Canadian Multinationals Ireland Expansion

Canadian Multinationals in Ireland plan to expand workforce, increase wages, and introduce hybrid work model

  • Ahead of Canada Day on July 1st, The Ireland Canada Business Association has released the results of its annual ICBA Member Sentiment Survey. Respondents to the 2021 survey employ almost 50,000 people across Ireland and Canada.
  • The majority plan to invest in their workforce this year through salary increases, wellbeing & upskilling initiatives, and hiring more staff. More flexible work models to be introduced.
  • Calls on government to introduce more supports to facilitate remote working, more affordable housing for staff, and to become more environmentally sustainable.

In this survey, ICBA members representing Canada’s leading enterprises have given their views on the following key issues:

  1. Why Canadian multinationals choose Ireland
  2. Obstacles to further expansion in Ireland
  3. Planned investment in their workforce in Ireland
  4. Covid & the future of work and the workplace
  5. ESG / Sustainability
  6. CETA trade deal

The ICBA, who counts among its membership Air Canada, Shopify, PressReader, Irish Life, TD Bank, Bank of Montreal, Greenfield Global, Soti, and TELUS International, released the results of its membership survey to coincide with Canada Day, the country’s globally-celebrated national Birth Day (Thursday  July 1st).

  1. Why Canadian Multinationals choose Ireland:

Canadian multinationals are increasingly choosing Ireland as a base for their European operations, with the number doubling since Brexit was first passed. Indeed for the first time in the history of the survey, members cited ‘Access to the European Market’ as the number one reason they chose to establish in Ireland. The number of jobs provided by Canadian companies in Ireland has grown by 25% since 2018 to over 15,000. The next most popular reasons include Ireland’s competitive tax regime, the availability of talent, and the close cultural connections enjoyed by both countries.

  1. Obstacles to further expansion:

However, further expansion of these companies in Ireland is being hampered by the intense competition for talent, followed closely by salary costs and Ireland’s high cost of living.

Ireland’s housing crisis is a key area of concern – over 85% of respondents do not believe the government is doing enough to support their staff in the current housing market, with the vast majority calling for further government interventions to boost housing supply and affordability in Ireland.

  1. Investment in the workforce

In a very positive show of support for their future plans in Ireland, 70% of respondents intend to increase their workforce this year and 67% plan to increase wages. Beyond salary increases, the key priorities are for investment are well-being (54%) and upskilling (35%).

  1. COVID-19 & The Future of Work

The vast majority (80%) of Canadian multinationals in Ireland believe the Irish government has adequately supported businesses through the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Just over a quarter of respondents plan to reduce office space as a result of COVID - 19 and when asked to describe how their staff will work post-pandemic:

  • 42% say staff will work 3 days in the office and 2 days remote.
  • 27% - 2 days in office, 3 days remote.
  • 8% - 4 days remote, 1 day in office.
  • 4% - 1 day remote, 4 days in office.
  • 4% - full return to 5 days in office.
  • 15% - are unsure of plans as yet.

None of the respondents plan to facilitate the permanent remote working of staff, however several identified how such a working model could and should be supported by government, suggesting that many would allow their staff work remote if the right supports were in place. Increased tax reliefs for remote workers and better broadband topped the list of suggestions. Others include:

  • Encourage (as per HR legislation) better "off line" behaviours by employers to ensure that contact with employees out of working hours is better managed.
  • Remote working considerations for employees working in other countries for Ireland office from a legal and tax perspective
  • A clear, transparent tax credit based on costs
  • Update the tax code so that PPR (principal private residence CGT relief) isn't diminished because home used for hybrid/remote working
  • The setting up of community remote working hubs in small towns and villages where a desk can be rented online for a few hours or ad hoc days so that social isolation for remote workers can be mitigated.
  1. ESG / Sustainability:

60% of respondents believe the Irish government should be doing more to help them become more environmentally sustainable. 70% of respondents plan to invest in ESG initiatives (Environmental, Social, and Governance) in 2021

  1. The CETA Trade deal

84% of respondents support the ratification of CETA - a major trade deal between Canada and the EU that will lift a number of barriers to trade between both economies. The Ireland Canada Business Association has been campaigning strongly for CETA’s ratification by government, as failure to do so will hamper Ireland’s post-Covid recovery and send the wrong signal to other investors about Ireland’s openness to doing business.

Last year alone, Ireland enjoyed a trade surplus of €1.7bn with Canada, with €2.1bn of Irish goods being exported to the country. There is no Irish businessperson who, if they were making €1.7 bn more than their partner as the result of a provisional agreement, would not formalize that agreement as quickly as possible.

Fifteen other Members States have already ratified CETA, leaving Ireland in the position of now playing catch-up with its EU counterparts.

Chris Collenette, Chair of the Ireland Canada Business Association:

“Our survey clearly shows how committed our members are to staying and investing in Ireland, despite the challenges of the Covid pandemic. These major multinationals want to continue to provide employment, increase wages and build economic and cultural bonds between our two nations. And with Brexit, the strong performance of the CETA trade agreement so far, and the opening of dedicated IDA and Enterprise Ireland offices in Canada, the opportunities for Ireland are immense.

But in order to continue to grow in Ireland, Canadian multinationals need a competitive business environment and their Irish workforces need greater support. Our members have identified lack of housing, cost of living, and competition for talent as major barriers to growth, and would also like to see more support from government in challenging areas like environmental sustainability and facilitating remote working among staff.

The Ireland Canada Business Association believes that, by addressing these key issues on a national level, Ireland can take advantage of the huge economic opportunities we have as a result of our unique position as the gateway to Europe.”

