2018 Federal Budget moves dial forward on gender equality and talent; Still requires cohesion and scale

National ICT industry association welcomes measures in Budget 2018 to ensure Canada’s digital economy is cyber secure, modern and capitalizes on strengths; Still requires cohesion and scale

OTTAWA, ON (February 27, 2018) – Proposals to support Canada’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector in today’s Federal Budget will help to enhance efforts around the areas science, skills development, diversity and cyber security, but is limited in its response to increase Canada’s competitiveness, according to national industry advocate, the Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC).

The government has responded to the Canadian ICT industry’s requests to support increased diversity and women in the sector, and is continuing to support the development of talent, skills and lifelong learning, especially among our Indigenous Peoples. ITAC strongly believes Canada’s diversity is its strength, and that the government needs to continue to find ways to support and partner with industry and academia, and to leverage its procurement to drive socio-economic benefits across the country.

Leveraging Canada’s strengths in a digital world requires the right tax environment to spur ICT investments, whether it’s telecommunications firms investing in networks and 5G, or cities investing in the Internet of Things (IoT) and Smart Cities applications.  Without this, be it from corporations or small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), Canada will continue to lag in productivity behind the U.S. and will slip in overall competitiveness.

5G will provide the backbone for transmitting the vast amounts of data our Smart Cities and the IoT will create. We have called on government to make investments in smart infrastructure – assets that can collect, communicate and potentially act on the data they create.   This data will enable Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning to help us develop solutions to society’s problems; and with the drive to connect everything, it’s now essential we make Canada more cyber secure.

The government’s Cyber Security Strategy, which was announced in Budget 2018 and will be released in more detail in the coming weeks, provides Communications Security Establishment (CSE) funding ($155M over five years and $44.5M ongoing) to develop a new Canadian Centre for Cyber Security and ($116M over five years and $23M ongoing) to support the creation of a National Cybercrime Co-ordination Unit. However, with the remaining $236M over five years, and $41.2M, we will need to help move the dial forward in protecting Canadian citizens and companies from cyber attacks. The ICT industry will be looking for measures and investments that will make Canada more cyber secure and that have a direct focus on developing cyber talent, innovation and the adoption of security solutions, especially amongst SMEs in all other sectors of the Canadian economy.

Four of the nine recommendations (based around five core themes) tabled in ITAC’s 2018 Pre-Budget Submission, “Strengthening Canada’s Place in a Digital World”, were addressed in today’s Budget.

ITAC is looking forward to its continued work with key government officials and industry leaders to develop measures that will serve the interests of Canadians and Canadian businesses to fully and safely compete in the global digital economy.

 QUOTES:

On talent:

“Canada’s government, educational system and business must work together to bring cohesion and scale to Canada’s tech skills agenda.  It’s about growth, innovation and competitive advantage – and ultimately, future-proofing the country for changing technology and labour market needs. There is a fundamental need for our government to lead science, technology and research & development initiatives that will build talent and prosperity for our country now and for the long-term.”  Robert Watson, President and CEO, Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC)

 On cyber security:

“Cyber attacks have had a measurable adverse impact on Canada, totalling billions of dollars. Protecting assets from cyber attacks requires a whole of community approach and collaboration between the public and private sector. It is critical that the federal government play a key role as convenor of the community. This can’t just be about protecting the Federal Government, it also needs to focus on protecting the Canadian economy.”  Robert Watson, President and CEO, Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC)

“Protecting critical assets from criminal threats needs to be a national priority. Cyber security has long been a central issue for ITAC. ITAC’s membership includes a significant number of businesses that operate across the cyber security ecosystem; ITAC has been providing technical and policy advice to address critical issues in cyber security since these threats first appeared. ITAC sees its role as a collaborator between industry, government and academia – all of which need to work together to address the challenges facing Canadians.” Lisa Carroll, Senior Vice President, Public Sector, CGI, and ITAC Board Member

“We are pleased about the Government of Canada’s Cyber Security Strategy announcement. In the face of new security threats, it is imperative Ottawa and public sector agencies of all sizes take a more holistic and modern approach to protecting data, devices, and identities. Many of today’s attacks are aimed directly at the devices of end user employees, and for too long, IT security teams have left their IT networks vulnerable. Given the Government of Canada protects our citizen’s most vital information, we look forward to seeing the development of this new security investment.”  Mary Ann Yule, President and CEO at HP Canada, and ITAC Board Member

On diversity and Indigenous Peoples: “Women and Indigenous Peoples are two of the most under-represented groups within Canada’s ICT sector—as workers, and as leaders. This stifles Canada’s economic growth and limits companies’ ability to compete in the global digital economy. Here at ITAC, diversity is our strength and we fully support our female and Indigenous members. It is our hope that the federal government will find ways to create clear mandates and institute sufficient resources to make sure that these individuals can capitalize on the many and significant opportunities the Canadian ICT sector has to offer.”  Frédéric Boulanger, President & CEO, Macadamian Technologies, and Chair, ITAC Board of Directors

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 About Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC)

As Canada’s national ICT business association, the Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC) champions the development of a robust and sustainable digital economy in Canada. A vital connection between business and government, we provide our members with the advocacy, networking and professional development services that help them to thrive nationally and compete globally.   A prominent advocate for the expansion of Canada’s innovative capacity, ITAC encourages technology adoption to capitalize on productivity and performance opportunities across all sectors. A member-driven not-for-profit, ITAC has served as the authoritative national voice of the $170 billion ICT industry for over 60 years. More than 36,000 Canadian ICT firms create and supply goods and services that contribute to a more productive, competitive, and innovative society. The ICT sector generates over one million jobs directly and indirectly and invests $4.9 billion annually in R&D, more than any other private sector performer.

To arrange an interview, please contact: 

Janet Gibson Eichner

cell: 416-357-8908 or jgibson_eichner@itac.ca