The reason tech companies are lining up to hire in Canada

We have been reporting on the numerous US tech companies setting up permanent headquarters on this side of the border – including Netflix, Reddit, and DoorDash – due to an increase in Canadian demand during the pandemic, and an increase in supply of local tech talent.

The list of companies moving north of the border in recent years also includes heavyweights such as Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Twitter, and Pinterest; fuelling the demand for local professionals. Canadian tech giants such as Shopify and Wattpad are experiencing the same phenomenal growth and are now also competing for Canadian talent.

Uncertain politics and immigration policies in the US; higher wages and costs of living in tech hubs like San Francisco; as well as general market saturation may be driving companies to seek expansion to the Great White North. Meanwhile, Canada’s friendlier relations with countries globally (such as India and China) is also prompting US companies to set up satellite offices here, to hedge against potential trade wars and political feuds.

This growth will hopefully reverse the brain drain that is typical of Canada; particularly in the case of new graduates and young professionals who have been emigrating to US for many years. In fact, the opposite may now be true: as Canada sets ambitious targets to increase immigration, it is attracting talented professionals from countries such as the US, India, and Brazil.

Negative human and social sustainability issues

An unwanted consequence of this increase in demand for professionals is the potential harm to local businesses and startups, who are now competing for the same talent pool, as reported by the Canadian Press. This will decrease long-term innovation unless government officials intervene, or big tech creates opportunities for strategic partnership.

And although this bodes well for a city like Toronto – ensuring its position amongst the world’s top tech hubs – foreign investment continues to drive house prices up and makes affordability a key social issue for local residents and politicians to tackle.

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Toronto’s cute pink delivery robots
A group of cute, non-threatening robots created by local startup Tiny Mile help deliver food around Toronto

Toronto’s cute pink delivery robots

Now Magazine; Toronto’s liberal arts and culture magazine occasionally publishes interesting articles with a focus on technology and Toronto’s culture.

Editor Richard Trapunski takes a behind-the-scenes look at the popular delivery robots that seem to be getting a lot of attention in Toronto and on social media. He talks about the excitement people feel around seeing the non-threatening robots for the first time, and how they’ve became popular during the pandemic. The article attempts to answer a pressing social question; are these innocuous looking robots are a first attempt at the automation of food delivery and will they replace gig workers in the near future?

Uber Eats, Door Dash, Skip the Dishes and similar delivery apps have increased in popularity during the COVID-19 lockdown, and rely exclusively on human delivery at the moment. Does the CEO behind the startup believe in replacing humans with robots?

Some interesting facts we learned from the post are:

  1. The robots are named Geoffery and are owned and operated by a startup called Tiny Mile.
  2. The robots are intentionally made to look cute.
  3. The business and concept were developed in 2019, just before the pandemic.
  4. The robots themselves are not autonomous, instead they are operated and controlled by humans.

NOW MAGAZINE Who’s behind Toronto’s cute pink delivery robots? by Richard Trapunski.

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Big tech receive mixed reviews during COVID19 crisis

GLOBAL – Amid the COVID 19 induced shutdowns and recession, certain tech companies have ramped up hiring. Companies such as Amazon and Shopify are not only posting to fill multiple positions, they are also increasing pay rates for current employees. Driven partly by an increase in demand for essential supplies, and partly as a gesture of goodwill – this news has had a positive reaction globally.

However, as workers face a greater threat while performing services – such as delivery or inventory management in warehouses – some argue the wage increases are not enough. Amazon and Instacart workers have protested over the last several days demanding better working conditions. All of this is casting a negative light on the treatment of front line workers.

To add to the scrutiny, Amazon fired a worker who organised a protest against working conditions. In their statement, Amazon claims that he defied orders to stay at home and social distance himself after coming in contact with an infected colleague.

New York state’s attorney general, Letitia James, called the action ‘immoral and inhumane’ and said her office was considering “all legal options” regarding Mr Smalls’ firing.

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Universities experiment with a no tuition, pay later model

Income Sharing Agreements are gaining the attention of higher education and Wall Street. One early success story is getting a boost from venture capital, Purdue University has begun experimenting with a program that charges no upfront tuition, but requires graduates to pay back a percentage of their income once they’re employed.

The concept is deceptively simple: Instead of charging students tuition — which often requires them to take out thousands of dollars in loans — students go to school for free and are required to pay back a percentage of their income after graduation, but only if they get a job with a good salary.

Full Article Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/08/business/dealbook/education-student-loans-lambda-schools.html

Photo Credit Michael Hickey/Getty Images

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BMO Financial Group publishes its 2018 ESG Report and Public Accountability Statement
2018 Environmental, Social and Governance Report and Public Accountability Statement

BMO Financial Group publishes its 2018 ESG Report and Public Accountability Statement

BMO Financial Group has published its 2018 Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Report.

The report can be downloaded here.

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Toronto’s Smart City bought to you by Google

Google’s sister company, Sidewalk Labs announced a public engagement plan last year aimed at transforming Toronto’s Quayside neighbourhood into an innovative, tech-centric and inclusive space. The project has since caused controversy over concerns of data and privacy issues, as well as a lack of public trust.

The controversy was highlighted when the Former Ontario privacy commissioner Ann Cavoukian resigned from her role as an Advisor to Sidewalk Labs in October 2018, at around the same time as the resignation of Saadia Muzaffar from her role on the Digital Strategy Advisory Panel.

The controversy has drawn in local politicians to the defense of the project, including Mayor John Tory and Ontario MP Adam Vaughn.

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