Chris Collenette is available for further comment and interview on 086 6021736

Further Info: Patrick Haughey, ICBA Media Relations 087 2394054

About the ICBA:

The ICBA is the voice of the Ireland Canada Business community. Our membership is  composed of chief executives and senior management of Canada’s leading enterprises who have located their European operations in Ireland. Since 1978 we have been connecting  executives and organizations in Canada and Ireland for the purpose of  bilateral investment, trade and entrepreneurship. As a membership organization, our members make our mission possible. They span over 20 business sectors and directly and indirectly support more than 20,000 jobs across the country and hundreds of small businesses. Our partnerships with the Canadian Embassy and the Ireland Canada Chambers informs our work


Ireland Canada Business Association


The Ireland Canada Business Association (ICBA) represents some of the largest Canadian companies in Ireland including Air Canada, Shopify, Irving Oil, Canada Life (Irish Life), TD Bank, Bank of Montreal, Scotia Bank, Vermillion Energy, PressReader, Greenfield Global, IMAX, Optel Group, and SOTI.

Ireland and Canada enjoy an incredibly strong economic, political, and historical relationship. The number of jobs provided by Canadian companies in Ireland has grown by 25% since 2018 to over 15,000. The number of new Canadian companies expanding into Ireland has more than doubled since Brexit was passed and now stands at 75 operational companies. For the past three years, Ireland has enjoyed a trading surplus with Canada of over €1.2 billion with over 6000 Irish companies exporting to Canada. The ICBA is uniquely placed to point to the supports and initiatives required to underpin this successful relationship and ensure that it continues to grow and thrive.

In this context, the ICBA pre-budget Submission: Budget 2021 comprises four key pillars (Trade, Sustainability, Connectivity, and Housing) and is centered around supporting Ireland’s post-Covid recovery and future growth.



The Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) is a free-trade agreement between Canada and the European Union. It removes 98% of customer duties, ends restrictions on open access to public procurement contracts, opens the services market, and delivers many other benefits for Canadian companies doing business in Europe and Irish companies doing business in Canada.

CETA entered into force provisionally on 21 September 2017, meaning most of the agreement now applies. However, national parliaments in EU countries need to approve CETA before it can take full effect. 14 EU Member States have already ratified the deal, but Ireland has yet to do so. The ICBA believes that the ongoing delay to fully ratify CETA is short sighted and can only have negative economic consequences for Ireland.

Canada is a highly important trading partner for Ireland. In recent years, Ireland has enjoyed a trade surplus of as much as €1.2 billion with Canada, with over €2 billion in exports from Irish companies being sent to Canada. CETA has already fuelled more than 30% rise in the value of goods traded between Ireland and Canada.

Moreover, a recent survey of ICBA members, including some of the largest Canadian, and Canadian-owned companies in Ireland revealed that 70% of respondents plan to hire more staff and 62% are set to increase wages. While that was pre-Covid-19, it shows the investment sentiment is solid.

Failure to ratify CETA is an avoidable threat to the valuable Ireland-Canada relationship and may hamper Ireland’s post-Covid-19 recovery and further expose the country’s economy to the impact of Brexit. As part of Ireland’s budgetary strategy for 2021, the ICBA is calling on the new government to ‘get CETA over the line’ and pass it through Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann as soon as possible.


Almost 60% of ICBA members surveyed believe policy makers are not doing enough to support businesses in becoming more environmentally sustainable. Sustainability is a key pillar in the strategies of Ireland’s largest employers and one that customers, clients, and employees increasing want to see prioritised urgently.

The Irish Government has made significant commitments in the National Development Plan (in the form of capital expenditure) and in key policy statements around green energy, all of which give due credit and importance to sustainability. Budget 2021 must prioritise the delivery of these commitments, particularly with the Green Party now in government. Ireland needs to be known for delivery expertise in this area.

Canada has shown leadership in the creation of strategies and funding programs at a national and provincial level, as well as the provision of grass roots funding for projects in municipalities.

For example:

• The Canadian Supercluster initiative is $950 million funding program announced in 2017 to support five business-led innovation clusters to drive economic growth, includes initiatives supporting environmental sustainability.

• The Digital Technology Supercluster includes projects focused on environmental sustainability (Protecting Our Oceans and Satellite-Based Environmental Analytics are two projects that deploy state-of-the-art digital solutions to address two challenges created by climate change: the collection of accurate imaging to monitor the effects of climate change, and protecting our wild fisheries by monitoring our oceans.

• The Ocean Supercluster includes a focus on initiatives that support resilience and sustainability of Canada’s ocean economy.

Creative and comprehensive funding programmes such as these lead to innovative thinking and action around reducing waste, conserving energy, constructing green buildings, creating alternatives to driving, fostering green leadership, and much more. Domestic and multinational companies and their employees, in the main, want to accelerate their ability to operate successfully but in a sustainable manner. We call on government to use Budget 2021 as an opportunity to support them in this goal.


Since 2018 the number of jobs provided by Canadian companies in Ireland has grown by 25% to over 15,000 and the number of new Canadian companies expanding into Ireland has more than doubled since Brexit was passed. Today, Irish companies employ over 6,000 people across Canada and over 600 Irish companies export to Canada. Canada is Ireland’s 12th largest trading partner and the 4th largest outside of the EU.

Key to the growth of the economic relationship between our two countries has been the growth in direct air connectivity between Ireland and Canada over recent years. Since 2018 seasonal summer services from Shannon-Toronto and Dublin-Halifax, Calgary, Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto have been operational on 3 Canadian carriers in addition to year-round service from Dublin-Toronto on one Irish and one Canadian carrier. From a business perspective year-round connectivity is vital.

As a direct consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic there is currently only one Canadian based carrier (Air Canada) offering a much-reduced service on the Dublin-Toronto route. It must be noted that air connectivity is not only vital in a business context for the transport of corporate travellers, but also for the transportation of air cargo, much of which is concentrated in high value medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, electronic, engineering components and perishable items such as high value seafood. From an airline cost-perspective the most stable routes are able to provide a good balance between cargo and passengers and many cargo shipping agents rely on a stable scheduled service to provide certainty of the carriage of time sensitive goods.

