Online retail giant Amazon has announced that it is to expand its Vancouver office, with 3,000 high-tech jobs in fields including e-commerce technology, cloud computing, and machine learning.
New hires will be working in a new tech hub to be located at the old Canada Post building at 349 West Georgia Street. General manager of web services Jesse Dougherty says the current building’s architectural features will be preserved, and the tower is expected to open in 2022.
Amazon already employs more than 6,000 people in Canada, including more than 1,000 researchers and engineers in Vancouver.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was on hand for the announcement at the future Amazon site on Monday morning, along with Alexandre Gagnon, Amazon’s vice-president for Canadian operations.
“Our vibrant cities, which are home to some of the best talent in the world, are poised to attract premier investment that creates the jobs of tomorrow. Canadians share your passion for invention and your commitment to excellence – and that’s why we are excited to see Amazon grow here in Vancouver,” said Trudeau.
Vancouver has become a focal point for tech expansions and start-ups over recent years, so much so that the city was recently cited by Forbes magazine as the location for ‘North America’s next big tech scene.’
In particular, US-based companies such as Amazon – whose headquarters are just over the border in Seattle, WA – appear to be wary of the US government’s shifting attitude to immigration policy, with Canada’s outlook seen to be more progressive and expansive, particularly when it comes to welcoming younger, educated tech workers.
Talk of new restrictions on the popular H-1B visa program south of the border, coupled with unease about where NAFTA renegotiations may end up, stands in contrast to Canadian initiatives that allow companies, large and small, to hire top talent at home and abroad.
In addition to a federal permanent immigration system, Express Entry, that favours the young and the educated, the BC provincial government has also established a Tech Pilot immigration category under the British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP), targeting graduates and workers in 32 specific tech-related occupations.
There is also a new Global Talent Stream, a federal pilot program that allows companies to hire eligible tech workers from abroad within a matter of days, rather than months. In addition, Vancouver remains a hugely popular destination for participants under the International Experience Canada (IEC) program, under which eligible youth may obtain an open work permit for up to two years, depending on their nationality.