MJ ENTRY: How one candidate says Ottawa-Centre can prepare for the economy of the future

Conservative candidate Damian Konstantinakos on attracting the tech-sector downtown


By David Deen

OTTAWA – Ottawa’s tech sector is growing and there aren’t enough skilled workers to meet the demand. The Information and Communications Technology Council states that 9,724 workers will be required in the sector by 2019. Damian Konstantinakos, the Conservative Party candidate for Ottawa-Centre, believes he can be the one to bring high-tech jobs into Ottawa’s downtown.

“We have to look at the reasons why tech companies will move here and why they will not,” said Konstantinakos. “This includes issues of power for the big labs and affordable energy. Universities need to be well-funded and focus on the right areas of innovation.”

Konstantinakos is hoping to bring his 18 years of experience as an electrical engineer to encourage business diversification and growth in the sector.

According to a 2015 report from the Information and Communications Technology Council, there are currently 72,430 professionals in the ICT sector of the Ottawa-Gatineau region. The sector however, is experiencing skills shortages and by 2019, 9,724 workers will be required in the area. The key occupations in need include: computer systems analysts, consultants, computer and network operators, web technicians, programmers and interactive media developers.

“Tech companies start small and grow,” said Konstantinakos, emphasizing the need to support small businesses. “It is important that we recognize how jobs are created. That is the type of attitude that is needed.” He believes that the Conservative Party's promise to cut taxes for small businesses is the way to create those jobs.

Whether there is a correlation between small business tax and job creation is yet to be seen . Still, both the Conservative Party and the New Democratic Party (NDP) are promising a reduction in the small business tax, a reduction from 11% to 9%. The Conservatives, however, will phase this in over four years, whereas the NDP will implement the reduction immediately.

Encouraging downtown investment in ICT will be a challenge, as much of the tech-sector growth in the city has concentrated in the western suburb Kanata, where small businesses stand to benefit from cheaper rental fees and buildings equipped with the adequate infrastructure.

“We need to start talking up businesses that are downtown, businesses like Shopify for example,” said Konstantinakos. “Sometimes there is a narrative that the public sector is downtown and the tech sector is in the west. We need reprocessing. We need to look to see what federal infrastructure can be freed up for incubators.”