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Old 07-17-2015, 01:18 PM   #1
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Educate me on the Economy

Can someone please explain to me why Canada, whom is a country that could be self sufficient with resources, is in worse shape than America who is trillions in debt and reliant on other countries to fuel their resource needs. They were borderline in a recession not to long ago yet OUR dollar is the on that continues to fall. How does our dollar take a hit when we as a country have never been more stable?

What is causing our dollar to drop?

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Old 07-17-2015, 01:20 PM   #2
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Trade.

China's stock market took a drastic plunge which doesn't tread lightly on countries that outsource their resources to them.
Thus with China taking a massive hit, we did aswell. With exports of iron ore, copper, and coal all dropping because of this.

Then you have oil, (honestly the main factor here) which gets mainly exported to the US. With abundance in the Middle East, prices dropped and it is cheaper for the US to continue buying from them instead of us. Now we dropped our prices to match the ME, yet no money can be made, thus forcing facilities to close down until the price of oil goes back up.
Now you have the chain of effects.. Town built around oil --> rig/plant closes --> workers leave town to find new work --> business in town don't have consumers --> business' close --> more people leave to find work or are left unemployed.

From here, we go to Toronto and Vancouver where housing prices have jumped through the roof because of low interest rates where people are locking their wealth into property, causing a "housing bubble" which no one believes to burst.
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Old 07-17-2015, 01:22 PM   #3
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Thanks for the Edit ^^^

Berz out.
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Old 07-17-2015, 01:47 PM   #4
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The quick answer is the demand of the CDN dollar. Interest rates and exports fuel demand for the CDN dollar, as demand and value of Canada's key exported commodities drop (ie...oil prices), so does the demand for the CDN dollar that countries importing Canadian commodities require to purchase those commodities. Bank of Canada also keeps cutting interest rates, which lowers the return/yield on assets held in Canada, so demand for CDN dollar goes down. The BoC again lowering the rate is just another signal Canada is in or headed into recession/slow down, as one purpose of lowering rates is to fuel consumer spending and borrowing to "jump start" the economy.
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Old 07-17-2015, 01:55 PM   #5
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the reason manufacturing remained languid was because the high value of loonie for the last 5+ years coming out of 2008 financial crisis. policy makers in ottawa finally realized canada needed a much lower loonie to revive this critical part of the economy. counterintuitively, a lower currency is exactly what we needed long time ago. this is actully very bullish.
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Old 07-17-2015, 02:03 PM   #6
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yup, a lower CDN dollar actually is a good thing for industry/business. For example our production costs are much lower in film/tv, our studio has 2 new network tv shows filming up here and the lower CDN dollar was one factor.
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Old 07-17-2015, 02:05 PM   #7
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Mexico has a massive head start on manufacturing though. Canadians are used to too high of a standard of living and the Mexican worker can be paid much less. There is so much red tape in Canada, shipping a product between provinces, from my knowledge, is actually more difficult than Mexico shipping products internationally.

The interest rates being so low is to get people to borrow more money and take on more debt for "investments" and to keep the economy going through spending. Harper wants to prop it up just long enough to make it through next election. They will promptly blame "outside forces" for the coming crash of the Canadian economy.

Once they've bottomed out the interest rate, what else can they do to stimulate the economy? Very little from what I know.
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Old 07-17-2015, 02:41 PM   #8
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So our dollar being good (I remember it being at par some years back) is actually BAD for our economy because people can't take advantage of us? US companies come and do business here (ie. Film Industry) because their dollar goes further! Seems like getting a low price prostitute rather than a high priced escort. Bang for the Buck so to speak.

The sad part is, when our dollar is good, everyone goes over the border or shops online because everything is cheaper everywhere else. The reason it's cheaper is because their dollar is better. When our dollar sinks our prices rise. It's a viscous cycle really. I just had to raise the prices on all the furniture in my store because our dollar is so low. Now that low buying power gets passed on to the consumer.

Where is the happy medium?

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Old 07-17-2015, 02:49 PM   #9
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The low CAD doesn't tell the whole story. Canada just isn't as economically dynamic as other developed countries, such as the US or Germany.

Productivity has lagged in Canada for years. No one can really pin it on one thing, but here are some reasons often cited:
- high taxes compared to the US
- too much red tape/artificial barriers to do business
- lack of entrepreneurship/risk-taking
- poor infrastructure - insufficient road network, rail links, public transit, air travel
- weather - it's cold in the winter and hot in the summer
- Canadians are generally lazy because it's easy to live comfortably relatively speaking
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Old 07-17-2015, 03:05 PM   #10
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How does our dollar take a hit when we as a country have never been more stable?

