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Meta has been on a significant hiring spree since announcing its rebranding.DADO RUVIC/Reuters

Facebook owner Meta Platforms Inc. FB-Q says it will hire 2,500 new staff across the country in the next five years, including at a new Toronto engineering hub, with many of the positions expected to be remote.

The new staff will focus on a mix of well-known Meta products such as WhatsApp and Messenger as well as the augmented-reality products the company has said it would develop when it rebranded as Meta last year. Meta said the company has already begun recruitment.

The announcement comes as Canada’s tech sector faces a talent shortage at the same time as a growing global renown. Domestic company executives have warned for years that the country has not been graduating enough students to fill the demand for workers, and the struggle has only grown worse for the sector in the past two years of pandemic-driven remote work.

These Toronto entrepreneurs accidentally helped Facebook’s rebrand to Meta

The new jobs will likely further tighten the market for skilled tech workers in Canada – driving up wages to be more competitive with jurisdictions such as San Francisco and New York, while putting pressure on Canadian companies to match those salaries.

“Projects like these demonstrate that our tech talent no longer has to look elsewhere to pursue their careers,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford said at a press conference at Facebook’s Toronto office at the MaRS Discovery District entrepreneurship hub to announce the new jobs.

Facebook rebranded to Meta last fall as the company faced significant backlash after a whistle-blower provided journalists, politicians and regulators with a series of internal documents and studies about the company including proprietary research that found its services could have detrimental effects on the mental health of adolescents and teens.

At the time, its chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg said he believed the “metaverse” – augmented-reality experiences that allow people to interact more closely than over traditional social networks – would be a key piece of how people interact in the future. The company has said it hopes a billion people use metaverse-related technologies within a decade.

The company has been on a significant hiring spree since announcing its rebranding. In October, Meta said it would hire 10,000 workers in Europe to develop its metaverse vision.

“The metaverse is going to unlock major economic growth potential, not only for creators, but Canadian developers and entrepreneurs, with breakthroughs in technology and increased adoption by consumers in the next decade, said Rachel Curran, Facebook’s Canadian public-policy manager, at the Tuesday announcement.

In an interview, Ms. Curran declined to break down how many positions will be in-person versus how many would be remote. The company currently has offices in Vancouver, Toronto and Ottawa, with an artificial-intelligence research lab in Montreal. The Toronto engineering hub will be at a new location in the city’s downtown, separate from its MaRS office.

By hiring many positions remotely, Facebook will be able to tap into talent beyond those cities. “You can be in rural or Northern Ontario and you can still participate in this burgeoning sector of the economy,” Ms. Curran told The Globe and Mail.

At the press conference, Ms. Curran said “it was not an easy task to convince Meta to invest in Ontario and in Canada,” and credited work by Mr. Ford, Economic Development Minister Vic Fedeli and Kaleed Rasheed, Ontario’s associate minister of digital government, for helping convince the company to build there.

The company also said Tuesday that it would seed $510,000 in research grants to 17 research labs across Canada “that will advance innovation needed to build the metaverse.”

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