Females in Tech in Canada, Time To Move Past Stereotypes

In the past few months, the conversation on women’s rights and gender parity has gained increasing importance. We are no longer paying lip-service to gender disparity, and women have become more and more vocal on the many ways that inequality affects their lives.

Canadian government is trying to help with their recently launched CanCode program investing $50 million over two years:

#Metoo brought awareness to the daily violence experienced by women, one that is an intrinsic part of our society, while #Timesup is working on addressing inequality and injustice in the workplace and those are issues that can range from pay inequality to  sexual harassment in the workplace. Indisputably, the best way to address many of these issues is to increase women’s representation.

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When it comes to technology, women are grossly underrepresented, – in Canada only 21% of graduates in technology and education and 9% of software developers are female. Think about the missed opportunities in terms of lost careers and business opportunities? We are missing out on services, products and ideas catered to and created by 50% of the population.

If the future is to be Female, we need to move past stereotypes and make sure our daughters have access to those sectors that are experiencing the fastest growth. Currently in Davos, the world leaders are discussing how the inequality in STEM will widen the pay gap. 

Here is what Jennifer Flanagan, Youth.STEM.Innovation Feminist & promoter of reconciliation. Everyone should code! CEO, Actua, had to say about it:

Why Online Shopping in Canada Is So Expensive

Welcome to Canada, where everything costs 15-25% more expensive than same product south of the border in the US.

Most of things you want to buy in Canada will most likely cost much less in the US. Why not shop in the US and get it shipped to Canada you say? Well, that is because Government of Canada will hit you with a big duty fee that will be anywhere between 10%-50% of the item value when you cross the border with it.

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Why Canadians Pay More For Online Shopping

What happens when you order online from the US and ship it to Canada – your order will fall under the provision of the Postal Imports Remission Order of Canada: if someone mails you an item worth CAN$20 or more, there is duty or tax payable.

Example – buying stroller for your little one:

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USA – $599 USD + no tax: because your are shipping to Canada: https://www.buybuybaby.com/store/product/britax-reg-b-free-travel-system/3343161

Canada – $799 Canadian plus 14% provincial tax: https://well.ca/products/britax-b-free-travel-system_141411.html

So if you want to buy that $600 USD stroller in the US (manufactured in China) vs buying it in Canada for $900 plus HST or PST/GST (about 14%), you think you are saving $737 Canadian vs $1,026 Canadian for a total savings of almost $300 – not bad for a quick research.

BUT not so fast: the problem is that now Government of Canada will ask you to pay the applicable duty, the GST or HST, and any PST on the item’s full value duty, which you can calculate yourself here https://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/travel-voyage/dte-acl/est-cal-eng.html. This will amount to about $200 if you import into Quebec or Ontario. So you are still saving about $100 but not as much as $300.

Difference between Canada and the US

The difference is that when you ship anything to the US instead of $20 exemption like in Canada they have $800 US exemption. With the new NAFTA review, the US government is pushing Canada to up and match the exemption.

Why Canada Does Not Want to Match US $800 exemption?

You would think that this would be a good thing for everyone if Canada upped the exemption. However accounting firm PwC – commissioned by the Retail Council of Canada released a report saying that 300,000 jobs will be lost because Canadians will be paying 20-30% less and that usually goes to retail people’s salary. Even if exemption limit is pushed only to $200 – the study says still 280,000 people would lose their jobs in Canada.

Canada Retail is furious that hard working Canadians trying to save a buck or $300 if you are buying above mentioned stroller and say that it is ridiculous that you want to save money:

“It would be a bizarre public-policy choice to incentivize people to shop anywhere but here,” said Karl Littler, the Retail Council of Canada’s vice-president of public affairs. “This would be an incentive not to invest here. It would, in fact, be an incentive to invest elsewhere in order to gain access to the tax and duty advantage.”

Why US wants Canada to match it?

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US does not agree. Mr. Lighthizer, the U.S. Trade Representative, is pushing $800 exemption, because he says its unfair to Canadians and Americans. He says that NAFTA might get cancelled if this point is not dealt with.

The American side says that they will reduce wait times, and increase revenue for the American government and companies in the US.

“The facts are that the government spends more to go after de minimis than they collect,” said Maryscott Greenwood, chief executive of the Canadian American Business Council, who added that a higher threshold would benefit Canadian exporters and consumers.

“The public wants to be able to buy things for convenience online,” she said.

What can you do to help to raise the exemption?

