The Canadarm2 berths the Orbital Sciences Corp. Cygnus commercial cargo craft to the Harmony node of the International Space Station on Jan. 12, 2014. Earth’s horizon and the blackness of space provide the backdrop for the scene.

The Canadarm2 berths the Orbital Sciences Corp. Cygnus commercial cargo craft to the Harmony node of the International Space Station on Jan. 12, 2014. Earth’s horizon and the blackness of space provide the backdrop for the scene.
Photo Credit: NASA

Canada’s tech sector – a Goliath with room to grow

With continued instability in the energy and commodity markets, Canada’s growing technology sector is going to be a major economic driver for the foreseeable future, according to new research from the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship (BII+E) at Ryerson University.

The value of Canada’s tech sector, which encompasses a wide range of industries from digital technologies, to aerospace and pharmaceuticals, has grown steadily, says report, entitled The State of Canada’s Tech Sector, 2016.

In 2015, the technology sector was directly responsible for $117 billion or 7.1 per cent of Canada’s economic output—greater than that of the finance and insurance industry, said Sean Mullin, executive director of the BII+E.

(click to listen the full interview with Sean Mullin)

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“Over the last ten years the tech sector has been a much more stable source of growth than say resource or mining, or oil extraction industries that are very much impacted by things like the price of oil, the value of Canada’s dollar and other things that are beyond our control,” Mullin said. “So for us it’s another reason why the tech sector is a very important sector to not only be aware of, but also to foster and grow because it’s much less dependent on external factors and it’s something that continues to contribute to our growth even in these times of volatility and uncertainty.”

 The Void-developed ’Rapture’, a head-mounted display with a wide field of vision, is pictured during the TED Conference on February 17, 2016 in Vancouver, Canada.
The Void-developed ’Rapture’, a head-mounted display with a wide field of vision, is pictured during the TED Conference on February 17, 2016 in Vancouver, Canada. © GLENN CHAPMAN

The tech sector was directly responsible for $117 billion or 7.1 per cent of Canada’s economic output, greater than that of the finance and insurance industry, said the report.

About 864,000 Canadians were employed in the tech sector, which made up 5.6 per cent of Canada’s total employment. On average, tech sector employees earn approximately $67,000 a year, compared to the national average of nearly $48,000.

It’s also a much better educated workforce. Over half of tech industry employees had a university education, compared to 29 per cent across Canada’s labour force.

And the tech sector was by far the largest private investor in research and development, said Mullin.

Still Canada lags behind other OECD countries, such as Sweden, Finland and the U.S., in terms of the tech sector’s share of gross domestic product, pointing to the fact that it still has place to grow, Mullin said.

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