Telecommunications Industry Contributed up to $70.7 Billion to the Canadian Economy and Supported Almost 600,000 Jobs in 2020, According to New Report

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Study also shows that notwithstanding the economic downturn in 2020, the telecommunications industry invested more than $11 billion in infrastructure innovation and expansion and introduced measures to help Canadians stay connected during the COVID-19 pandemic.

OTTAWA; November 15, 2021 – Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada’s telecommunications industry performed in line with the overall economy and maintained its share of overall Canadian GDP output estimated last year. In a report commissioned by the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA), Accenture estimates that, despite a 5.4% contraction in the Canadian economy in 2020, the telecommunications industry contributed up to $70.7 billion to GDP while supporting almost 600,000 jobs.

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of connectivity for Canadian society, business, and the economy. With sustained, accelerated growth in digital traffic, Canada’s facilities-based operators continued to invest in building additional capacity and further upgrading and expanding critical telecommunications infrastructure and services, setting the stage for a resilient and sustainable economic recovery post-pandemic.

Throughout the pandemic, four key trends emerged which further highlighted the importance of telecommunication services:

  • Pivot towards the digital economy,
  • a decline in city-centric living,
  • the advent of unconventional ways to socialize,
  • and the rise of remote working.

In addition to its macro-economic contributions and the increasing importance of connectivity to Canadians, the telecommunications industry introduced a multitude of measures to help Canadians stay connected following the outbreak of COVID-19 and made direct contributions to charities, not-for-profits, and disadvantaged communities.

“The telecommunications industry has played a key role in keeping Canadians connected since the outbreak of COVID-19 and it is clear that Canada’s high quality digital infrastructure has been crucial in sustaining economic and social activity across the country,” said Robert Ghiz, president and CEO of the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association. “Despite the economic headwinds of 2020, Canada’s telecom operators continued to invest billions of dollars to expand and upgrade Canada’s telecommunications infrastructure, and provided additional support to Canadians dealing with the hardships of COVID-19.”

Key findings of the report:

  • GDP contribution and jobs supported by the telecommunications industry and increased connectivity across other industries were estimated to be up to $70.7 billion and up to 596,000 jobs, respectively, in 2020
  • More broadly, the industry influenced up to 3.14% of overall Canadian GDP in 2020
  • The rise in new connections for telecommunications services generated increases in sales across other industries in Canada valued at $47.9 billion in GDP contributions (including, for instance, $6.4 billion in incremental output in health care)
  • This economic contribution was driven by the telecommunications industry’s sustained and significant capital investment in 2020, with more than $11 billion invested in wireless and wireline connectivity
  • In 2020, service providers invested approximately $12B in employee salaries and benefits, providing over 120,000 high quality jobs to individual Canadians who in-turn contribute to the Canadian economy by exercising their purchasing power and through payment of taxes
  • Service providers supported Canada through an estimated $6.8 billion in taxes, which help fund government services such as social assistance, healthcare, infrastructure and public safety
  • Service providers contributed over $245 million to charities and not-for-profits

“From health care professionals delivering virtual care to patients, to parents across the nation safely supporting their children with virtual learning while balancing working from home, telecommunications allowed Canadians to stay connected as well as economically and socially empowered during COVID-19,” said Tejas Rao, a managing director in Accenture Cloud First’s wireless services practice. “The pandemic highlighted how critical connectivity was for Canadians, business, and the economy.”

These trends all contributed to ensuring that the telecommunications industry maintained its annual contribution to the Canadian economy despite an overall economic downturn. According to the report, as the world reopens and the Canadian economy returns to growth, the telecommunications industry will further enhance its economic contributions, contribute to reducing Canada’s carbon footprint, and help fuel Canada’s digital evolution.

A copy of the report, entitled, “Connecting Canadians during COVID-19: The impact of the wireless and wireline industry in 2020 and beyond,” can be found here.

About CWTA:

CWTA is the authority on wireless issues, developments and trends in Canada. It represents companies that provide services and products across the wireless sector. CWTA also administers a number of initiatives on behalf of its members, including corporate social responsibility programs and the national common short codes program.

Media enquiries:
Guy Gallant
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