What is causing our dollar to drop?
Isn't there some 5000 people without retail jobs nationwide in the span of weeks and Alberta's industry is also on a decline?
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Old 07-17-2015, 03:09 PM   #11
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Alberta's industry is impacted by world Oil Sales. This is the first time they have been really impacted to this extent and our dollar has been tumbling for years. Alberta is in a different league than the rest of Canada. When they are booming they are booming the trickle down doesn't really affect the rest of the country. However when they close down due to low oil prices it effects everyone. Just like the price of oil per barrel affecting fuel huge with it goes up by a few cents but doesn't have the same decline in price with the price drops.

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Old 07-17-2015, 03:16 PM   #12
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Where is the happy medium?
The current exchange rate is the happy medium. It reflects the supply and demand for both currencies.
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Old 07-17-2015, 03:31 PM   #13
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I hope Canada does not expect the price of oil to go back up as it will only allow them to think they can continue on this path, instead they should expect to replace the entire industry and become leaders. With more and more alternatives to fossil fuels coming out all the time I want to believe Canada hasn't become blind to the amount of people that will be out of work in the coming years/century.
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Old 07-17-2015, 03:36 PM   #14
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yup, a lower CDN dollar actually is a good thing for industry/business. For example our production costs are much lower in film/tv, our studio has 2 new network tv shows filming up here and the lower CDN dollar was one factor.
The Save BC Film campaign occurred during a period when Canada's petrodollar led to a strong CAD.

This is also good for tech. I'm sure you've heard how US salaries for software development on the west coast are astronomical, to the order of $95,000-110,000 USD for new grads ($120-140K Canadian).

Robert Half's salary guide for Canadian technology professionals (http://s3.amazonaws.com/DBM/M3/2011/...lary-guide.pdf) have software developer salaries starting at $76K and software engineer salaries starting at $91K for 2015.

In USD that's $59K and $70K respectively; SF and Seattle companies that open development shops in Canada have an inherent 25% savings by hiring Canadian devs.

Amazon Vancouver starts Software Development Engineer I hires at $82K, and $85K at Microsoft Vancouver. Because these companies don't have to pay Seattle/Redmond salaries, yet stay geographically close to the Puget Sound, it's advantageous for them to set up a distributed programming shop in Vancouver.

Obviously the lower cost of living (buying property notwithstanding) and sunshine tax mean that Vancouver software salaries are generally lower than the Robert Half guidelines. However, the winds may be changing.

A weak loonie means that Alberta's petrodollar no longer holds sway, and the economic clout switching to manufacturing and high tech in Ontario and BC. At least, that's what's supposed to happen; I haven't seen it yet. It certainly will play a part in October's election; now that Alberta, the home of the CPC, doesn't have economic clout anymore, the election will be decided in Ontario.

In addition, a weak loonie means that venture capital firms in Menlo Park and New York aren't as apprehensive about funding Canadian ventures which compensates for Canada's thin VC market. A strong labour pool coming out of UBC, SFU, UVic and BCIT, the SR&ED tax credit, and a cost of living that is far less than any big American tech city (again, so long as you don't buy property) are other factors. I've been reading some articles in BIV and other publications about Vancouver tech startups going for IPOs in 2015. I'm taking a wait and see approach on that as well.

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Old 07-17-2015, 03:52 PM   #15
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Old 07-17-2015, 03:55 PM   #16
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Old 07-17-2015, 03:57 PM   #17
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Salary is one thing but another big factor is just the culture is a bit different down south. I'm not sure how things have changed in a few years in Vancouver but the benefits that these startups also give are hard to compete with.

It's really not that hard for a Canadian to get a job down south, do the same amount of work but almost get paid double after the exchange.

I do hope Vancouver's tech industry does grow though and is able to compete down south.
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Old 07-17-2015, 04:38 PM   #18
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This is also good for tech. I'm sure you've heard how US salaries for software development on the west coast are astronomical, to the order of $95,000-110,000 USD for new grads ($120-140K Canadian).

Robert Half's salary guide for Canadian technology professionals (http://s3.amazonaws.com/DBM/M3/2011/...lary-guide.pdf) have software developer salaries starting at $76K and software engineer salaries starting at $91K for 2015.

In USD that's $59K and $70K respectively; SF and Seattle companies that open development shops in Canada have an inherent 25% savings by hiring Canadian devs.
Not sure how you get those tech sector salaries. I have a good number of computer science / engineering friends working in TO with multiple degrees and 10-15+ years of experience. Some of them are in the $85k+ range, and the good ones are in the $140k+ range, so starting at Cdn$76k seems fairly high. My inlaw is also a developer, and I think he is in the $90k+ range. But again, he has quite a bit of experience under his belt as well.

