A new Amazon Fulfillment Centre--the second in Alberta--was scheduled to open in Nisku in the spring. It opened in August. The marketing giant currently has over 21,000 employees in Canada and has just announced it is expanding again. (Nathan Gross/CBC)

Business juggernaut Amazon continues to widen its presence in Canada

Amazon continues to expand its presence in Canada.

Earlier this month, the marketing giant announced it was opening two new fulfilment centres just east and west of Toronto next year, a move that it said would result in the hiring of 2,500 people.

On Monday, it announced plans to create 3,500 new corporate and tech jobs at its Canadian Tech Hubs in Vancouver and Toronto. 

In a press release, the company says the jobs created as part of Monday’s announcement will include software development engineers, user experience designers, speech scientists working to make Alexa smarter, cloud computing solutions architects, sales and marketing executives.

Three thousand of the jobs will be in Vancouver and 500 will be in Toronto.

A security guard walks the halls at the new Amazon office in downtown Toronto on Dec. 18, 2018. The company has just announced it will create 3,500 new jobs in Canada in its tech and corporate workforce. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)

The Canadian Press reports that Amazon’s renewed interest in its corporate and tech workforce and footprint in Canada comes after focusing the bulk of its efforts in the market on its network of 16 fulfilment centres–13 already in operation and another three coming in the Ontario cities of Hamilton, Ajax and Ottawa.

But the fulfilment centres have faced growing Canadian competition from Shopify Inc., the Ottawa-based e-commerce business that has shot up the Toronto Stock Exchange to hold the title of country’s most valuable company several times this year.

The presence of Amazon, which currently employs 21,000 people in Canada and says it has invested more than $11 billion in Canada since 2010, has not been without controversy.

Employees work at the Amazon fulfillment centre in Brampton, Ont. on November 26, 2018. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young)

In March, The Warehouse Workers Centre, an Ontario-based organization representing people in the warehouse and logistics sector, started a petition demanding that Amazon make changes to working conditions, saying–among other things–that physical distancing at Amazon facilities was close to impossible.

In April, the federal government faced a backlash for teaming up Amazon to distribute personal protective equipment across the country.

Critics of the partnership announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said using Amazon was problematic because it ignores the handful of Canadian-owned delivery brands that could do the job.

In May, Amazon ended pandemic-related pay incentives for workers in its Canadian warehouses.

The Amazon warehouse near Ottawa’s eastern border is pictured in April. (Jonathan Dupaul/CBC)

At the time, Amazon said it had spent hundreds of millions of dollars on COVID-19-related safety measures in its warehouses since the start of the year.

This week, it put the figure at $800 million.

The company told CP it unveiled temperature checks, physical distancing measures and offered personal protective wear as part of that investment.

“The health of our employees is absolutely critical to us,” Jesse Dougherty, an Amazon vice-president, told CP. 

“It is our top priority, so we are always paying attention to how those systems are working and ensuring they are the best they can be.”

With files from CBC News, The Canadian Press

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