In this context, we are calling on Government to continue to support the delivery of key strategic infrastructure at Dublin Airport in Budget 2021, specifically the construction of North Runway at Dublin Airport. As we know from our experience of the last downturn (during which Terminal 2 was opened), having the infrastructure in place to facilitate a return to growth is very important. DAA is proceeding fully with the North Runway and will also be making a planning application later in the year for other airport capacity projects such as parking stands.

Covid has had a significant impact on the aviation sector and consequently on the finances of organisations such as DAA who are tasked with developing the infrastructure to grow Irelands’ connectivity. A recent report from the Taskforce for Aviation Recovery set up by the Government recommended that:

"Government should enable a liquidity initiative for the aviation sector….It should include offerings similar to those made available by other European Governments such as guarantees, credit lines and underpins for interest rates, in line with pre-Covid levels…. a Pandemic Recovery Initiative should help address sustainable developments in operations and physical infrastructure".

This report is currently being considered by Cabinet and we call on Government to introduce the supports necessary to keep Ireland’s connectivity at the heart of the country’s recovery and future growth strategies.

Regional air links between Ireland and Canada must also be supported to return to airports such as Shannon and investigations conducted into the viability of a Cork air route as companies are increasingly looking to locate outside of the Dublin region and in particular the Mid-West and Southern regions. The availability of more cost-effective, modern and smaller aircraft over the past 2-3 years makes regional transatlantic services more viable and would also have the added advantage of encouraging inbound Canadian tourism outside of the Dublin region.


The ICBA regularly surveys members and, consistently, these multinational companies point to the cost of housing and rent as major barriers to their further expansion in Ireland. While remote work is a real trend and will have some positive impacts for repopulation of rural Ireland in particular, we believe that supply of sustainable long-term housing development is a critical necessity for Dublin and Ireland alike.

Adequate and affordable housing is key to the FDI model. Availability of talent, employee retention and welfare are key criteria stipulated by multinationals when starting and evolving operations in Ireland. In this context, the ICBA would like to see Budget 2021 prioritise the incentivising of the construction of housing (including urban regeneration) in new and innovative ways. Ireland needs to explore new models of housing delivery, investment, and ownership.


CETA will benefit people across Ireland by:
• Scrapping customs tariffs for Irish exporters and importers
• Creating new opportunities for Irish farmers and agri-food producers
• Opening up the Canadian services market to Irish firms
• Enabling Irish firms to bid for more public contracts in Canada
• Making it easier for Irish professionals to work in Canada
• Encouraging more investment between Ireland and Canada
• Helping Ireland's small businesses export more to Canada

Under CETA, tariffs have been eliminated on virtually all of Ireland’s exports to Canada. These include Ireland’s main exports to Canada:

• Chemicals and Plastics – Irish exports to Canada of €633 million in 2019 (with many pre-CETA Canadian MFN tariffs as much as 6.5% compared to CETA duty-free preferential access.

• Information and communication technology (ICT) products and consumer electronics – Irish exports to Canada of €18 million in 2019 (with some pre-CETA Canadian MFN tariffs from 5% to 14% compared to CETA duty-free preferential access.

In the Agriculture and Agri-food sector, Irish exports to Canada totalled €122 million ($181 million) in 2019. Irish exporters now benefit from tariff elimination on key products such as:

• Liqueur and Cordials – Irish exports to Canada of €65 million (with some items facing pre-CETA Canadian MFN tariffs of 12.28¢/litre of absolute ethyl alcohol) and

• Food preparations for infants – Irish exports to Canada of €6 million (mostly with heavy pre-CETA Canadian MFN tariffs).

Ireland also benefits from increased access to the Canadian cheese market. Now that CETA is provisionally applied, two new annual import quotas, or TRQs, for EU cheese are in place: 2,667 tonnes for non-industrial cheese and 283 tonnes for industrial cheese. Over the subsequent five years these volumes will grow to permanent TRQs of 16,000 tonnes and 1,700 tonnes, respectively.

Government Procurement

Beyond tariffs, Canada’s government procurement market, with an estimated value of up to $163 billion (€119 billion) annually, will be of interest to Irish companies, particularly opportunities at the sub-federal level. Canada’s government procurement commitments in CETA are the most ambitious the EU has ever received from any negotiating partner.

Ireland exported €455 million ($676 million) in pharmaceutical products to Canada in 2019.

As a globally significant producer and exporter of pharmaceutical products, Ireland benefits from CETA’s commitments in this area including: a new period of protection of up to two years for patented pharmaceuticals, a commitment to ensure that all litigants are afforded an effective right of appeal under Canada’s patent linkage regime, and a commitment reflecting Canada’s internationally competitive practice of offering eight years of data protection.

• Chris Collenette, Chair, Ireland Canada Business Association 086 6021736
• Patrick Haughey, ICBA Media Relations 087 2394054

Trade with Canada key to post-COVID-19 economic recovery and mitigation against Brexit

Ireland should not be the last EU country to ratify CETA, says trade association.

Ahead of Canada Day this Wednesday July 1st, The Ireland Canada Business Association (ICBA) is calling on the new government to ratify a hugely important trade deal between Europe and Canada. Failure to sign the agreement could hamper Ireland’s post-COVID-19 recovery and further expose the country’s economy to the impact of Brexit.

In recent years, Ireland enjoyed a trade surplus of as much as 726M EUR with Canada, with €1.4bn of Irish goods being exported to the country.

The Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) removes 98% of customer duties, ends restrictions on open access to public procurement contracts, opens the services market, and delivers many other benefits for Canadian companies doing business in Europe and Canadian companies doing business in Canada. 13 other Member States have already ratified the deal, with Ireland now playing catch-up.