Is all that experience only worth $15k? Seems kind of iffy to me...
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Old 07-17-2015, 04:40 PM   #19
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Canadian economy relies heavily on raw natural resource exports. Oil, lumber, coal, etc.

When demand for these resources goes down, so does the Canadian economy.
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Old 07-17-2015, 04:56 PM   #20
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Salary is one thing but another big factor is just the culture is a bit different down south. I'm not sure how things have changed in a few years in Vancouver but the benefits that these startups also give are hard to compete with.

It's really not that hard for a Canadian to get a job down south, do the same amount of work but almost get paid double after the exchange.
I still think Vancouver has a lot going for it.

Health insurance through MSP is single-payer--no co pays or deductibles--and costs $864/year, which is well in the range of your average single software developer. Health insurance in the US is a pain even with Cadillac insurance policies from tech companies. (And I have it on good authority that Amazon's health insurance provider in Washington state, Premera Blue Cross, is pretty stingy especially compared to GroupHealth.) A recent Forbes article estimated that Obamacare "silver" plans average out at $4,000/year, with a $2,500 deductible and 40% prescription coverage. Of course, this will vary on your age, geographic location, your income, whether your're a smoker. Here in BC, single people pay $72/month no matter what their age or health, though the floor for premium assistance is far too low for my liking. Before the ACA was passed, you could have your coverage dropped because the insurance provider saw rape as a "pre-existing condition", and there was a story from Florida a few years back where a rape victim suffered through just that. Universal health care works, and it shows.

The cost of a university education, although high, is still manageable in BC if you live at home. All-in tuition and fees at UBC and SFU are about $6000/year, and range between $7,500 and $15,000 CAD annually at US institutions. (UW, UO, Oregon State, UC Berkeley, etc.) I've heard stories of Berkeley students from out of state offering marriage proposals to California residents just so they can get in-state tuition. When you see how much more expensive college is in the US than Canada, it's no wonder why tech internships pay so much more down south. Oh, and there's no such thing as interest-free status in the US.

Because Canada doesn't have the economic inequality you see in the US, Vancouver doesn't have the jaw-dropping poverty/violent crime of many US cities. The DTES or Whalley don't even come close to Beacon Hill or White Center or Burien in Seattle, or the Tenderloin or East Oakland or East Palo Alto in the Bay Area, or Inglewood in Los Angeles. The social and economic disparities are extreme. Seattle and San Francisco have had lots of rioting over the past decade: WTO, Mardi Gras, Ferguson, Darren Wilson not being indicted, the Black Friday boycott, the annual May Day riot in Seattle...almost every week tech employee shuttle buses are stopped on the 101 or 80 in San Francisco by protestors; the tech employees are the most visible sign of this wealth disparity even if they didn't trigger it. There are also pretty bad racial tensions: white vs. black, black vs. latino, white vs. latino, that have been smoothed over somewhat in Canada's cultural mosaic society.

And wait until you hear how shitty the cops are! At least when it comes to the VPD here, the force members are physically fit and not trigger happy. The SPD has been in constant hot water for the last couple of years for police brutality and targeting minorities. Remember the no-knock warrant raid in Georgia where the flashbang grenade exploded in a baby's crib? State lawmakers called for no-knock warrant reforms so that didn't happen again and this was the response of the police unions in that state.

Rents in Vancouver are better than any US tech city besides maybe Chicago. There's a housing crisis in the Bay Area, Californians have invaded Austin, while rents have skyrocketed in Seattle, Portland, Denver and Boston. A nice 1br downtown is about $1400-1500. In Seattle it's $2000 and up. And in SF, even a place in the ghetto can be $3500/month. Cheaper rents = employers don't have to pay as much.

The downtown core is dense and walkable. You don't need a car. I can't think of any other tech city that doesn't have lots of sprawl and freeways, even Seattle which is struggling to come up with funding for transit expansion.

The climate is great. I love the soothing drizzly winters that make everything green. And the summers are the best in Canada. Vancouver is not too hot, not too cold; just right. A moderate climate also means gardening and outdoor pursuits can be year round.

