No, Amazon is not opening an Ottawa office – It’s already here

Amazon
Editor's Note

This story was updated after publishing with information regarding Amazon's local head count.

The message floating about social networks and news sites this week is that Amazon is coming to Ottawa. It’s based on a news release from the Ontario government. While the commerce giant is indeed adding 200 jobs to its Toronto operations, the release also notes that the company is “creating jobs and opportunities” across the province, including “establishing a software development office in Ottawa, with an exclusive focus on development projects for Amazon Alexa.”

This is true, but it is not new. Amazon actually opened its office in Kanata last August, though it’s been quiet about the details of its work ever since.

Francois Boisvert, who’s leading the local team, confirmed to OBJ in September that the group is developing new features for the Alexa automated assistant, and added that “the sky’s the limit” for hiring in Canada’s capital.

A spokesperson for Amazon told Techopia in an email that the firm currently has roughly 30 employees in Ottawa, most of which work on the Alexa platform, and currently has job postings for another four positions.

Meanwhile, competition is heating up in the automated home assistant market. Apple unveiled its competing HomePod earlier this month at its annual developers conference, and Google Home is set to be available in Canada on June 26. Alexa powers the Amazon Echo, which despite the Ottawa-based development, remains unavailable in Canada.

While Boisvert told OBJ that plans to bring the Echo north of the border were in the works, no timeline has yet been given on when it will become widely available for Canadian consumers. This has frustrated many online observers, even inspiring a website dedicated to all news about the Echo not coming to Canada.

So in short, the only new presence Amazon is likely to have in Ottawa in the near future is if its acquisition of Whole Foods goes through.