Global tech workers flock to Canada: 32,000 newcomers in one year

Vimal Sivakumar
Published: August 28, 2023

Between April 2022 and March 2023, more than 32,000 global tech industry workers came to Canada for work according to a recent report from The Technology Councils of North America (TECNA) and Canada’s Tech Network (CTN).

What follows will now go deeper into the report from TECNA and CTN, which highlights some of the top destinations for tech workers across Canada and much more about the tech industry landscape in the country.

Understanding the report from TECNA and CTN

According to this report, Canada has attracted significant numbers of tech workers “largely” as a result of the country’s “immigration-friendly national policy and … labour cost advantage.”

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Aiming to gain insight into how globalization has affected the migration of tech occupations in North America, TECNA and CTN suggest that the rise of remote work has resulted in tech talents more frequently moving away from traditional tech hubs. This, says the report, is partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Specific to Canada, the report asserts that the global net in-migration of tech talent to Canada remains strong, primarily from India, Nigeria, and Brazil. However, another reason for the booming tech industry in this country is increased investments from U.S.-based tech companies into Canada. These investments have increased, to some extent, due to geographical proximity and a favourable disparity in compensation.

In 2022, Canada had more than 400,000 software developers in the country and the growth of the national tech workforce has not been limited to the bigger Canadian markets. In fact, smaller provinces like Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador have experienced the most rapid growth in their tech workforces, with a year-over-year growth of 16.3%.

Smaller rural Canadian cities, including Windsor, Ontario have also seen the highest growth in tech workers over the past year, reflecting a shift towards rural locations in part due to the rise of remote work across North America.

Note: Windsor has seen a 28% growth in tech workers over the past year

Finally, the joint report from TECNA and CTN reveals that the most sought-after tech skills in Canada include Customer Experience, Microsoft Azure, Analytical Skills, Amazon Web Services, React.js, Jira, Data Science, GitHub, Customer Satisfaction, and Customer Relationship Management. This information can be helpful for global tech talent looking to make a move to Canada in the future.

Where are Canada’s “most attractive” tech hubs?

The TECNA/CTN report also highlighted some of Canada’s most attractive cities for top tech talent, a ranking that included two cities in Ontario (ON) and one city in Quebec (QUE) within the top three.

In order, the report ranked Mississauga (ON) in first place followed by Montreal (QUE) and Waterloo (ON). The following will dive deeper into what makes each of these cities an attractive tech hub for newcomers.

Mississauga

A city that is home to nearly 1,000 companies in the information technology (IT) sector alone, Mississauga is part of North America’s second-largest information and communication technology (ICT) cluster, with over 300,000 tech professionals in the region. Home to the operations of such globally recognized IT companies as Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, HP, and Cognizant, tech innovation in this region is also strongly supported by strong local government initiatives such as the Mississauga Innovation and Technology Acceleration Program (MITAP).

MITAP is a technology sector program that “provides funding, mentorship, and resources to local start-ups” in the region.

From a growth perspective, Mississauga is also home to many growing tech firms, including SOTI, Guidewire Software, HCL Technologies, and Infosys. With a population growth projection that anticipates Mississauga will be home to 995,000 people by 2051 – a 33% growth from 2016 – this region of Canada promises to produce a continuous supply of tech talent going forward into the near and distant future.

Montreal

The city of Montreal is home to one of Canada’s most robust tech ecosystems, having grown around 31% from 2015 to 2020. Boasting the second largest tech market in Canada, this city is known as a major hub for artificial intelligence (AI) and IT, the chosen site of operations for global corporations including Google, Microsoft, Meta, Samsung, and Intel.

Montreal is also where more than 200 game development studios, including Ubisoft, Electronic Arts and WB Games are based in Canada.

Developmentally, this city is also considered to be a breeding ground for many successful tech firms, a list that includes companies such as CGI, Hopper, Element AI, Imagia and Nuvei. Furthermore, the city of Montreal hosts several notable start-up-focused events, which include Startupfest and MTL Connect: Montreal Digital Week. Academically, Quebec also provides strong academic support for the tech industry with nearly 18,000 students enrolled in tech programs across the city.

Waterloo

A dynamic tech hub that is home to over 1,570 tech-related businesses, including major industry staples such as BlackBerry and D2L, Waterloo ranks among the top 20 start-up ecosystems in the world.

Looking to the future, this city enjoys a strong academic influence from the University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University, and Conestoga College, which helps produce and develop a talented tech workforce locally. Waterloo also offers a high quality of life that allows theis city to keep attracting and retaining top talent which is part of why Waterloo has almost double the global industry average survival rate for ICT start-ups. Waterloo is also a city that attracts significant venture capital investment, speaking even more to its stature as a growing Canadian tech hub.

Canada’s efforts to attract tech workers from around the world

Understanding the TECNA/CTN report detailed above requires an understanding that Canada is also putting in significant effort to attract global tech talent.

This is being accomplished through the government’s new Tech Talent Strategy and category-based Express Entry draws, both of which will contribute to the growth of this sector across Canada by attracting greater numbers of skilled workers in tech occupations across the country.

Canada’s Tech Talent Strategy: This initiative from the Government of Canada aims to continue building on Canada’s progress towards becoming “a leader in global tech talent recruitment” by…

Click here to learn more about Canada’s Tech Talent Strategy.

Category-Based Express Entry Draws for Tech Occupations

On June 28, 2023, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) began conducting category-based Express Entry draws for federal immigration candidates who align with Canada’s top economic and demographic needs. For 2023, one of the six chosen categories is for immigration candidates with work experience in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) professions. This aligns with Canada’s noted desire to bring more global tech talent to this country.

As of the time of writing, IRCC has held one category-based draw for this group, on July 5th, 2023. During this draw, IRCC invited 500 candidates with a minimum Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score of 486 to apply for permanent residence in this country.

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