Microsoft has announced it will invest over $680 million (all figures Cdn) during the next two years to expand its digital infrastructure in Quebec, including the construction of data centres in L'Ancienne-Lorette, Donnacona, Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures and Lévis.
When complete, the investment will increase Microsoft's local cloud infrastructure footprint by 750 per cent in Canada, the company said in a release Wednesday morning.
The investment includes the construction of the new data centres as well as “new AI and cybersecurity skilling initiatives”.
"Today's announcement builds on the extensive investments Microsoft has made in Quebec and is just the latest example of our deep commitment to this province," Chris Barry, president of Microsoft Canada, said in the announcement.
"These investments will not only provide Quebec's private and public sector organizations with more capacity and added resiliency to transform operations but will also enable a trusted and secure foundation to scale solutions faster to market and compete globally, securing Quebec's future in the digital economy."
Microsoft did not immediately release the exact locations for the facilities, nor did it specify the size or computing capacity for the new data centres.
Sustainability to be built into new data centres
The announcement coincides with the launch of a report from Ernst & Young LLP (EY) which states Microsoft and its ecosystem in Quebec – with over 3,200 partners and substantial cloud infrastructure accounts – supports over 57,000 jobs, and contributes more than $6.4 billion annually to Quebec's GDP.
Microsoft claims it was the first company to launch enterprise-grade, hyper-scale cloud services in Quebec, in an existing data centre region which was launched in 2016. This investment will increase its computing capacity in the province by 240 per cent.
It also pledges to ensure the new data centres will help meet the company's sustainability goals to be carbon negative, water positive and zero waste by 2030. This is to include using low-carbon materials during construction, and using renewable energy, advanced cooling features, and measures to decrease fossil fuel use during operation.
The company also plans to work with industry leaders on a series of initiatives to help people gain and improve skills and capabilities related to the digital economy by providing access to learning resources, certifications and job-seeking tools.
Finally, it is investing $1.7 million over three years in partnership with KPMG Canada to launch the Operational Risk Skills Development Centre, which will offer free and hands-on French-first training to help businesses and governments build cybersecurity protections, navigate and implement the opportunities and challenges of GenAI. The centre aims to train more than 11,000 learners in its first phase.
''The creation of the Operational Risk Skills Development Centre marks a significant step in the global alliance between KPMG International and Microsoft,'' KPMG’s Benoit Lacoste Bienvenue, regional managing partner Québec region, said in the release. ''Through this collaboration, we aim to strengthen cybersecurity and make generative AI a transformative opportunity, instead of a threat.''