Toronto and Vancouver are Canada’s Top Tech Talent Markets but Tech Jobs Growing Quickest in Smaller and Cheaper Markets

Waterloo Region and Winnipeg lead the pace for tech job growth

Toronto – November 7, 2016 – Toronto is Canada’s leading tech market and its tech workforce has grown by over a third in the last five years.  However, competition for highly skilled technology workers is stiffening among a surge of new technology jobs in smaller, cheaper markets.  According to CBRE Canada’s inaugural 2016 Scoring Tech Talent Report, total tech employment in Canada has swelled by almost a quarter in the last five calendar years, adding almost 140,000 new jobs.  However, the report also discovered that technology employers are increasingly examining talent costs to guide location decisions with three of the four largest increases in new technology jobs occurring in smaller and lower costs markets.  Waterloo Region, Winnipeg and Halifax recorded 74.4%, 58.5% and 50.0% growth respectively over the last five years. 

“The number of tech jobs has soared in Canada in the past five years, with nine out the 10 top Canadian markets recording growth.  Of those nine, eight recorded double digit growth rates.  The tech sector is becoming ever more critical by the day to the Canadian office market, with technology firms accounting for 16.1% of all major office lease deals in Canada last year.  This percentage increases markedly in our larger urban areas, for example tech accounted for 43% of all leases in Ottawa last year, and it’s a trend we only see growing in the years to come,” commented Raymond Wong, Head of Research at CBRE Canada.

Rankings for the Tech Talent Scorecard are determined based on 13 unique metrics including tech talent supply, growth, concentration, cost, completed degrees, industry outlook for job growth, and market outlook for both office and apartment rent cost growth. Each market is then ascribed a score out of 100.  Being already well established tech markets, Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa and Montreal took the top four spots, with Calgary, surprising by taking the fifth spot.  Halifax, Edmonton, Waterloo Region, Winnipeg and London were ranked six to 10.  Although starting from a smaller base, explaining their lower rankings, it’s important to recognize that Waterloo Region, Winnipeg and Halifax demonstrated the highest tech job growth rates.

In an effort to find potential future tech growth markets, the report modeled the average yearly cost for a typical tech firm based on the salary of 500 employees and a 75,000 sq. ft. office lease.  The results were:

​1. ​Calgary, AB $39.8M
​2. ​Ottawa, ON ​$38.2M
​3. ​Edmonton, AB ​$36.4M
​4. ​Toronto, ON ​$36.6M
​5. ​Vancouver, BC ​$34.8M
​6. ​Waterloo Region, ON ​$33.2M
​7. ​Montreal, QC ​$32.9M
​8. ​London, ON ​$32.2M
​9. ​Halifax, NS ​$31.6M
​10. ​Winnipeg, MB ​$30.7M

Employee wages are by far the greatest cost within tech talent markets.  These highly skilled and educated workers command, on average, 45% more than average non-tech workers in Canada.  Calgary, surprisingly came out as the most expensive tech market for employers.  This was driven by higher wages, at an average of $83,000 for tech workers, as salaries remain elevated following a strong energy market performance.  This was approximately $3,500 higher than the next expensive market, Ottawa.  With increasing office vacancy and further energy market job losses, the overall cost in Calgary is expected to decline in the coming years.

“What’s interesting to note is that the markets with the highest rates of tech jobs growth, Waterloo, Winnipeg and Halifax are all in the bottom half of our rankings of overall cost to operate.  It’s clear that firms are targeting cities which provide a cheaper access to labour, but also provide educational attainment levels which are markedly higher than the national basis.

“Despite the higher cost of real estate in Toronto and Vancouver, this is dwarfed by the cost of wages. So lower salaries than other Canadian cities still make these large tech centres an affordable option for many companies.  When you add in that in these two cities over a third of the labour pool is university educated, and they already provide established tech networks and communities, its little wonder that many international firms are looking to set up shop there.  Compared to the top 50 most expensive North American tech markets, Toronto and Vancouver are 49th and 50th in the rankings, assisted by a low Canadian dollar.  This makes these two cities are relative bargain for US tech firms looking to expand further North,” added Wong.


About CBRE Group, Inc.
CBRE Group, Inc. (NYSE:CBG), a Fortune 500 and S&P 500 company headquartered in Los Angeles, is the world’s largest commercial real estate services and investment firm (in terms of 2015 revenue). The Company has more than 70,000 employees (excluding affiliates), and serves real estate owners, investors and occupiers through more than 400 offices (excluding affiliates) worldwide. CBRE offers strategic advice and execution for property sales and leasing; corporate services; property, facilities and project management; mortgage banking; appraisal and valuation; development services; investment management; and research and consulting. Please visit our website at www.cbre.com.

In Canada, CBRE Limited employs approximately 1,890 people in 20 locations from coast to coast. Please visit our website at www.cbre.ca.