Every aspect of life has changed with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic that hit hard back in March, 2020. Many non-essential businesses such as salons, restaurants, bars, theatres, public gatherings, and more were cancelled to keep everyone safe and ensure that we social distance from one another to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
Although the measures were necessary, the OECD has noted that as a result, Canada’s economic output is projected to shrink by 9.4% this year if a second wave of the coronavirus hits in the fall. If recovery is uninterrupted, that figure is 8%. What’s more, the unemployment rate will likely remain higher than normal coupled with a fiscal policy centered around printing more money to help stimulate the economy.
Canada's Tech Sector
The quarantine measures played a role in the slowdown of most sectors of the economy. On the bright side, as a result of more people staying at home, the tech sector has blossomed to fulfil many needs including gaming, conference calls and collaboration tools, and telemedicine. And tagging along is the growth of e-commerce.
A significant example of a Canadian-based tech player experiencing unprecedented growth is Shopify, who became the Canada's most valuable company—worth over $140 billion at last count, according to the Royal Bank of Canada.
Other tech companies seeing growth include Electronic Arts, noting that their profits have surged as a result of people staying inside.
The country’s tech sector alone accounted for 8% of all jobs in the Waterloo, Ont. region, which represents approximately 20,400 tech occupations putting the region ahead of Montreal in terms of tech concentration, and just behind Toronto, even though those markets are much larger.
Is A Career In Tech Worth Pursuing?
If you were wondering whether Canada’s tech industry was still worth getting involved in, the answer is yes as the industry has shown that it is resilient to change, especially during the pandemic.
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A whitepaper commissioned by the Innovation Economy Council (IEC), titled “The pandemic has accelerated the pace of transformation in the workplace,” is hopeful that the economy can look towards tech for its road to recovery.
The paper acknowledges that:
All sectors of our economy depend heavily on a vast supply chain of technology companies to meet needs in areas such as cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, data privacy, e-commerce and clean technology. So, when the health crisis subsides, established companies will need innovators to navigate an increasingly uncertain world.
One industry that has been tremendously transformed by the pandemic and the subsequent technological advances is healthcare.
Canada's Healthcare Sector
During quarantine, when many were too nervous to leave their homes, even if it was only for necessities, telemedicine emerged as a fairy godmother. According to a national poll conducted by Abacus Data between May 14-17, 2020, “47% of Canadians used virtual care during the pandemic, and of those, 91% said they were satisfied with the experience.”
In Toronto, a “TELUS Health online self-assessment tool called COVID19Toronto.ca has helped over 48,000 people evaluate their own condition and get personalized guidance on next steps, whether self-isolation, a virtual nurse’s appointment, or an emergency visit––all from the comfort and safety of their homes.”
According to the company’s blog post, “by remotely assessing and screening potential cases of COVID-19 based on the latest provincial guidelines, the solution has kept people who do not need urgent care safer at home while helping alleviate some of the strain on the city’s public health services.”
Looking back a year ago, telemedicine seemed to be too good to be true, with many still opting for in-person visits. The pandemic changed this way of thinking completely, and with the help of our smartphones, has brought us closer to seeing a doctor from the comfort of our own home.
It’s not just healthcare that has benefited from technology. The retail sector has gotten its taste of innovation as well.
Canada's Retail Sector
When COVID-19 first made its rounds on the news, we saw many people panic buy and stock up on essentials like toilet paper and hand sanitizer—these were out of stock very quickly, with many even placing orders on the next shipment.
In response to this, a new player rose up to the challenge of inventory shortages.
Daisy Intelligence uses artificial intelligence to help retailers forecast inventory needs, predict what products to promote and decide how to allocate shelf space. The company’s CEO and founder explains that the company’s technology “can help you react very quickly, and give insight for tomorrow that you couldn’t figure out on your own.”
Daisy Intelligence uses artificial intelligence to "sift through reams of granular real-time data, including transaction receipts generated at the point of sale and that computers are much better than humans at quickly sorting through this sort of data. They can spot patterns, such as what items are typically purchased together, and then make predictions about future sales.”
Canada's Digital Sector
Another significant tech story over the course of the pandemic is Toronto-based MindBeacon, a digital mental-health platform. Since the onset of the pandemic, the company has "tripled its workforce of therapists, which now number in the ‘low hundreds,’ and will double and triple that again," chairman and CEO Sam Duboc predicts.
Online mental health services are crucial, especially now. Although it’s mandatory to quarantine on a regular basis, apart from when traveling, we are still in the midst of a pandemic, with many people preferring physical distancing and isolation. It is crucial to have a robust digital platform allowing people to connect to professionals and discuss their mental health.
Apart from many of these local startups making waves in the tech industry, giants like Google tripled their workforce in Canada, adding new offices in Toronto, Montreal, and Waterloo. By attracting larger companies to expand their footprint here, Canada’s tech industry has shown that it holds promise for both local and nationwide companies looking to expand their footprint.
Although the future still seems uncertain, especially without a vaccine, Canada’s tech industry has shown that it is resilient, especially in times of change. There have been many advances over a short span of time and that will set the bar moving forward.
Who's Hiring in Canada?
Here is a list of 6 tech companies currently hiring in Canada:
On May 8, their careers page had 77 open jobs in specialties such as engineering and development, trust and security, UX design, data science and engineering, among others.
This biotechnology company has three open positions on its careers page, two computational scientist positions, and an intermediate software developer role.
Tealbook offers a massive database of suppliers for procurement teams to find the goods and services they need to do business. There are currently job openings on their webpage for senior developers and a product manager position at their Toronto headquarters, as well as a marketing manager position in the United States
This Montreal-based company offers virtual healthcare that can be paid for by health insurance or an employer. They are currently hiring in a number of fields in addition to tech such as finance, legal, HR, sales, and medical.
This company is hiring in health-related fields across Canada.
Opentext develops and sells enterprise information management software. They have a number of opportunities currently open on their careers page.
Canada’s tech industry also relies heavily on backend skills, especially when it comes to the following:
- C#/ .net
- C/ C++
- Agile (short- intense work rather than longer-slower work)
Ready for a career in the tech industry?