The ICBA represents some of the largest Canadian, and Canadian-owned companies in Ireland including Air Canada, Shopify, Irving Oil, Canada Life (Irish Life), TD Bank, Bank of Montreal, Scotia Bank, Vermillion Energy, PressReader, Greenfield Global, IMAX, and Voxpro (TELUS International). The number of jobs provided by Canadian companies in Ireland has grown by 25% since 2018 to over 15,000 and the number of new Canadian companies expanding into Ireland has more than doubled since Brexit was passed.

The ICBA believes that such a successful and valuable relationship must be nurtured and supported, and the association is calling on the new government to ‘get it over the line’ and pass CETA through Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann as soon as possible.

Chris Collenette, Chair of the ICBA:

“The IMF, Central Bank and ESRI all predict a dramatic fall in economic activity. Ireland, as a small and exposed economy, is particularly sensitive to the impact of a global recession. The economic fallout of Brexit will only compound this blow. Regardless of what comes over the next few months, two things are true. First, the new government has its work cut out to help the economy recover, and second, as an export driven economy, we will need to increase our trade internationally.

CETA has already fueled a more than 30% rise in the value of goods trade between Ireland and Canada. However, Ireland, which, post-Brexit, will be the only English speaking jurisdiction in the EU, is now behind Austria, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden to formally ratify the deal with Canada, predominantly an English speaking country.

Just prior to COVID-19 hitting the country, we commissioned a survey of our members, including some of the largest Canadian, and Canadian-owned companies in Ireland. 70% of respondents had planned to hire more staff and 62% are set to increase wages. While that was pre-COVID19, it shows the investment sentiment is solid. Ireland is pushing an open door when it comes to attracting Canadian companies.

With a new Irish consulate in Vancouver, a new IDA office in Toronto, and a new EI office in Montreal ((in addition to the existing one in Toronto), the last government made significant progress developing this valuable relationship. Ratifying CETA through the Dail is really the last piece of the Canadian-Ireland puzzle and we are calling on the new government to do the right thing and ratify this deal as a priority”.

Chris Collenette is a Canadian who has lived in Dublin for over 12 years.
He is Consultant to Dublin law firm Philip Lee, and resident director of two Canadian companies with operations in Ireland.
He previously served as an advisor to the Prime Minister of Canada, the Minister of Industry, and the Minister of Health.
Chris Collenette is available for further comment and interview on 086 6021736

Further Info: Patrick Haughey, ICBA Media Relations 087 2394054

Canada-Ireland relationship by the numbers, some supporting facts.

Companies and Jobs
• 616: The number of Irish companies that export to Canada.
• 25,000: The number of jobs in Ireland that EU exports to Canada help support.
• 15,000: The number of employees of Canadian companies in Ireland.
• Companies across Ireland export goods and services to Canada, for example:
• Ballymote, Co. Sligo – hockey sticks, healthcare products, computer parts.
• Swords, Co. Dublin – Air Condition Parts, Whey, Forklift Trucks
• Cork, Co. Cork – Tea, Medical Equipment, Cheese

Exports and Imports
• In goods, Canada is Ireland's 7th biggest trade partner outside the EU.
• €726 m - The value of Ireland's trade surplus with Canada.
• €1.4 bn - The value of Irish exports to Canada.
• €662 m - The value of Irish imports from Canada.

Canadian Employers in Ireland
• Galway – Celestica,
• Limerick – Optel,
• Cork – Open Text, eSentire, Irving,
• Dublin – Canada Life, TD Bank, BMO, Scotia Bank, Brown Thomas, Teknicor, ISC, Pressreader, Voxpro, RX Source
• Laois – Greenfield Global
• Mayo: Vermilion Energy
• Across Ireland – Shopify employs over 300 employees in Ireland working remotely.

About the ICBA:

The Ireland Canada Business Association is the representative voice of over 100 Canadian companies doing business between the two countries, 70 of which are Canadian co’s with Irish operations. 2018 marked the association’s 40-year anniversary. It has the mandate of promoting and developing trade and industrial links between Ireland and Canada.

The Patron of the Association is the Canadian Ambassador to Ireland. The ICBA has the active participation of Ireland and Canada’s most prominent business leaders as its core supporters and influencers. It is strongly affiliated with the Ireland Canada Chambers of Commerce in Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver

Article by Irish Ambassador to Canada Mr. Jim Kelly – 17 March 2020

Today is St Patrick’s Day, when Irish people celebrate our heritage and culture, together with our diaspora and friends around the world. In Canada, where one-seventh of the population claims Irish heritage, this special day recalls the deep historical connection between our countries, going back to the 16th century, when Irish fishermen first came to the Grand Banks off Newfoundland.

In the following centuries, generations of Irish people came to seek a new life in Canada, many fleeing famine, economic deprivation or political oppression. Canada welcomed Irish people with generosity, and in turn they helped shape Canada, from Confederation to the present day. Their contribution is commemorated in the names of streets and towns across the country, and their positive influence is found in all walks of Canadian life.

We are fortunate to be able to build on the sturdy foundation of our common history. Today, we are forging an ever closer partnership based on shared values and interests, which our Taoiseach Leo Varadkar articulated when welcoming Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Ireland in 2017:

“ … In an increasingly uncertain world, Ireland and Canada share the same outlook. We are like-minded. We believe in multilateralism, free trade, respect for personal liberty, the value of diversity, the benefits of migration, the need for climate action and openness to the world”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, shakes hands with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, at Farmleigh House, in Dublin, in a July 4, 2017, file photo.  PAUL FAITH/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

The years since have seen rapid advances in that partnership, with strong growth in our bilateral trade, investment and tourism. This is all the more notable when set against the background of a turbulent period in international relations.

Two key developments have acted as catalysts for progress. The first is the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). By virtually eliminating trade tariffs and reducing regulatory barriers, CETA has created improved, more predictable trading conditions for business. The response has been dramatic. In the first year after the provisional implementation of CETA, the value of bilateral merchandise trade between our countries grew by close to 30 per cent.

The second, perhaps surprisingly, is Brexit.

