Techies fleeing to Canada in the age of Trump: report

President Donald Trump’s far-right base often complains that big tech companies such as Google, Facebook and Twitter are censoring conservative views and imposing a nefarious liberal ideology on America and the world.

But now it appears that the president’s moves on immigration may even the score a bit by shrinking tech giants’ talent pool.

“Numerous startups in the tech hub of Toronto say they have had steady, double-digit increases in job applications from the United States since last year’s presidential election,” online news site Axios reported Sept. 20.

“This is among the first concrete evidence that President Trump’s hard line on immigration may be impacting the global race to attract the best minds.”

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Trump’s attacks on immigration, via Twitter and through executive order, have led France, China and Canada to work energetically at poaching techies and scientists who might otherwise end up in the U.S., according to Axios.

“Reports from Toronto suggest a threat to the United States’ (status) as the preeminent magnet for the world’s brightest scientific talent,” Axios reported.

The worldwide boom in artificial intelligence — a major focus for many Silicon Valley tech companies — has a power center in Toronto, where a 20-story startup incubator is sited across the street from a major university and close to nine research and teaching hospitals.

“Some 250 medical, artificial intelligence, energy, fintech (financial technology) and other startups have quarters in the MaRS Discovery District, in addition to IBM, Autodesk, Merck and the Vector Institute, a new AI research center that’s received about $200 million in government and industry funding,” according to Axios.

That facility, along with highly regarded AI-focused tech companies, is pulling American techies to the city known to Canadians as “T.O.”

“I’ve been in tech for over 20 years in Canada and in Silicon Valley, too. I’ve never seen candidates from the U.S. apply for Canadian positions from places like Silicon Valley,” CEO Roy Pereira told Axios. “That’s never happened.”

A July survey by the startup accelerator found that 62 percent of fast-growing Canadian companies that responded said they’d seen “a notable recent increase” in job applications from people based in the U.S., Axios reported., which builds chat bots for the workplace, has seen almost a third of engineering-position applications coming from the U.S., compared to “almost none,” according to Axios. The company’s CEO Pereira said applicants indicated they had concerns over “the directionality that the country was taking,” and they often cited Trump’s travel ban as a reason for going prospecting for work in the Great White North.

A company called Figure 1 and known as “Instagram for doctors” saw U.S.-based applications double for senior roles and jump 50 percent for engineering jobs in January, compared to the same month in 2016, the site reported.

Three tech execs told Axios that Canadian expats in the U.S. had contacted them directly about the job market in Toronto, “indicating that many of Canada’s best and brightest are looking to come home.”

Montreal and Vancouver are also home to burgeoning tech sectors, with Vancouver firms reportedly offering unusually enticing benefits.

Photo: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau welcomed Canadian immigrants Jan. 28, 2017 in a sunny Twitter message written in stark contrast to Donald Trump’s order temporarily banning all refugees and many Muslims from traveling to the United States. (Rafael Zarauz/AFP/Getty Images)


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  • chispasco

    I’ve spoke to bright and knowledgeable Indian who prefer not to live in USA because he feared racism including being mistaken for a terrorist. Another fears violence in USA especially with regards to guns. As a Texan who grew up hunting, I’ve had to do a fair amount of defending of USA.