The Digital Economy is the Economy

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By A Correspondent

The federal government is looking to boost the amount it contracts out to startups, writes Sean Silcoff in The Globe and Mail, “Ottawa earmarks just $30-million of its vast $18-billion annual procurement budget to buy new technologies from startups through its Build in Canada Innovation Program (BCIP)”.

In a period of low economic growth, Canada needs to invest in developing the talent and skills of its people. In particular, the country needs to prepare all Canadians to compete and collaborate in a global and digital economy.

That is not nearly enough, according to Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains. “It’s very modest and we can do better,” he said in an interview. “This is something we’re pushing very hard … I would like to see this in the budget.”

Minister Bains sees digital in all aspects of Innovation Agenda for Canada.

On November 17, the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, said, “Today, the digital economy is the economy. There is not a single industry that digital technologies don't touch anymore. Digital technologies underpin every sector, from fishing and farming to mining and health. That means the number of jobs requiring people with digital skills will continue to grow. Canada must do more to give people the skills and experience they need to compete in a global and digital world. In particular, we need to give every Canadian the opportunity to get online. No one should be left behind."

This message was delivered at the 2016 conference of the Canadian Chapter of the International Institute of Communications (IIC Canada). The conference was attended by representatives of the country's telecommunications and digital sectors.

In his remarks, Minister Bains said Canada should also focus on turning start-up companies into globally competitive successes and using the government's purchasing power to drive innovation. Minister Bains emphasized the need for government and the private sector to make smart investments in three key areas:

  • People: Expand work-integrated learning programs, such as internships, apprenticeships and continuous learning opportunities, for Canadians at every stage of their careers—from new graduates up to the highest-ranking executives.

  • Technology: Set big-horizon goals and create broad-based partnerships to fund ambitious research projects that solve complex, large-scale problems and spark commercial opportunities for the private sector.

  • Companies: Leverage the buying power of government, as the single-largest purchaser of goods and services, to support the growth of innovative companies that have the potential to be globally competitive.

These priority areas emerged during a summer of public engagement on Canada's Innovation Agenda, a plan to create well-paying jobs for the middle class, drive growth across all industries and raise the living standards of all Canadians.

Quick facts

  • The IIC Canada 2016 Conference brings together business and government leaders in broadcasting, media, telecommunications and technology to engage on key issues affecting the future of the Canadian communications sector.

  • Canadians participated enthusiastically during the engagement on the Innovation Agenda: 28 round-table discussions and thousands of digital interactions yielded over 1,300 ideas on how to drive economic growth through innovation.

  • In the coming months, these ideas will inform the government's work on the Innovation Agenda, as well as Budget 2017.


Vol. 12 - No. 1 - 2


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