Three call centers have closed in recent weeks in Ontario, resulting in nearly 500 layoffs. While service industries are changing, companies are looking to adapt in different ways. What does this mean for employees in the community?
Call centers are not growing as fast as they were in the early 2000s.
The changes have been felt for many years across the country. Some coincide with the increase in Ontario’s minimum wage to $ 14 an hour.
The Freedom Mobile call center in Windsor ceased operations last week . Some 130 people lost their jobs.
The multinational Transcom closed its two offices in Canada, in early March in Brockville and last week in Barrie. 80 and 280 jobs respectively have disappeared.
Relocate its activities
Independent economist Donald Rumball believes that such changes may be related to the recent rise in the minimum wage. Call centers can easily move, he says.
It’s a very easy industry to relocate. When we increase the minimum wage, it affects about 15% of the workforce, so it could affect call centers.
Donald Rumball, Independent Economist
Colin Taylor, the CEO of The Taylor Reach Group, which works with call centers, agrees. He finds that businesses are increasingly moving to other provinces, such as New Brunswick or even the United States, where operating costs are lower.
Economist David Campbell adds that some multinationals pay less than $ 15 an hour and choose their location accordingly.
For its part, Shaw Communications assures that the relocation of its Freedom Mobile call center from Ontario to British Columbia was an “operational decision unrelated to the labor issues in Windsor or the Ontario minimum wage”.
The answer is similar on the Transcom side. Spivak spokesperson assures that the change was made in response to customer demand and for the development of the organizational strategy.
“The company’s strategy is to make the transition to a new model, that of telework,” she explains.
Work from home
Of the 360 employees who have lost their jobs at Transcom, thirty still work for the company directly from home.
Telework is becoming increasingly common in the industry, notes the CEO of The Taylor Reach Group, Colin Taylor.
He argues that this option may be of benefit to both the employer and the worker.
It is estimated that employees can save 15% more by working from home. And the employer no longer has to pay [employee benefits] because employees work on a contract basis.
Colin Taylor, CEO, The Taylor Reach Group
Taylor says he has seen an increase in the number of home agents in the last 15 years. More and more companies, according to him, are trying to set up such an organizational model.
The future of call centers
Should the employees of the different call centers in the country worry about their future? Not quite, according to economist David Campbell, who has done a lot of work on the subject.
Where he should be concerned, it is rather the outsourced call centers. Offices that carry out activities through other firms. The employment rate in Canada is declining, unlike firms that provide services in-house and provide immediate and specialized support to clients.
For example, if you need help with your computer, banking information, bookings, these industries will continue to grow.
David Campbell, economist
He cites travel agencies, banks and emergency services as 911, which are not threatened by the various technological changes, he says.