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Tech community issues open letter to the Province during COVID-19

Tech CEOs and innovation hubs call for swift action to maintain top talent and jobs threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic

TORONTO, March 26, 2020 – Today, more than 230 CEOs of leading tech enterprises and innovation hubs issued an open letter to Ontario Premier Doug Ford, Minister of Finance Rod Phillips and Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade Vic Fedeli on how the province can strengthen Ontario’s tech sector during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

Ontario’s tech and innovation sectors are important sources of well-paying jobs and engines of economic growth in our province. The GTA alone is the fastest-growing global tech market, recently surpassing Washington, Seattle and San Francisco combined – with a total of 241,000 tech industry jobs. Waterloo has the second-highest density of tech startups in North America,  and Hamilton tech employment has grown 40% over the past five years. The concentration of tech talent in Ottawa is among the highest in North America, with 9.9% of its workforce employed in this sector — just behind San Francisco.

This world-class growth has been supported by successive provincial governments stretching back to the creation of MaRS and Communitech during the Harris government.

“Ontario’s tech leaders believe the ecosystem needs our provincial government to continue taking immediate and longer-term measures to help companies weather this storm,” the letter says.

Recommended actions include:

  • Payroll subsidies, tax deferment, and other means to ensure companies retain top talent and jobs;
  • Increasing and rapidly deploying additional funding through established programs and investment vehicles;
  • Providing greater grant and program flexibility for companies with an existing funding relationship to the government.

“On behalf of more than 230 tech leaders, we are appealing for swift, targeted support that strengthens Ontario’s innovation ecosystem, and helps companies to survive this crisis and drive economic growth and job creation during recovery,” said Jason Flick, co-founder and CEO, You.i TV.

“To survive this crisis, we need more certainty,” said Mallorie Brodie, co-founder and CEO, Bridgit. “By maintaining cash flow, fast-tracking funding and stimulating procurement, startups like ours will be empowered to win in the long run against COVID-19 and lead in the recovery.”

On March 20, more than 300 Canadian tech CEOs appealed to the federal government on help for Canada’s innovation economy, outlined here. Ontario is well-positioned to influence both immediate and longer-term measures that will preserve as many jobs as possible. According to the open letter sent to Ministers Morneau, Bains and Ng, early- and growth-stage companies struggle to remain cash positive at the best of times, so it’s critical that measures be taken quickly and through existing structures, such as CRA, BDC and EDC.

Read the open letter to the province.

To endorse the letter, add your name here.

 

About Communitech
Communitech was founded in 1997 by a group of entrepreneurs committed to making Waterloo Region a global innovation leader. At the time it was crazy talk, but somehow this community managed to pull it off. Today, Communitech is a public-private innovation hub that supports a community of more than 1,400 companies — from startups to scale-ups to large global players.

About Invest Ottawa
Invest Ottawa is the lead economic development agency for knowledge-based industries in Canada’s Capital, facilitating economic growth and job creation in the City of Ottawa. Guided by a vision to help realize Ottawa’s full potential as a globally-recognized, innovative and future-ready city, and the best place to learn, work, live, and play. Invest Ottawa delivers venture development, global expansion and talent programs and services that catalyze the growth and success of entrepreneurs and firms.

About MaRS
MaRS is North America’s largest urban innovation hub. A registered non-profit, MaRS supports high-growth startups and scale-ups tackling key issues in health, cleantech, fintech and other sectors. In addition, MaRS convenes all members of the tech ecosystem to drive breakthrough discoveries, grow the economy and make an impact by solving real problems for real people — in Canada and around the world.

 

Media Contacts

Candace Beres
Communitech
candace.beres@communitech.ca

Sonya Shorey
Invest Ottawa and Bayview Yards
sshorey@investottawa.ca

Lara Torvi
MaRS
media@marsdd.com