There are few petitions going on, you can sign it if you wish:

https://petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-399

https://www.change.org/p/raise-the-customs-exemption-limit-for-purchases-coming-into-canada

Under the Postal Imports Remission Order, goods imported from another country are exempt from taxes and duties if the value does not exceed $20; $60 on gifts. That’s right, for an item worth more than $60, you have to pay to receive a gift. This is known as the de minimis threshold. (de minimis: too trivial or minor to merit consideration, especially pertaining to law) This threshold was put in place in 1985, long before the emergence of e-commerce, which many of us use today. This regulation is completely outdated and out of step with our NAFTA peers, and this limit of $20 is one of the lowest in the developed world.

Canada is a part of NAFTA (North America Free Trade Agreement) along with the United States and Mexico. The U.S. has a de minimis threshold of $800USD, and Mexico a threshold of $300USD.

There are many, many items that simply cannot be purchased within Canada. When importing, with duty and taxes as well as brokerage fees that may occur, you may end up paying much more than (sometimes even double) the actual price of an item. This doesn’t just harm consumers, but also small to medium-sized businesses. Commercial goods above $1600 are exempt from duties and taxes, protecting many larger businesses from encountering these harsh fees. It’s time to stop penalizing the small guys so heavily for trying to take part in the global economy, or even just the North American economy for that matter, and wasting so much money, time, and manpower doing it.

Toronto Public Library Launches Netflix like Free Movie Streaming Service

Toronto users rejoice! No need to pay for Netflix if you want to watch quality movies. Toronto Library has got you covered. All you need is a library card and few minutes to setup your account.

Toronto Library have introduced the free video streaming service to over 30,000 streaming videos with their partner company Kanopy, based in San Francisco. In comparison, Netflix offers a total of around 13,300 titles worldwide.

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We’re adding 30,000 new streaming videos to our collection! The selection of films is outstanding. It includes titles from producers including the Great Courses and PBS, as well as award-winning indie, documentary and Canadian films. Hundreds of new titles are added each month.

How much it will cost you ask? Absolutely nothing. Free. Zilch!

The interface is unbelievable and it  feels like you are browsing Netflix. Almost feels like stealing.

So how does Toronto Library Movie Streaming works?

  • You can access Kanopy films with your smartphone, tablet, PC or Smart TV
  • Kanopy is compatible with Roku, Android, iOS and Apple TV
  • You have three days to watch each film
  • You can access up to eight films a month
  • All films are fully accessible, with captions and transcripts, and are compatible with screen reader software such as JAWS

What’s there to watch?

You have access to over 30,000 streaming videos. Films like Maudie, Brooklyn, Ingrid Goes West, Paterson and I am Not Your Negro, the Oscar-nominated documentary narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, are available for you to start watching right away.

Who Gets It?

You have to be a proper city Toronto resident to obtain a FREE library card unless you are a non-resident who works, goes to school, or owns property in Toronto.

If you reside outside of the City of Toronto – you might consider the option of paying a fee to obtain a card that is valid for either 3 months or 12 months at a time. The fee for non-residents is $30.00 for 3 months or $120.00 for 12 months.

Ottawa Library also uses Kanopy so you can use that library card to get connected as well. Also if you are going to university or college – you will be able to get access through that as well.

Last but not least, there is competing service called Hoopla where you can borrow digital music, video and comics to stream, and it covers roughly 7,000 libraries in the United States and Canada; a full list is available here. If you live in Oakville for example, you can access it here.

What are you waiting for?

Watch out Netflix, with library card you have the power. What are you waiting for? Sign up here to watch Toronto Library streaming service free.

Bell Canada Hacked, User Data Breached

Bell Canada is alerting its users that it was hacked and user data was taken. It said that hackers have accessed the customer personal information.

Media reports that potentially as many as 100,000 users are affected by this data breach. Bell Canada did not confirm the exact number as of yet.

In the data that was obtained by hackers – there were such things as names, emails, company names and phone numbers.  Bell said that no credit card or banking info was obtained.

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RCMP is taking over investigation.

Netflix en français or по русски!?

Most people nowdays have Netflix account or use their friend’s or family member’s account. Netflix has over 120m streaming subscribers to date.

But what happens if you are tired of English shows and want to spice it up a bit? Or maybe you are Francophile or Russophile and want to brush up on the language or watch in your native tongue?

Well fear not, as Netflix supports both selection by audio and subtitles / captions. In Canada we have 18 different languages available for us to watch TV shows and movies in (including French, German, Hindi, Spanish, Russian, Tagalog and more).

