consider a “small market”. – WHO Deal Fanatic RedFlagDeals

Why Amazon Picked Toronto as Their Top 20 HQ2 Finalist

Toronto, the only Canadian city , was picked as top 20 contender for Amazon second head quarters. John Tory, Toronto’s mayor, was very happy to hear the good news:

We are excited to have this opportunity and to be able to tell Toronto’s unique story. The Toronto Region has emerged as a global centre of innovation and technology because of our talented, diverse and inclusive workforce. There is no other city region in North America that can boast the same talent, the same quality of life, the same vibrancy and economic strength,” he said.

However at this point it does not matter if win or lose, Toronto has established itself as a major tech hub in North America that can take on Boston, Chicago and even New York City.

Toronto’s Advantages

Toronto is already booming with tech with major players have established their offices here. And unlike in Montreal, a city in the neighbouring province of Quebec, most of the Fortune 500, have hired not just handful of developers but thousands.

Free-Photos / Pixabay
  • General Motors is hiring 1,000 software engineers to build a smart car
  • Thomson Reuters is hiring 1,500 software engineers for their tech hub
  • Google, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft is hiring 1,000s of developers to get their AI / machine learning going
  • … and last but not least Google is building a high tech city of tomorrow downtown Toronto

Toronto and its residents have 3 big things going for them that no other city in North America can rival:

geralt / Pixabay
  1. Immigration policy is better than in the US. Recently introduced tech visas can be obtained in less than 2 weeks. There is also no limit on # of visas issued.
  2. Ontario has publicly funded universities. High rated universities such as University of Toronto and Waterloo produce thousands of smart engineers.
  3. High tech salaries while high for Canadian salary standards are very low when compared to US salaries most software engineers make in most of the cities in United States.

Toronto’s Disadvantages

paulbr75 / Pixabay

The only thing that Toronto might be lacking is high cost of real estate where many detached houses are sold for over $1m in Toronto and the suburbs such as Mississauga, Richmond Hill and Oakville. Toronto is still not as high as San Francisco or New York real estate and salaries earned in Toronto are higher when adjusted for cost of living.

Toronto Mayor John Tory discusses making the cut on Amazon’s list of potential cities to build its second headquarters.

Toronto Mayor John Tory: Amazon would be a great addition to Toronto economy from CNBC.