Brexit presented significant political and economic challenges for Ireland, and continues to do so. The EU-U.K. Withdrawal Agreement meets our primary concern to safeguard peace and prosperity by avoiding any return to a hard border on the island of Ireland, while maintaining the Common Travel Area between Ireland and Britain, and protecting continuing North-South co-operation. In the upcoming negotiations, we will work with partners for the closest possible EU-U.K. relationship based on a balance of rights and responsibilities, including level playing field provisions for fair competition.

However, we know that in all scenarios Brexit will mean considerable change for our businesses trading with a U.K. outside the EU Single Market and Customs Union. We are preparing extensively for Brexit and have put measures in place over several budgets to support key sectors exposed to the British market, and to incentivize diversification. Even as Brexit presents ongoing challenges at home, however, it offers significant opportunities for the Ireland-Canada relationship. With CETA making it easier for companies to establish presences and invest in our respective jurisdictions, and Brexit driving diversification of our trade, Canada is a key target market for Irish business. Already, Canada is the 10th-largest market globally for Irish exports, while our companies are employing increasing numbers here in Canada in financial services, life sciences, business-to-business software and construction products.

Many Canadian companies and investors in financial services, technology and other sectors now look to Ireland’s unique offering as a culturally compatible, English-speaking, common-law country with barrier-free access to the 450 million consumers of the EU Single Market. With a business-friendly environment, a highly educated workforce and an economy averaging growth of four to five per cent per annum, Ireland provides the perfect gateway to the EU for Canadian business.

Since St. Patrick’s Day 2017, 21 members of our government have visited Canada in support of the growing bilateral relationship. In 2019, our government published its strategy to double our impact in Canada by 2025. To deliver this strategy, new resources have been provided to Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland, our export and investment promotion agencies, as well as Tourism Ireland, whose efforts have seen Canada rise to become the No. 6 market globally for tourism into Ireland. Just over a year ago, we opened a new diplomatic consulate in Vancouver – our first new diplomatic office in Canada in 80 years. A second such consulate is due to be opened in Toronto in the next two years.

These are exciting developments at a moment of unique opportunity in our relations and demonstrate Ireland’s commitment to seize that moment. In these testing times, Ireland-Canada relations provide a welcome good news story, and one worth celebrating on this St Patrick’s Day.

Published: Globe and Mail, 17 March 2020

Brexit will attract investors to Ireland, says Canadian business leader

Goldy Hyder says firms seeking stability want to avoid ‘short-term pain’ of UK’s exit

Brexit will present a “tremendous opportunity for Ireland” to attract investors concerned about the “short-term pain” facing the UK, the head of Canada’s most powerful business lobby group has said.

Goldy Hyder, president of the Business Council of Canada, which represents the chief executives of 150 large Canadian companies, said Ireland becoming the only English-speaking country in Europe under the EU-Canadian free trade agreement after Brexit made the State “an attractive destination for capital and talent”.

As the UK endures the “pain” of leaving the EU, Ireland could draw more investment from businesses in Canada that are looking for certainty in the political and business world, said Mr Hyder on a visit to Dublin.

“Businesses take a view of who offers me, as a business, the predictable, stable regulatory environment and also an environment that is attractive from the tax and talent side, and the Irish story is a very strong one,” said Mr Hyder, who represents companies accounting for half the value of Toronto’s stock exchange.

Ireland’s “resilience and rebound culture” in the decade since the financial crash and its embrace of an entrepreneurial culture, trade and multiculturalism “bode well for Ireland to be a magnet for both capital and talent” at a time when many other parts of the world were “going in other directions”, he said.

“If Ireland was a stock, I would buy. It’s probably ‘buy low’ right now still. I don’t think Ireland has achieved its full potential,” said Mr Hyder, who spoke at the annual Maple Leaf dinner of the Ireland Canada Business Association on Friday night.

Brexit an ‘anomaly’

Visiting Dublin after three days in the UK, which included a meeting at 10 Downing Street, Mr Hyder said Brexit was “unfortunate” and he hoped it was “an anomaly” while the world was breaking down into large trading blocs that provided businesses with predictability, certainty and confidence in markets.

Speaking a day after the EU and UK reached agreement on a new Brexit deal, he said he was “very pleased” to see the Irish-UK relationship remaining strong even on a bilateral rather than multilateral basis.

“Don’t short the UK,” he said, referring to the market bet against a share. “There may well be some short-term pain, but even their slogan – keep calm and carry on – has a certain applicability in this situation for them. There is a resilience and a resolve to continue.”

Mr Hyder expects the Conservatives to push for a UK-Canada free trade deal if Andrew Scheer unseats Canada’s liberal prime minister, Justin Trudeau, in Monday’s election.

He urged the Irish Government to ratify the EU-Canada trade deal, known as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, or Ceta, as soon as possible to give business “confidence” in the deal.

Asked about Aer Lingus’s postponement of a new Dublin-Montreal air route because of the unavailability of new aircraft, Mr Hyder said Canadian airlines Air Canada and WestJet had established routes with Ireland and that these routes would lead to the launch of more to serve growing tourism between the countries.

“I think tourism is going to see a significant bump. It’s just natural,” he said.

Source: The Irish Times, 19 October 2019 - Simon Carswell, Public Affairs Editor

Canada presents a significant opportunity for the Irish economy – ICBA

Kate Hickey, Executive Director, Ireland Canada Business Association (ICBA)

A delegation of the Ireland Canada Business Association (ICBA) recently returned from a high-level business mission to Canada. The mission coincided with a meeting in Paris between Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau, where Brexit, Northern Ireland and CETA were discussed.

Ireland and Canada already enjoy close bilateral business connections and the purpose of the ICBA mission was to further strengthen those ties and capitalise on the opportunities that Brexit, CETA, and NAFTA renegotiations present.

