Digital Canada 150 underscores ICT’s role in nation building

UnknownBy Karna Gupta, President & CEO, ITAC

The much-anticipated release of a Canadian digital economy strategy—released by Industry Minister James Moore as ‘Digital Canada 150’ at an event on April 4—brings together many of the issues that ITAC has advocated for, and lays a foundation for further discussion and input.

Under the strategy’s five pillars—Connecting Canadians, Protecting Canadians, Economic Opportunities, Digital Government, and Canadian Content—are a number of elements this Government has brought forward in budget documents and elsewhere. But the strength of ‘Digital Canada 150’ lies in the amalgamation of these initiatives and concepts into a single, tangible package, which presents a broad vision of where Canada needs to be in the 21st century.

What’s more, ‘Digital Canada 150’ carves a much-deserved place for the ICT sector front and centre on this Government’s agenda.

I was encouraged to see positive commitments on issues such as minimum bandwidth requirements for rural connectivity, stronger protection under the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, and Open Government access that will be tuned to mobile devices as well as personal computers. The measures to strengthen the growth of the digital economy sector through renewed BDC funding and ongoing support for accelerators and incubators is useful. And a renewed focus on content is also welcome.

Minister Moore positioned ‘Digital Canada 150’ as an important step in nation building. By definition, nation building is always a work in progress. The strategy announced today knits together a broad array of elements, but certain areas need to be further articulated and fleshed out as they are critical to building a knowledge economy—for example, a comprehensive vision of the human resources issues as it relates to skills and talents required for tomorrow. We will continue to press the Government for a clear ICT talent policy that addresses the needs of our sector. We will also continue to provide our industry’s views on a cyber-security strategy for Canada and the type of critical infrastructure protection necessary to help make the internet of things a reality.

‘Digital Canada 150’ is a positive step forward, and we anticipate fruitful discussions of specific issues as enabling legislation and policy statements are crafted. We welcome the Government’s fulfillment of its commitment to bring together the many threads of a digital economy approach into a single strategy.

We welcome your views on ‘Digital Canada 150’ along with any ideas you have for working with us to ensure the Government’s vision for our digital economy reflects the input of our sector. I encourage you to contact me to share your feedback.