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Alberta

The App Built for Gig-Workers – Skilli 2.0

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Gig economy

Hearing more and more about the growth of the gig economy across Canada, parallel with the mass layoffs due to the pandemic, beckons the question, is gig work on route to become the new normal? 

Where we might find solace as an employee, the real narrative that should be shared in the freelance world is in the word itself, “free”. If you consider your previous work experience, whether it be hands-on, online or over the phone, you may have technical skills that could provide real value to another individual or business. 

The scary part? 

Not having the security of guaranteed income instills fear in every working professional. However, with the right support platform, setting your own schedule and building a brand around yourself offers far more pros than cons. 

gig worker

Tutors are just one of many categories of services available on the Skilli 2.0 app.

The team at Skilli has developed a new app to serve individuals who are growing the gig economy in Canada. The app allows for a freelancer to create a personalized profile, promote their educational accreditation, share what you intend to offer as a service to potential customers and access a direct contact form. 

For freelancers, the app can be far more than a stagnant promotion page, it allows you to keep track of leads, interact with potential clients, and get recognition for your work. You can learn more about how to get started by visiting their Help Center. With any industry there is always competition, the Skilli app offers a new innovative method to get hired for freelance and contract jobs that mitigates the risk for the customer. 

In conversation with their CEO, Karshil Desai, he speaks on how Skilli 2.0 was created to put the service provider first. 

“Our technology and our business model allows us to be the preferred platform for the gig-economy. The app features are designed to make the lives of Service Providers simpler and more efficient, resulting in a greater quality of work. We are empowering our communities to make smarter and more informed decisions to get work done quickly and more efficiently.”

Think about it, by putting a major focus on transparency and security for service providers, ultimately customers will receive a higher quality of service. Customers can then view previous accomplishments and seek their preferred service provider.

Launching on the App Store and Google Play from February 15th, the new Skilli app is a freelancer’s best friend. If you would like to learn more about Skilli and their support for gig workers, check out their website or their social media below. 

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Alberta

Alberta inquiry finds no wrongdoing in anti-oilsands campaign despite foreign funds

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EDMONTON — Canadian environmental groups did nothing wrong when they accepted foreign funding for campaigns opposing oilsands development, a public inquiry has reported.

In his much-delayed report released Thursday, Steve Allan, commissioner of the Inquiry into Anti-Alberta Energy Campaigns, says the groups were exercising their rights to free speech.

“I have not found any suggestions of wrongdoing on the part of any individual or organization,” Allan writes. 

“No individual or organization, in my view, has done anything illegal. Indeed, they have exercised their rights of free speech.”

Allan also says the campaigns have not spread misinformation.

While he finds that at least $1.28 billion has flowed into Canadian environmental charities from the U.S. between 2003 and 2019, only a small portion of that has been directed against the oilsands. Auditors Deloitte Forensic Inc. estimate that money at between $37.5 million and $58.9 million over that period. That averages to $3.5 million a year at most.

Alberta’s United Conservative government funds its so-called “war room,” an arm’s-length agency instituted to counter environmental groups, at up to $30 million a year.

The report also finds that what it calls conservative/market-oriented charities that worked in support of the oilsands received at least $26.7 million from foreign sources. 

Allan recommends a series of reforms to improve transparency in the charitable sector. He says charities should be subject to the same standards of disclosure as private corporations. 

He also calls for an industry-led campaign to rebrand Canadian energy.

“Industry associations, governments, and the industry itself have failed to counter (environmental groups’) efforts, such that the public has not had ready access to complete, reliable and balanced information,” Allan writes.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 21, 2021

Bob Weber, The Canadian Press

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Alberta

PropTech is making it easier to buy or sell a house online

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CALGARY — Kim and Dave Bailey knew they wanted to build their new home on a lot that would accommodate a three-car garage.

But finding the right location meant repeatedly taking time out of their day to visit sales offices, only to find out what they wanted wasn’t even a possibility.

“We must have visited seven or eight homebuilders in the community,” said Dave. “We’d have a conversation and then ask, ‘can you accommodate a three-car garage?’ They’d say ‘nope,” and so it was like, ‘OK, I guess we wasted our time.’ “

After one too many unsatisfying experiences, the Baileys stumbled upon Ownly, an online shopping tool for the new home market launched last year by a pair of Calgary entrepreneurs and now available on several Calgary homebuilder websites. Using Ownly, the couple were able to browse prospective communities and floor plans and figure out which home designs fit on which lots.

While the advent of e-commerce and mobile technology long ago changed the way Canadians shop for everything from clothing to vacations to food, the real estate industry has been slower to embrace digital innovation. For most people, buying a house remains a cumbersome, time-consuming process that involves multiple in-person visits with agents, lawyers and bankers.

But that’s beginning to change, with a growing number of homebuilders, real estate brokerages and financial institutions offering digital solutions aimed at modernizing the buying and selling process.

The Baileys also used Ownly to play around with different upgrade packages and get a ballpark price quote. By the time they actually set foot in the sales office of the builder from whom they ultimately bought their Calgary dream home, they knew exactly what they wanted and had a good sense of what it was going to cost.

“Building a new home is a huge financial decision,” said Kim. “So being able to look at everything before you go out, and being able to tell if this is even feasible for you, it reduces some of that disappointment.”

Abdullah Snobar, executive director of The DMZ business incubator at Ryerson University, says the economy is undergoing a major transformation as people become increasingly digitally savvy.

“Startups are definitely thriving in this space and we’re beginning to see the industry really find its footing around it,” he said.

Most homebuyers are familiar with commonplace digital real estate tools like web-based listings, virtual tours and online mortgage calculators. But tech innovators are now partnering with real estate companies to offer everything from digital sales offices to artificial-intelligence enabled search tools to virtual-reality-led property tours.

Advocates say taking advantage of PropTech — a term that refers to the use of technology in the real estate space — can offer a host of benefits to buyers and sellers. Whether it’s the minimizing of face-to-face contact during the COVID-19 pandemic, or the convenience of being able to shop on your own schedule, the use of digital solutions can remove some of the headaches from a real estate search.

The use of PropTech can also be a money-saver. Because the Baileys weren’t walking blindly into the sales office, they felt more confident about their ability to choose the model and upgrades that worked within their budget.

“Our salesperson didn’t have to upsell us at all. Anything that we upgraded came directly from us, not from them,” Kim said.

While PropTech has made some significant strides when it comes to disrupting the traditional real estate market, experts say it’s not yet possible in Canada to complete all the steps in the home-buying process — from offer to financing to closure of the deal — online.

But Fred Cassano, partner and national real estate tax leader with PwC Canada, said a number of PropTech companies will likely offer such tools in the near future.

“I think we’re much closer than people realize to being able to complete the entire process online,” Cassano said. “I don’t think we’re too far away from seeing that, which is transacting digitally from start to finish.”

In fact, Ownly says that within the next year, it hopes to expand its own platform to provide a complete end-to-end new home-buying service online.

Melanie Gowans, general manager of sales and marketing at Calgary’s Shane Homes — one of the builders that has been using the Ownly tool — said her company is ready for it.

“We would never replace the service we’re offering now. There are going to people who aren’t comfortable doing the whole sale online. But I want to make it available to those who are comfortable,” Gowans said.

“We (the home building industry) are one of the last industries to have everything online,” she added. “But if you think about back when you first started being able to buy clothes online, that seemed really weird too . . . So I think we are getting there, and we’re only going to get better at it.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 21, 2021.

Amanda Stephenson, The Canadian Press

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