The ICBA mission revealed that Canada’s business and political leaders firmly believe in the vast potential of the Canada / Ireland relationship. With further efforts on a governmental level, a number of opportunities can be capitalised upon. They include:

  1. Canada’s desire to do more business with Ireland

Meetings held with the Board of Trade in Toronto and Quebec trade development agencies highlighted the attractiveness of the Irish market for Canadian businesses looking to export beyond the US. There is an opportunity for Ireland to showcase its attractive business environment across Canada, focusing on the country’s talented workforce, open economy and ease of doing business. With the continued efforts of the ICBA, IDA, Ambassador Jim Kelly, and Tánaiste Simon Coveney in highlighting what we have to offer, Ireland will become a real contender for Canadian investment this side of the world.

  1. Canada is looking for direct investment from Ireland

Roundtable meetings held with investment agencies in Ontario and Quebec confirmed that these provinces wanted strongly to promote themselves as a location for Irish direct investment. Irish and Canadian business cultures are very closely aligned and both share a legacy of common law. Meetings with Ontario Attorney General Caroline Mulroney confirmed that this shared legacy is an important aspect of the Ireland Canada story. In fact, Ireland remains the last common law English-speaking country which is a member of the European Union.

  1. The changing Canada / US trade relationship presents Ireland with a big opportunity

Canada urgently needs to diversify trade beyond the United States and increase links to other market economies. For a long time, being right beside the US - the biggest, richest market in the world — has allowed Canadian companies export with ease. The experience of renegotiating NAFTA into USMCA has highlighted Canada’s vulnerability to a dominant trading partner that buys approximately 75% of Canadian exports. Only Kuwait, Bermuda, and Mexico have a higher geographic concentration of exports than Canada. When compared to countries where there are similar dependence issues such as Ireland & UK, Hong Kong & China, and New Zealand & Australia, Canada’s exports are much more concentrated. As a result of these factors, the delegation heard from well-placed sources that Canada is very open to increasing trade with Ireland and to using Ireland as a stepping stone for the wider EU market.

  1. Toronto Financial International (TFI)– a potential ally

TFI is a public-private partnership between Canada’s three levels of government, the financial services sector and academia with a mission to drive the competitiveness and growth of Toronto’s financial sector. Currently Toronto is the 2nd largest financial centre in North America. Aligning financial activities with a transition to a smart economy is a key concern for TFI and also for the Irish Government. Currently, the organisation is looking for international cooperation in the areas of Fintech and sustainable finance. Ireland, with its thriving international financial sector and a shared common law legacy with Canada, is very well placed to be a partner. There exists the opportunity to replicate the role of the Canadian financial sector in supporting actions that address climate change and collaborating with TFI.

The Ireland Canada Business Association strongly believes in the potential that lies in the economic and political relationships between our two nations. Already we have seen the number of jobs created by Canadian companies in Ireland grow by over 40% since 2014, and almost double-digit growth in the value of exports from Ireland to Canada. With Brexit strengthening Ireland’s position as a natural gateway to Europe for multinationals, boosted by the recent opening of an IDA office in Toronto, the opportunity is sizeable.

The ICBA’s recent business mission has confirmed that Canada’s industry and political leaders share our belief in the Ireland Canada relationship, and can clearly see ways to further strengthen it. We call on the government to continue to build on the great work it is doing in this regard, so that Ireland can make the very most of the opportunity currently presented.

The fascinating shared histories of Ireland and Canada

Robert G. Kearns, Chair and Founder of Ireland Park Foundation

Ireland Park Foundation    Robert G. Kearns, Ireland Park Foundation

Ireland Park Foundation (IPF) is an arts, culture and heritage organization, dedicated to commemorating and celebrating the story of the Irish in Canada. We believe that through these lenses, the people of Canada and Ireland can enrich the mutual understanding of their interconnected identities. IPF promotes artistic connectivity, engages in original academic research, and hosts public art and cultural events to help build a stronger sense of community between Ireland and Canada.

Ireland Park Foundation takes a multidisciplinary approach to celebrating and commemorating the story of the Irish in Canada. Through public parks we commemorate, through theatre and film we relate, through music we inspire, through history we discover and through migrant stories we reveal.

The histories of Ireland and Canada are closely intertwined in so many ways, here are 6 of the most significant:

1. Migration of Irish during the Famine to Toronto and Canada as a whole

During the years of the famine in Ireland, many migrants made their way by boat to various points in eastern Canada, particularly Grosse île, Montreal, Kingston and Toronto. In 1847, the worst year of the famine, 38,586 Irish migrants descended upon the Toronto Harbour. While many migrants moved out of the city in the months and years to come, Toronto has a rich Irish influence, visible in its public figures, architecture and place names. Today, in the Province of Ontario alone, around 16.5% of the population claims Irish ancestry.

2. Irish migration fundamentally changed how Toronto’s healthcare system was run.

Many of the Irish migrants who arrived in Toronto during 1847 were inflicted with typhus, with 1,186 perishing that year alone. A Toronto doctor named Dr. George Robert Grasett was appointed Chief Attending Surgeon of the Emigrant Hospital in June of 1847, where most of the typhus-stricken Irish were treated. Dr. Grasett, along with 11 other medical professionals, gave their lives while tending to the migrants. To this day, Irish Famine migration to Canada is the largest health crises in Canadian history and fundamentally shaped this country’s celebrated public healthcare infrastructure.

3. Canada’s role in Ireland’s Home Rule movement.

While Canada did not have a direct role in Ireland’s Home Rule movement, it was a supporter of it, having received its own ‘Home Rule’ though Confederation in 1867. However, Mr. Edward Blake, one of only three Canadian Liberal Party leaders never to become Prime Minister of Canada, joined the British House of Commons to support Ireland’s Home Rule movement. Blake’s parents emigrated from Ireland before he was born and in 1892, he resigned his position as leader of the Liberal Party and moved to Ireland with his family. He was elected as an Irish Parliamentary Party Member of Parliament in 1892, for South Longford.

