The next frontier for low-cost, low-risk labor, Amazon’s “Get to Work” program has begun to take hold in Canada, where the company’s Vancouver-based workers are making more money than they ever have before.
A recent study found that Canadian workers earning minimum wage or less made more than $18,000 per year in 2017, up by 30 percent from a year earlier.
And while many employers have struggled to fill openings, Amazon, Walmart and other companies have embraced the low-wage program to attract workers who are willing to work in dangerous conditions and pay less than minimum wage.
“Amazon is going to find that their workforce is growing at a really high rate and they are getting a lot of people,” said Mark McVeigh, chief economist at the Canadian Automobile Association, adding that his group is working with Amazon to develop a program that will target low-skill workers.
“They are going to be more flexible about what they can offer and how they can set the parameters to be able to meet those needs.”
Amazon is one of many companies, including Walmart, that have started to take a page from the playbook of the low wage program and set up their own program to compete with the high-wage, low benefits offered by large U.S. employers.
The company has been investing millions of dollars in its Vancouver headquarters and is currently opening its first distribution center in Ontario.
“We are seeing that people are really willing to come to Canada, and it’s an opportunity to grow that number,” said McVegh.
“And the opportunities to have people working at a low wage, a low-impact position, are really appealing to companies like Amazon.”
Amazon has already offered its workers in Vancouver and Ontario a reduced wage of $9 an hour, or $9.99 per hour for those who are 18 or older.
They also get the option to opt in to a $9-an-hour health benefit, or a $15 per hour job security benefit.
The program has been particularly effective at attracting high-skilled workers, who are typically paid higher wages and benefits than low-skilled ones.
“It’s going to drive down the cost of labor in the country,” said Aaron Zelin, executive director of the U.K.-based Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
Amazon, which employs more than 1.6 million people, has also announced that it will invest $200 million to hire 500 new staff in the coming years.
The investment will support programs for apprenticeship training, training for the disabled, job training and the development of high-paying tech jobs, including robotics and automation.
Amazon says it plans to create 100,000 jobs in Canada and Mexico by 2020.
Amazon’s Canadian operations are also a key part of its effort to diversify its product offerings.
“The biggest challenge is that the workforce in Canada has been stagnant for 20 years,” said Zelin.
“When we were growing at the same pace as we are now, we were able to do that because we had the lowest number of people in our country, the lowest unemployment rate and we had a lot less people moving from one country to another.”
Amazon Canada announced this week that it would open two more fulfillment centers, bringing its total to 25, and is also working to expand its retail operations.
The Canadian online retailer, which is valued at $14.5 billion, also has plans to expand in other regions, including the U and U.Y. markets.
But for now, it is focusing on Canada, which it says will be its biggest market by 2020, with more than two-thirds of its customers in the U., U..
K., Canada and Australia.
Amazon also is working to add new locations, including a new fulfillment center in Vancouver, where Amazon is currently located, and a second location in London.
And it is expanding its distribution centers in Mexico.
But while Amazon has begun opening stores in Canada as part of the program, it has been reluctant to open stores in the United States, where it has a smaller footprint.
“This is an exciting time to be in Canada because it’s a really fast-growing market,” said Amazon Canada CEO and president of operations Peter Watson.
“But at the end of the day, we need to find the right balance between the safety and the opportunity for our workers and the growth of our business.”
Amazon recently launched a low cost, low risk program in New York City, where its Amazon Prime members make more than a third of the city’s residents, according to the company.
Amazon is expanding the program to more than 40 U.R. regions across the U, and plans to open more than 100 new fulfillment centers across the country in 2018.
“There’s a lot to be done in Canada to get our economy moving again