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The future for Call Center Industry In Canada

Just saw this article on CBC.ca
As a call center consultant at a call center consulting firm, I am frequently asked to comment on the health of the call and contact centre industry in Canada. The environment today does have some glimmers of hope; such as the Convergys announcement of 120 new jobs, Telelink announcing 40 more jobs in St John’s and Swinton announcing 65 in Nova Scotia, but the industry is still recovering from significant contraction that occurred due to the double whammy of the recession and increased strength of the Canadian dollar.
Many call centres in Canada serve the United States market and these centres saw job cuts as a result of the recession in the US and significantly increased operational expenses as a result of the strengthening of the Canadian dollar. The political backlash in the US of outsourcing and specifically off-shoring has lead to protectionist activities and the establishment of outsource agencies in the US that state their mission as ‘bringing jobs back to the US”. This political pressure has caused US firms to reassess their Canadian call centres. Some of the victims of these factors have been Convergys which whose call centre in Winnipeg closed impacting 500 people earlier this year, Minacs closure in Nova Scotia impacting 200 people. Both of these firms are outsource or BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) firms and serve customers internationally. It is not outsources who are facing challenges; Canwest outsourced 300 jobs from Winnipeg to the Dominican Republic and Bell Aliant closed a number of call centres in Atlantic Canada.
As the recovery sputters along we will hopefully continue to see glimmers of hope in terms of new hiring in the call centre industry, but I expect most of these to be to serve domestic customers; the US is still far from a real recovery and faced with a weak economy, increased costs of operating in Canada and political pressure to repatriate jobs to the US and this will lead to additional closures and layoffs in the call centre industry.

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