4. Ireland announced its departure from the Commonwealth in Canada
In 1948, at a dinner at the Governor General’s residence in Ottawa, Taoiseach John A. Costello allegedly declared that Ireland was leaving the Commonwealth. Popular legend claims the Taoiseach, offended at having been placed across the table from a replica of the cannon, ‘Roaring Meg’, declared Ireland a republic. The reality was that Ireland had for some time been in talks with the British Government regarding the External Relations Act, which Britain passed, and Ireland wished to repeal. During his visit, Costello arranged for a toast to the President of Ireland in exchange for a toast to King George VI. Governor General Lord Alexander reneged on the toast to President of Ireland and, at a press conference the following day, Costello announced that Ireland would repeal the External Relations Act, which led to the declaration of the Republic of Ireland.

5. Dublin and Belfast were major influences for Toronto’s architecture.
Toronto’s built heritage reflects both the multiple waves and constant streams of Irish migrants, particularly in the mid-to-late 19th and early 20thcenturies. Many Irish architects, builders, engineers and cultural leaders came to Canada during these years and helped to shape the city we see today. In the mid-to-late 1800s, Dublin’s Georgian architecture came to define much of the residential neighbourhood architecture, as well as that of major buildings, such as Union Station, Toronto’s main train station. In the 20th century, Toronto was largely influenced by Belfast’s industrial architecture, visible in areas such as the Distillery District and Liberty Village.

6. Canada’s role in securing better IMF bailout terms.
Canada represents Ireland at the IMF and World Bank, and Ireland is the only European country that Canada represents at both. Canada was a strong supporter of Ireland’s bailout terms and former Canadian Finance Minister, the late Honourable Jim Flaherty, was recognized as a strong supporter of the eventual favourable terms given to Ireland. (For the full story see the Sunday Independent’s article)

IPF has embarked on many exciting projects and programs over the past year. In August of 2018, Grasett Park was opened to the public, with its granite installation. We await the final piece of the park—the glass elements—which will be installed in 2020. On March 17th of this year, we signed the lease for 3 Eireann Quay, the former Administrative Office building of the Canada Malting Company, situated between Billy Bishop City Airport and Ireland Park on Toronto’s waterfront. IPF looks forward to converting this space into a permanent arts, culture, and heritage event and presentation space.

In Profile: Ireland-Canada Chamber of Commerce Ottawa

Ireland-Canada Chambers of Commerce Ottawa Jackie Gilna Ottawa

For the second in our series of ICCC profiles, we catch up with Jackie Gilna, President of the Ireland Canada Chamber of Commerce Ottawa

Describe ICCCOTT and what its all about…

In cooperation with the Irish and Canadian business community, ICCCOTT established in 2010 promotes and supports programs that focus on trade and investment including sports, culture, and education as they relate to economic growth. We provide networking opportunities for members by organizing events with high profile speakers.  Additionally, we support the business community representing member’s business views before the Irish and Canadian governments in Dublin and Ottawa.

We are committed to resourcefully connecting people and helping foster relationships to further business opportunities and help deepen economic ties between our two countries.

Please describe one of ICCCOTT’s members

We are fortunate to have one of Canada’s most decorated Irish entrepreneurs and leader in our community, businessman Pat Kelly (Galway), Director Community Affairs ICCCOTT. Pat is a recipient of the inaugural Presidential Distinguished Service Award 2012, and founder of the Gales. His success with the Heart and Crown group, construction group Bradley-Kelly and many other business interests is an example to all that hard work, focus, drive, and ambition drive results.

From the beginning of his journey in Canada Pat helped so many who came to Ottawa with a roof over their head, a job to get them started and introductions to help create their opportunities. He is a true example to all. It is often said the Irish abroad do not support each other in business. Not Pat Kelly, he set the bar and leads by example!

What originally brought you to Ottawa?

I spent many of my adult years in the Netherlands. Before leaving I was involved in the Dutch Oil &Gas, Aviation, Marine and Fire Fighting training sector as Managing Director and sat as Director on the Board of Directors for Merger& Acquisitions.

I thrive on challenge and felt ready for a change. It was a family decision and so we moved from the Netherlands via Ireland (nine months) to Ottawa, my Canadian husband’s hometown where his mother, a west-coaster, still lives.

I had no thoughts other than to take a sabbatical and see what inspired me on the next step of life’s journey. The journey subsequently morphed into two acquisitions ripe for management restructuring and two start ups in the tech sector.

Ottawa is a very safe city with a growing international community, tech hubs, talent and  home to the largest employer in the country, the Federal government. We have access to great health care, housing and activities. Yes, the winters get very cold, but the warmth of our great Irish Canadian and local community compensates for the long weeks of boots and tukes!

Why should Irish companies consider Ottawa?

Ottawa has affordable housing costs in comparison to other major Canadian cities.  We are a tech hub with over 1.3m people and 1,750 knowledge-based business employing over 68k people. We boast innovative talent, highly competitive business costs, incubator hubs such as Invest Ottawa and L- Spark, and access to the Embassies of the world to establish international opportunities. Not bad for our small Nation’s capital! And did I mention, it’s only 16 km to the ski slopes?

What are your key pieces of advice for Irish companies starting to do business in this city?

As we are in the nation’s capital Ottawa, a few simple rules to follow are: take the time to build relationships. Be punctual, give a firm handshake, maintain eye contact and opportunity will follow.

What’s next for ICCCOTT?

ICCCOTT continue to grow with representatives from predominately three sectors: Legal, Financial Services and Tech.  We enjoy and are grateful for the support of the business community, the Embassy and our Chamber colleagues throughout Canada. We are excited and look forward to a unique event happening in this fall, an ICCCOTT initiative which will bring together the first Pan-Canadian Chamber meeting with guests ICBA and other parties in September 2019.