Like I said, Vancouver is fit, and the federal and provincial government champion healthy eating habits. There are produce stands everywhere, and if you combine that with getting cheap chicken breast from from Costco, eating healthy isn't as expensive as in the US. Down south, you have to drive to get anywhere, which motivates a sedentary lifestyle. But produce is expensive and fresh food isn't always available, even in big cities ("food deserts"). I see a lot of obese people in Burnaby and New West, but that's nothing compared to Seattle. My God, I thought it was a fit city. I can go to Jack in the Box and get a massive amount of food for $4-5, which would be $10-11 here in BC. When you have four or five figure medical bills and work 60 hours a week, are you going to spend the time and money to eat fresh and healthy, or go to Jack in the Box? This is also the reason $15/hour minimum wage protests have been going on in Seattle, and there have been comparatively few protests in Vancouver, because comparatively, we have it pretty good here. (Though I'm not saying it's perfect here or we should be complacent.)

There's so much litter around American cities. I remember going to Seattle and seeing so much garbage on the streets compared to Vancouver. It's a dirty, grimy city.

This is subjective, but Canada just works. The political and social issues plaguing many US states are not as acute in Canada, because we've solved many of the political problems that the US still hasn't. Such as campaign finance reform, impartial electoral redistricting and so on. The overall quality of life for everyone, not just those who are rich, is higher than south of the border, and I prefer that.

There's a lot of political polarization down south. Moderates can be rare, you just have super liberal people and super conservative people with no inbetween. There is wide populist support for mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug crimes, and prison for punishment and not rehabilitation (and yes, there are plenty of prison rape jokes made as well).

Spoiler!

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Old 07-17-2015, 05:06 PM   #21
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21 Posts, not a single comment regarding the bond market? lol

1. Interest rate differentials.
Countries with higher interest rates typically have lower inflation, high inflation negatively impacts currency value in relation to exchanges. I'll compare Canada as a country to a publicly traded company below to explain.

When a publicly traded company needs more money they will typically dilute by increasing the total number of shares outstanding, this allows the company to sell shares to raise capital at the cost of existing shareholders losing some equity. When Canada lowers the overnight lending rate, they are essentially diluting the dollar, reducing it's purchasing power.

2. Trade Deficits and Conditions
If the price of our exports drop as the price of our imports increase, this has a compounding effect on currency depreciation. Simplified, as your exports increase, the desire for others to acquire and trade in your currency increases.

3. Public Debt
The deficit of the country along with the number of bonds sold to support the debt impacts the value of the currency as it will result in significant lagging inflation. Simplified, Canada's economy is in the shitter, growth is almost non existent, no growth makes debt harder to repay, as a result, we sell more bonds and do so at a higher bond yield. As our currency tanks, bond yields climb, essentially rewarding foreign investors for the added risk associated with our debt.

4. Economic Growth and Stability
A growing economy receives significant domestic and foreign investment as people realize that there is opportunity to make money. In a slow or contracting economy it's the opposite, less foreigners want to invest here, and more domestic dollars will be spent elsewhere. The bonus factor here is political stability, and carrying capicity of debt, once investors start to fear that the debt servicing capabilities of a country are in question, currency depreciation occurs, inflation climbs, and bond yields jump

Long story short, Canada's economy is not strong or stable, and we appear to be heading for a recession. Think of the dollar as a leading indicator of our overall economic health, the only thing that can save us is a massive jump in oil prices... that might buy the Gov. enough time to diversify our economy towards innovation and tech.

With regards to manufacturing, we will never have strong mfg sector as any competitive advantage we have is limited to domestic trade, we are not competitive in a global market... not even close.
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Old 07-17-2015, 05:22 PM   #22
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What effect would refining our own oil have on our import/export value? I've always wondered why we sell our crude for cheap and import it back for a huge mark up?

Berz out.
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Old 07-17-2015, 05:37 PM   #23
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Not sure how you get those tech sector salaries. I have a good number of computer science / engineering friends working in TO with multiple degrees and 10-15+ years of experience. Some of them are in the $85k+ range, and the good ones are in the $140k+ range, so starting at Cdn$76k seems fairly high. My inlaw is also a developer, and I think he is in the $90k+ range. But again, he has quite a bit of experience under his belt as well.

Is all that experience only worth $15k? Seems kind of iffy to me...
Rent is inexpensive in Vancouver and you can get around without a car (good luck doing that in the GTA!) so salaries are a bit lower. Sunshine tax and lack of VC in Vancouver also plays a part.

There's been a spreadsheet going around of Vancouver tech employers: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets...uTk/edit#gid=0

From that I can add on a few more points:

MDA pays shit, it's the Canadian version of SpaceX. Avoid.

