Could post-election American immigrants bolster Ottawa tech?

Could the much-talked-about Trump exodus have Americans requesting northern transfers en masse and help Canada attract talent? The answer is a maybe – it depends if interest is just nervous curiosity or a real desire to relocate.

Kelly Daize, Invest Ottawa's market director for the Americas, watched the election with interest. Part of her job is to convince companies that Ottawa is a good place to set up.

"It's certainly interesting times," she said. "Nothing quite of this magnitude has happened in my lifetime at least, but for sure we've been thinking about it and watching it, wondering what impact it might have."

Daize said Americans often ask her about immigration policies and diversity.

"I think it's very attractive to a lot of people in the U.S. that our political culture is not quite as divisive," she said.

For Americans considering a change of country, Daize insists that Ottawa attracts a lot of talent and has a lot of advantages like cost of living.

Andreas Schotter, a researcher at Western University who studies labour mobility, said right now there is certainly a lot of talk about American immigrants influencing the Canadian job market.

“It’s not as easy as many people think,” said Schotter. “I don’t see this easy transition where we’ll open the flood gates and all these Americans will come over.”

Schotter said immigration laws in Canada are strict – companies need to demonstrate that they can’t fill the position with a Canadian. Successful people coming from the United States will also face a reality of higher taxes, a weak loonie and a different culture.

In his view, the election results might actually be an opportunity to attract talent – but strict requirements stand in the way.

“I wish in Canada we would take more advantage of this. At the end of the day the global employment world is changing. Highly qualified people will always be more mobile. If you make it difficult for them to migrate, you have a problem,” he said.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau recently announced a plan to attract global tech talent, including reducing wait times for visas and work permits.

Schotter said moving between offices at companies like Google is a relatively easy process, but he does not expect to see a lot of people following through.

“It’s just way too attractive to work for these companies in the U.S. This will settle down,” he said.

Samantha Sjodin, spokesperson for Canada’s Information and Communications Technology Council, said the organization plans to address the topic with more evidence in the new year, after publishing an outlook report on employment in Canada.

This story originally appeared in Metro News.