Check out part 1 of our series of Ireland-Canada Chamber profiles with Lar Quigley of the Ireland Canada Chamber of Commerce Vancouver

Interview with Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton

ICBA meets Richard Bruton

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton, recently spent a number of days in Canada as part of the Government’s 2019 St Patrick’s Day Programme.

The agenda was a mix of culture, business and politics, taking in visits to significant historical sites like Ireland Park, and meetings with political figures like Omar Alghabra, MP and Environment and Climate Change Minister, Catherine McKenna. The Minister also switched on the green lights at Niagara Falls for St Patrick’s Day.

Minister Bruton sat down with the ICBA on his return and spoke in detail about the visit in a ten-minute interview which you can listen to below.


We’ve also pulled out some of the highlights which you will find below in lightly-transcribed excerpts.

Meeting Omar Alghabra MP, Parliamentary Secretary to Canada’s Minister of International Trade Diversification

Omar Alghabra

Omar Alghabra MP, Parliamentary Secretary to Canada’s Minister of International Trade Diversification

Canada is faced with a very similar challenge as Ireland post-Brexit. We see our largest neighbour possibly putting significant trade barriers in our way. Canada has suddenly realised also that it's 75 percent dependent on the US market and that it's not a market that is quite as guaranteed as it was. So, it was very interesting to exchange thoughts on what Canada is doing with its trade commission to support Canadian businesses internationalizing.

We had meetings with a number of Irish companies there, the common thread was Data Analytics and Financial Technologies and they had developed very good opportunities in Canada solving key problems for Canadian companies. So, it was very interesting to see that on both sides you’re seeing the evolution of new ideas, innovative companies spreading their wings by trading in one another’s markets. At a time when a lot of people talk about protectionism, it’s really exciting to see companies carving out a niche and diversifying and benefiting, and mutual gain - a win-win situation.

Encouraging further Canadian investment in Ireland

There's been a huge expansion in recent years of Canadian investment in Ireland, and it's something that we want to encourage. I attended a business breakfast where very high on the agenda was the changing relationship as a result of Britain exiting the European Union and Ireland being the last common law English-speaking country which is a member of the European Union, and there's no doubt that people in Canada will be looking at Ireland in a fresh light in that respect. So, we have forty very important IDA investors already who have invested in Ireland and we would like to see others follow.

Meeting with Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna – carbon taxes and rebates

Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

It was very interesting to get an insight into what Canada is doing [in the area of Carbon taxes] - they have been pioneers of the idea that we should have a carbon tax with the money refunded. They are proposing that ninety percent of the revenue raised would be returned in a dividend and ten percent would be used for climate action. So, it is very much the idea that the purpose of a carbon tax isn't to raise funds but rather to encourage people to switch the way they behave in their own home and move away from high-carbon ways of living.

They've run into some difficulties because Canada has very independent-minded provinces, and so the relationship between a federal initiative and implementation in the provinces can be fraught. So, there is some pushback in some provinces against these measures and that is a very significant challenge that it is being worked through. I’m not going to comment on domestic politics in Canada, but it does show that anything in this area is a challenge because you're trying to encourage people to change the way they're used to living. And in significant states with either a significant shift in the political climate are indeed very strong interests in oil or the like, that poses greater problems.

They also are looking at this concept of transition and how they would manage, and have been managing, particular sectors that are very badly affected by transition. So, for example, they have committed in some provinces to get out of coal altogether and that obviously has had an impact on some traditional coal mining and coal-dependent areas. So, it was again interesting to see what they're doing in that area.

What can Ireland learn about implementing or increasing carbon taxes from the Canadian model?  

I think the dividend idea is one that is very attractive. The idea that it's clear to the public that when you're raising a tax it isn't a question of trying to raise revenue or putting barriers in the way of people, it's trying to change behaviour for the long term. So, if you receive a cheque in the post, as they are proposing, then that makes it easier for people to accept that this is a good measure.

I think always the problem in relation to climate is people, at a certain part of their brain, accept that it's a good thing, but to make it possible for them to move on from that, to switch to an electric vehicle or to insulate their home or to change to a heat pump, these things are harder steps and so it is important that you get momentum and get citizens engaged. And I think changing the way the tax is perceived is a really important part of that.

Minister Bruton switched on the green lights at Niagara Falls for St Patrick’s Day

Minister Bruton switched on the green lights at Niagara Falls for St Patrick’s Day

How the Irish government is helping Canadian multinationals to grow  

What Ireland did after the crash was rebuild our economy based on enterprise, innovation, and exporting, and that was founded on a very competitive base. And while, yes, as we approach fuller employment there are some pressure points, we currently have the highest productivity growth in Europe, and we're seeing companies do really well competing in the export markets.

The Government is acutely conscious of the need to improve our skill base. We are already the country with the highest third level participation, the highest number of graduates in STEM subjects, we have a very good regime for people who want to take workers in either from the rest of Europe or indeed from further afield to meet a particular skills shortage. So, we have equipped our economy to be sensitive to the needs of international investors both on the skills front and on the tax front, and we are very competitive in many ways.

We have just published a €120bn infrastructural plan where we're planning to roll out the infrastructures that will sustain the progress we're making, and we've identified key areas where there is tightness - housing being a major one, transport of course, and other social areas like health and education. So, I think we have a very strong strategy to continue to be an internationally competitive country, the government is acutely conscious of the needs of multinationals who are trading partners for us and we want to encourage that growth.

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Minister Heather Humphreys speaks at ICBA Trade Briefing

The Ireland-Canada relationship is one that I know the ICBA works hard at fostering and supporting through your membership and events such as today’s.

ICBA also collaborates with a wide range of key stakeholders, such as the Chamber network in Canada, and indeed with the agencies under the remit of my Department, such as Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland.

As Minister, my department and agencies are supportive of the activities of the Association and applaud your ongoing efforts to build partnerships between the vibrant business communities in Ireland and Canada.

Read the full speech