How many (or few) Canadians does Microsoft plan on hiring?

Microsoft’s contested reliance on temporary foreign workers and the transit referendum you haven’t heard about

Temporary foreign software engineers
How many of the 400 future employees at Microsoft’s new bluechip office in downtown Vancouver will be Canadian? No more than a handful—or at least according to documents obtained by the CBC. The Microsoft Centre for Excellence, an engineering office above the Pacific Centre set to open next year, will be required to employ no more than 20 Canadians, or so stipulates correspondence between Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the B.C. Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training. The vast majority of workers will come in through the Temporary Foreign Worker program or via intra-company transfers from Microsoft offices outside of North America. In an interview with BCBusiness last year, Microsoft Canada president Janet Kennedy said that the company plans on hiring “distinguished engineers from all around the world, including Canada.”  Kennedy went on to say that she hopes the office will attract “global engineering talent that comes and wants to stay.” You can read more about Microsoft’s Vancouver plans here. 

Planes, trains and automobiles
The provincial government’s 10-year, $2.5-billion transportation plan, announced Tuesday, is “little more than a collection of nice pictures and vague agreements,” opined a statement from the NDP about the plan. It did, in fact, include few new projects. The plan, which includes adding lanes to the Trans-Canada highway east of Langley and upgrading road infrastructure in the Okanagan, northern B.C. and Vancouver Island, had less to say on transit. The government committed to paying for one-third of future rapid transit projects, “provided they can be accommodated within the provincial fiscal plan and the investments are supported by a business case.”

That other transit vote
There’s a transit referendum coming up—but probably not where you think. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray mused Wednesday that the city might but a property tax levee on the referendum in November to pay for a $900-million transportation plan. But don’t expect an extended monorail or a SkyTrain style line cutting through the heart of Seattle: the considerably modest plan includes new rapid bus corridors, an upgrade to the city’s bike network and a handful of new light-rail stations.