Microsoft is probably the best "big" SF/Seattle company in Vancouver apart from SalesForce, especially with Ballmer and his ranking system out, and Nadella as CEO. They pay their engineers well, the co-op salaries are high (not Foundry but actual SDE internships), and the work life balance is great. New grads start between $70-90K depending on the position and experience. I'd be surprised if an SDE I or SDET was making less than $75K, most start at $80-85K. The stock grants vest much more generously than Amazon (60% of base in total, vesting 25% annually after your first year, and in USD which means you get even more money from the currency conversion). The downsides are that there's a large H-1B/L-1 workforce unlike Amazon which is mostly hiring locals, and the codebase is archaic. Only the senior staff in Redmond know how to work with it.

Amazon has a reputation for being slave driving but the AWS and Fulfillment teams in Vancouver aren't as bad. However, favouritsm and a cutthroat atmosphere is common, but that's dependent on your team, and it's easy to switch to a better team/manager. The really bad thing is the lack of perks, and what's worse, mandatory on-call rotations (generally 1-2 weekends a month you'll need your laptop). Fuck that! My job is not my life. I have the right to keep them separate.

HootSuite got rid of their unpaid internships, but the pay is still low; you won't hit $70K+ as a new grad unless you're a backend or full stack engineer. It's also got that hip East Van vibe that reminds me of an episode of Silicon Valley on HBO.

A Thinking Ape pays their engineers very well ($85K+ full time; $5300/month for co-op) and has an excellent work life balance. It was started by Amazon engineers to combine great engineering with a laid back lifestyle. Other game studios I like include East Side Games and Roadhouse Interactive.

EA Burnaby is okay; salaries for devs are average for thsi town and not as susceptible to crunch times or random mass layoffs as other positions in an AAA game studio. However, I will never forgive them for their role in destroying BC labour protections for software developers, creating the common high-hours, low-salary dev jobs that are so common in Vancouver.

Most hardware companies except for Ericsson don't pay their devs well. I've already called out MDA, I'm also going to call out Fortinet. No on the job training, pathetic raises, and a very homogeneous (read: mostly Asian) workforce.

Other Van companies that pay well: Mobify, SAP Vancouver, Clio, Arista, Mogo, Axiom Zen,

Van companies that don't pay well: Vision Critical, Global Relay, AppNeta, Bench, QuickMobile, AirG.
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Old 07-17-2015, 05:50 PM   #24
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Long story short, Canada's economy is not strong or stable, and we appear to be heading for a recession. Think of the dollar as a leading indicator of our overall economic health, the only thing that can save us is a massive jump in oil prices... that might buy the Gov. enough time to diversify our economy towards innovation and tech.
Were we ever in a boom ? Maybe BC had a great recovery because the Provicial NDP Government fucked up our economy so much that any cure by the Provincial Liberals was golden.

Diversify towards innovation and tech ? Being in the Tech industry for 9+ years, we have so much talent here. Problem is, there's not much jobs in the past 15 years.

Keep in mind, after the tech bubble burst, we have had a ton of tech folks without jobs that are still lingering today and have switched to different industries. Also, the Provincial Liberals had initiatives to increase the labour force in technology from 2002 onwards (via funding in schools so there would be more spots for students). Hell, the last re-org for my company was last October. Other companies most likely had a re-org in the past 2 years as well. So we definitely have technical folks out there with strong skill sets.

I still remember back in '06 when I started, I had an interview with Telus. I was competing against a Senior Developer for an entry level Developer Job. Hell, we were going to get paid the same salary, so why not go with the pro versus the newbie.
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Last edited by will068; 07-19-2015 at 03:56 PM.
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Old 07-17-2015, 05:57 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by GojiraBNR34 View Post
Microsoft is probably the best "big" SF/Seattle company in Vancouver apart from SalesForce, especially with Ballmer and his ranking system out, and Nadella as CEO. They pay their engineers well, the co-op salaries are high (not Foundry but actual SDE internships), and the work life balance is great. New grads start between $70-90K depending on the position and experience. I'd be surprised if an SDE I or SDET was making less than $75K, most start at $80-85K. The stock grants vest much more generously than Amazon (60% of base in total, vesting 25% annually after your first year, and in USD which means you get even more money from the currency conversion). The downsides are that there's a large H-1B/L-1 workforce unlike Amazon which is mostly hiring locals, and the codebase is archaic. Only the senior staff in Redmond know how to work with it.
You said it right there - H-1B/L-1 workforce. The very reason why they started an office here because Canada is more laxed with high skilled foreign workers than the US. MS has been lobbying for years to increase their quota to bring in foreign talent. Since the US Government keeps rejecting this, MS started the MS Richmond branch almost 10 years ago. I was excited at first when this happened since I was about to finish school. Then I found out they wouldn't be hiring Junior Personnel, only Senior Positions and mostly foreign workers as well.

I'm not sure about the environment in that office is now, I never bothered checking afterwards.
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