All you have to do is head to and select language you want to watch in:

https://www.netflix.com/browse/subtitles

Please do not forget to enable caption / subtitles – either online or on your Roku / Chrome / Apple TV devices.

It is interesting to note, that there is no difference on Netflix for French from France or French from Quebec.

OK, enough of chit chat. Time to watch some Astérix – Le Domaine des Dieux. 

Why Amazon Picked Toronto as Their Top 20 HQ2 Finalist

Toronto, the only Canadian city , was picked as top 20 contender for Amazon second head quarters. John Tory, Toronto’s mayor, was very happy to hear the good news:

We are excited to have this opportunity and to be able to tell Toronto’s unique story. The Toronto Region has emerged as a global centre of innovation and technology because of our talented, diverse and inclusive workforce. There is no other city region in North America that can boast the same talent, the same quality of life, the same vibrancy and economic strength,” he said.

However at this point it does not matter if win or lose, Toronto has established itself as a major tech hub in North America that can take on Boston, Chicago and even New York City.

Toronto’s Advantages

Toronto is already booming with tech with major players have established their offices here. And unlike in Montreal, a city in the neighbouring province of Quebec, most of the Fortune 500, have hired not just handful of developers but thousands.

Free-Photos / Pixabay
  • General Motors is hiring 1,000 software engineers to build a smart car
  • Thomson Reuters is hiring 1,500 software engineers for their tech hub
  • Google, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft is hiring 1,000s of developers to get their AI / machine learning going
  • … and last but not least Google is building a high tech city of tomorrow downtown Toronto

Toronto and its residents have 3 big things going for them that no other city in North America can rival:

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  1. Immigration policy is better than in the US. Recently introduced tech visas can be obtained in less than 2 weeks. There is also no limit on # of visas issued.
  2. Ontario has publicly funded universities. High rated universities such as University of Toronto and Waterloo produce thousands of smart engineers.
  3. High tech salaries while high for Canadian salary standards are very low when compared to US salaries most software engineers make in most of the cities in United States.

Toronto’s Disadvantages

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The only thing that Toronto might be lacking is high cost of real estate where many detached houses are sold for over $1m in Toronto and the suburbs such as Mississauga, Richmond Hill and Oakville. Toronto is still not as high as San Francisco or New York real estate and salaries earned in Toronto are higher when adjusted for cost of living.

Toronto Mayor John Tory discusses making the cut on Amazon’s list of potential cities to build its second headquarters.

Toronto Mayor John Tory: Amazon would be a great addition to Toronto economy from CNBC.

Amazon Shortlists Toronto for their New Headquarters

Amazon just announced that it has narrowed down the list of cities to 20 for their HQ2 location. Just as a reminder, Amazon wants to spend $5 billion dollars in the city, and hire 50,000 employees there. Amazon said it will make their final decision by the end of 2018.

So the good news is Toronto, a leader in IT space in Canada, has been chosen by Amazon on their short list of 20. The bad news is, no other Canadian cities such as Monteal, Vancouver, Ottawa or Calgary have made it. Few months we have predicted that this is exactly how this will play out in our article on why we think Toronto will be either shortlisted or the city Amazon will pick for its HQ2.

The 20 Amazon short listed cities for HQ 2 are:

  • Atlanta, GA
  • Austin, TX
  • Boston, MA
  • Chicago, IL
  • Columbus, OH
  • Dallas, TX
  • Denver, CO
  • Indianapolis, IN
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Miami, FL
  • Montgomery County, MD
  • Nashville, TN
  • Newark, NJ
  • New York City, NY
  • Northern Virginia, VA
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • Raleigh, NC
  • Toronto, ON
  • Washington D.C.

Amazon overall has received 238 proposals from cities. Holly Sullivan, an executive with Amazon Public Policy, said:

“Getting from 238 to 20 was very tough – all the proposals showed tremendous enthusiasm and creativity.”

Now the 20 short listed cities will work closely with Amazon over the next 9-10 months to “evaluate the feasibility of a future partnership.”

Toronto Mayor John Tory Was Ecstatic

‪I’m so proud of the Toronto Region’s bold Amazon.com bid. #AmazonHQ2 ‬

‪I'm so proud of the Toronto Region's bold Amazon.com bid. #AmazonHQ2 ‬

Posted by John Tory on Thursday, January 18, 2018

So who will be chosen now?

Paddy Power, website that takes wagers on sports but ventures into politics and other topics, gives Atlanta 2-to-1 odds against winning the competition. Philadelphia is at 7-to-1, Boston at 8-to-1 and Toronto at 9-to-1.