Report: Quebec leads Canada in tech sector employment


The proportion of people working within tech in Quebec is higher than any other province in Canada according to a new report on the state of the nation’s tech sector.

The report, entitled The State of Canada’s Tech Sector, 2016, said the gross domestic product (GDP) of Canada’s tech sector is wroth $117 billion, according to the report, representing 7.1 per cent of the nation’s total GDP. That’s higher than the value of finance and insurance in Canada.

In fact, many of the tools, techniques, and skills that we associate with “high tech” are in fact utilized across a much broader section of the economy. “Looking through this lens, Canada’s tech sector is much bigger than our current definitions are able to capture,” wrote authors and policy advisors Creig Lamb and Matthew Seddon.

It was written by the Brookfield Institute, “a new, independent and nonpartisan institute, housed within Ryerson University… dedicated to making Canada the best country in the world to be an innovator or an entrepreneur.”

Quebec’s tech industry as a proportion of provincial employment is higher than any other Canadian province at 6.4 per cent. In contrast, Saskatchewan’s is just 1.3 per cent and Manitoba’s 2.2 per cent.

Quebec tech

Canada’s tech sector represents $9.1 billion worth of GDP, 71,000 tech firms and 864,000 tech employees.

Aerospace manufacturing constituted a “considerable amount” of tech employment in the Atlantic provinces, Manitoba and Quebec. In Quebec, aerospace manufacturing was the third largest tech employer with nearly 27,000 jobs.

Quebec tech

The province was also among the top three in Canada in the proportion of the tech sector employed within information and communications technology, behind Ontario and British Columbia.

Quebec tech

Interestingly, Montreal led all Canadian cities in tech sector concentration.

Montreal’s location quotient came in at 1.7 per cent, higher than Toronto (1.4) and Vancouver (1.3). According to the report, a location quotient quantifies how concentrated an industry is in a region compared to a larger geographic area. A location quotient of 1 indicates that the concentration of tech employment in the region is the same as Canada’s concentration of tech employment. A location quotient exceeding 1 indicates tech employment is more concentrated than the rest of Canada.

Quebec tech

Moreover, a small majority of Montreal’s tech firms employ over 500 people. Montreal is the only city in Canada which has a higher proportion of tech firms employing over 500 people than any other size of companies.

Quebec tech

Quebec was also near to the top of some venture capital statistics from 2015, according to the report. In 2015, Canadian venture capital investment reached a record level. Compared to the previous year, the number of venture capital deals was up 24 percent to 536 deals with a value of nearly $2.3 billion. More than 38 percent of the deals were in Ontario, followed by 31 percent in Quebec and 16 percent in British Columbia.

The authors of the report sounded a cautionary note, too.

“New technologies drive employment and economic growth, transform traditional industries, and reinvent how we work and go about our daily lives. As the tech sector continues to grow and emerging technologies from around the world become more common, it is now more important than ever to ensure Canada maintains its growing, prominent tech economy.”

The report didn’t offer recommendations on how to maintain that economy. It gave specific recommendations to Statistics Canada on how to better measure Canada’s tech industry going forward.

In its conclusion, the authors wrote that “it is increasingly important to understand the economic significance of the country’s tech sector,” and that “it will be important to monitor the year-after-year activity of Canada’s tech sector to provide up-to-date information on this dynamic and economically significant sector.”

The report acknowledged that it received financial support from Toronto-based MaRS (an innovation-focused charity) and Kitchener-Waterloo-based Communitech (an innovation-focused non-profit). Both receive significant government funding every year.

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