Waterloo mayor 'optimistic' despite BlackBerry job cuts

The City of Waterloo is concerned about upcoming BlackBerry layoffs, but ultimately optimistic, according to Mayor Brenda Halloran.

The City of Waterloo is concerned about upcoming BlackBerry layoffs, but ultimately optimistic, says Mayor Brenda Halloran.

"Across the board we're all feeling the same, we're very concerned for our families, but we're very optimistic about the opportunities that are ahead for them in our community," Halloran said in an interview with Craig Norris on The Morning Edition Monday.

On Friday, BlackBerry confirmed it would be cutting 4,500 jobs – or 40 per cent of its global workforce. It's not clear how many of those jobs will be cut in at BlackBerry headquarters in Waterloo. It also said it expected to post losses of nearly $1 billion when it releases its second-quarter earnings report this week. 

"The provincial government is going to be providing more support," said Halloran, specifying that the provincial government had already been giving assistance over the past year, helping laid-off employees relocate and retrain.

"What we have found over the past year is that because there are so many opportunities and jobs available in the high tech sector, that a lot of people seem to be able to be reabsorbed and find opportunities as they're leaving BlackBerry," she said.

According to tech incubator Communitech, there are approximately 1,000 available tech jobs available in Waterloo Region, though Halloran said that number could be closer to 1,500.

"One of the biggest concerns I've heard for a long time is from the high tech sector and their availability to find highly skilled people for the jobs that are vacant right now," she said.

"They're saying as the talent is becoming available from BlackBerry it has been very beneficial to them, because they're able to get the people they've been looking for and needing to fill the jobs that have been going vacant for a long time." 

According to Communitech, there are approximately 30,000 people working in the high tech sector in the region – and BlackBerry has between 5-6,000 employees locally. 

"It has been a difficult announcement but the community's quite well-poised to deal with it, to support our families who have been affected and we're all working together on this," said Halloran.


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