Quebec a legitimate competitor for smart job talent

According to Bloomberg, Quebec is a “surprise leader in Canada’s race for smart global jobs.”

Reporters Sandrine Rastello and Frederic Tomesco wrote how a “mini-boom” has vaulted Quebec, long seen as Canada’s economic laggard, to the top of the country’s job-creation league.

They said the province is producing “smart jobs” at a high rate, the kind Canada’s policy makers want as they want as they country seeks a way out of resource revenue dependency.

“Montreal, epicenter of the job gains, is one major Canadian city without runaway home prices or exorbitant power rates. It’s Toronto without the hangups. Meanwhile the provincial government’s finances are improving, and the weakest exchange rate in more than a decade is helping companies win international orders,” reported Bloomberg.

“Quebec added 85,400 full-time jobs in 2016, more than the other nine provinces combined, and growth in its labor market accounted for 42 percent of the Canadian total. The unemployment rate hit a record low 6.2 percent in November, and held below the national average for a fourth straight month in December, something that’s unprecedented in data back to 1976.”


To support their arguments, the reporters used three Montreal-born web companies as examples of the province’s smart job growth. They included GSOFT, which earns 43 percent of its sales in the U.S., employs more than 200 and counts Walt Disney Co. and Tesla Motors Inc. as clients.

Ubisoft was the second example: Cedric Orvoine, vice president of human resources, told Bloomberg that Ubisoft now has 3,400 employees in Quebec City and Montreal after increasing its head count by 180 people since April. He plans to add 120 positions annually over the next two to three years.

Finally, Bloomberg referenced Breather, a company that rents office space for short periods of time. The company grew staff to 83 last year, more than quadrupling its customer-care team to 17.

“Policy makers are increasingly pinning their hopes on such companies as the country pivots away from natural resources,” wrote Bloomberg. “Information technology service exporters generate only 3.4 percent of Canada’s gross domestic product and about 1.5 percent of exports, but companies within that sub-sector are seeing strong, often triple-digit revenue growth.”

Moreover, Quebec debt returned 2.1 percent in 2016, the most among Canada’s 10 provinces, according to the piece.

The article made note of a long-standing dividing issue in Quebec – that political change has influenced people to leave the province in the past. This was particularly true in the 1970s “exodus” of english-speaking Quebecers to other Canadian provinces.

“Perhaps one silver lining is that people can still afford to buy a house there. Montreal benchmark home prices were C$312,700 in December, versus C$694,900 in Toronto and C$897,600 in Vancouver,” wrote Bloomberg.

There’s also the dollar effect, as Canada’s loonie has been down in the dumps for quite some time now. As of today, the loonie nets just US $0.75. But there’s a silver-lining here too, particularly for companies that do business with American clients (like the aforementioned GSOFT, Ubisoft and Breather).

“The weak Canadian dollar definitely helps when we do the bidding,” Altitude Aerospace Inc. president Nancy Venneman told Bloomberg. Altitude is located both in Montreal and southern France, and has many projects in Europe and in the U.S. Venneman recruited 26 people in 2016, bringing headcount in Montreal to about 80.

The outlook is improving, concluded Bloomberg.

Last month National Bank of Canada revised its forecast for 2016 economic growth in Quebec to 1.7 percent, from 1.5 percent.

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