Toronto mayor John Tory opened the Collision 2022 event in Toronto with a question and answer session on June 21, addressing a few pressing issues around social support and talent retention in the tech sector.
Canada has had an issue with losing talent to the U.S. due to more lucrative opportunities there. On that point, the mayor specifically emphasized the growing homegrown tech community in Canada.
“A lot of them are being drawn to the U.S. and there’s nothing wrong with that, except that we’d rather they stay here, and now the opportunity is here,” said Tory at the event. “A lot of people are seeing the opportunity here, and also they don’t have to go away and in fact, there are people coming home. So we want to keep the flow of people going.”
Another component to attracting more talent, according to Tory, is the simple value and stability Canada has to offer.
“We [Canada] have a stable, united purpose here, which is to embrace people, to celebrate their differences, to know that as part of a stronger kind of society we’re trying to build here,” said Tory.
To keep the momentum going, Tory said Toronto will continue to invest in its education system and to promote its tech sector, highlighting Collision as an example. For Collision in particular, Mayor Tory would hope that it would produce some social value in addition to generating revenue.
To tackle these social issues, Mayor Tory emphasized that the government needs to put the data it collects to better use through the adoption of more robust technologies.
“If you think about it, the government probably has more data on people, and on people experiencing different things,” said Tory. “We don’t put it to enough use, to use the technology, the data collection, the analysis of the data, AI and things like that, that are going to help us to deliver a better answer for those things.”
One area that could stand to gain from better data analysis, Tory said, is the emergency call centre. Given the volume of calls, Tory believes that there’s not enough analysis being done on the trove of data that’s being generated.
This level of insight can easily translate into helping to alleviate the homelessness issue in the city, the mayor said. Tory believes that by better understanding the homelessness issues by breaking them down into their constituents, social support programs can avoid a “cookie-cutter” approach.
“Technology has those answers for us now. And people that are smart and can use different apps to analyze and pull apart that information to allow us to deliver better service,” said Tory. “There are very different people that have very different needs. And I think the answer lies in us using technology, taking the data that we have, and finding ways to deliver more customized effective services to people that are having different experiences, including whether it’s calling 911 or whether it’s experiencing homelessness.”