In a magazine article published by MaRS, a Canadian startup incubator/coworking-space, Canadian startups are having trouble hiring excellent software engineers because of salaries. The salary difference between Silicon Valley and other U.S. areas and Canada is astonishing and on the part of Canadian companies, it’s shameful:
Few dispute the financial imbalance. “Money and opportunities are the reason 90 per cent of Canadians head to the Valley,” says University of British Columbia graduate Ricky Gu, who ran his own startup before moving to the U.S. to work as a senior software engineer at FullBottle, a crowd-sourcing platform for advertising creative.
“The pay is twice what it is in Canada.”
What is astounding is that living in Canadian cities like Vancouver costs as much as living in San Francisco or New York City. If salaries at your job do not match the cost of living in a city, there is a problem. Check out this article from the CBC which highlights how expensive it is to rent in Canadian cities like Vancouver and Toronto.
Apparently it is difficult for Canadian startups to extract money from venture capitalists and banks to be able to pay better. Software engineers are the hard working front line workers. In other articles, we’ve talked about wage suppression by Google, Apple, Adobe and other tech companies. In Canada, it appears the situation is even worse.
We encourage software developers around the world to reach out to any Canadians they know and help them increase their salary. Help them find remote work or jobs in the US, help them negotiate higher salaries.
If you’re a Canadian, we wish you good luck negotiating higher salaries because most startups and other larger companies will be fighting tooth and nail to keep salaries low, they will try and distract your from your low salary with other “benefits”:
Thomsen urges startups to make it clear to new recruits that they will have significant learning opportunities and the chance to greatly impact the company’s growth. Also, due to the small size of these firms, they will invariably participate in decisions that extend beyond their specific expertise. “It’s exciting, to be a part of a high-growth venture,” she says.
When it comes to compensation, universities are telling graduates they should look at all elements of a package, including benefits and options-based profit-sharing.
The benefits at Canadian startups are also lacking; profit sharing is non-existent and equity is reserved for founders and the initial hires. Anyone who didn’t get in at the ground floor is out of luck when it comes to the startup lottery.
Click here to read the rest of the MaRS article on the advice being given to Canadian startups on how to hire developers at below-market salaries. We hope the situation improves in the coming years and that Canadian startups can offer a living wage for software developers.