Report: Canada saw over 30,000 tech workers immigrate while losing nearly 1,700 to the US

Canadian flag over Parliament Hill
Canada largely benefits from US tech companies expanding to Canada, the report found.

Canada saw an intake of over 30,000 tech workers from abroad within the last year, a new report from the Technology Councils of North America (TECNA) and Canada’s Tech Network (CTN) found.

TECNA and CTN’s findings show that between April 2022 and March 2023, 32,115 new tech workers came to Canada, with the majority migrating from India and Nigeria. The two organizations said this move is largely due to a “more immigration-friendly national policy and labour cost advantage.”

Additionally, the report found that Canada “largely” benefits from investment of American tech companies as they expand or relocate to Canada.

Average compensation for Canadian tech roles earn about $75,000 less than equivalent jobs in the US.

“Given the radical shortfall in tech workers to fill available jobs in recent years, it’s imperative we understand migration movements to better serve our members, the innovation workforce, and the broader technology ecosystem,” said Yvonne Pilon, president and CEO of Windsor-based tech hub WEtech Alliance as well as vice chairman of TECNA’s board of directors.

Select cities throughout Canada saw significant immigration of tech workers within the last year. This includes Mississauga, which gained about 1,900 tech workers, as well as Montréal and Windsor.

Some companies also stood out as those who have hired the highest number of tech workers in Canada. The top five includes financial institutions such as TD, RBC, and Scotiabank, along with Amazon and Bell.

Shopify was among the top 25 tech employers, with just under 3,000 newcomers hired in tech roles. Others in the top 25 include Google, the Government of Canada, as well as the University of Toronto and the University of British Columbia.

Though the report claims the global net immigration of tech talent to Canada is “very strong,” it continues to lose talent to other countries like the United States. It found that Canada saw a net loss of 1,762 tech workers to eight countries, with 95 percent of those emigrations heading to the US.

One reason why Canadian tech workers would want to move to the US is the disparity in compensation.

The report says the current average annual compensation for Canadian tech occupations in this study is $100,400 CAD, with a salary range of $50,200-$167,700. Comparable jobs in the US could earn an average of $175,600 CAD, ranging from $72,600 to $313,000.

Canada has established several initiatives in recent years with the aim of attracting tech talent from overseas.

In 2015, the federal government established the Express Entry application management system, with the aim of delivering faster permanent-residence processing times for immigrant workers.

Several changes have been made to the Express Entry program since then with the aim of making it more accessible. Starting later this summer, the program will allow Canada to issue invitations to apply to prospective permanent residents with specific skills, training or language ability.

RELATED: Immigration Minister details strategy for attracting foreign tech talent, digital nomads

Another federal program meant to fill in-demand jobs in Canada is the Global Talent Stream, which launched in 2017. It delivers two-week processing times for work permit applications for certain “highly skilled” foreign workers, part of the country’s Global Skills Strategy.

Most recently, Minister of Immigration Sean Fraser made an appearance at this year’s Collision tech conference to announce what would be the country’s first tech talent strategy.

The tech talent strategy includes a number of new initiatives as well as updates to Canada’s existing foreign worker programs. Among them is a Digital Nomad strategy to promote Canada as a destination for people who can perform their job remotely from anywhere in the world.

Featured image courtesy Unsplash.

Charlize Alcaraz

Charlize Alcaraz

Charlize Alcaraz is a staff writer for BetaKit.

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