Deputy Prime Minister tours Communitech as it works to help laid-off tech workers | CBC News


Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland was in Kitchener on Wednesday to address the state and future of the country’s tech sector with local stakeholders, as the industry faces widespread layoffs.

The visit comes a day after Vancouver-based social media company Hootsuite Inc. laid off 30 per cent of its staff. Last week, Vancouver-based Unbounce laid off about 20 per cent of its workforce and online retailer Article let go about 200 people. 

On July 26, Shopify slashed about 10 per cent of its staff  — around 1,000 workers.

Despite the latest waves of cutbacks, Freeland, who was at the Communitech headquarters on Wednesday, said she’s confident the industry will continue to grow.

“Canada’s technology workforce is growing faster than that of any hub in the United States … I want people who work in this sector to know our government takes great pride in that,” she said, addressing tech employees, executives and members of the media.

“I actually see Canada’s technology sector growing and getting stronger,” she added.

Freeland, who was joined by Bardish Chagger, Waterloo MP and Valeria Bradford, MP for Kitchener South-Hespeler, toured Communitech, answered questions from media and spoke with tech executives in the industry about challenges and opportunities in a private meeting.

Freeland toured the site and spoke with those in the tech industry. (Chris Mulligan/CBC News)

Helping laid-off employees

Chris Albinson, CEO of Communitech, said the tech hub recently reinstated its Help List project, which connects laid-off tech workers to start ups in the region and Canada. 

The initiative first started during the COVID-19 pandemic and picked back up following the recent wave of layoffs.

Albinson said there are currently 200 people on the Help List.

“We’re actively connecting them to companies that are that are hiring here today,” he said. “The country is actually really set up well … As of [Wednesday] morning, there’s a little over 14,000 open jobs across the tech companies that we work with.”

Albinson said he also expects the workforce to continue to grow.

“If you look at the companies that are making those announcements, they’re pretty much concentrated in either crypto or e-commerce. And I think those are the two areas that are getting hurt the most right now,” he said.

“Every time we’ve had a down cycle, we’ve always come out stronger. And I think that’ll be the case again.”



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