On August 3rd, ITAC submitted to the federal government its 2019 Pre-Budget submission aimed at Strengthening Canada’s Place in a Digital World. This submission outlines ITAC’s essential policy requests for the federal government and establishes the central themes for our advocacy efforts for the year ahead.
Budget 2018 was very good for Canada’s ICT industry. Many of ITAC’s recommendations for were directly addressed by the federal government either through the budget or other processes. However, there were several important areas we hope Budget 2019 will resolve.
This year’s submission included recommendations in 6 areas, including:
1. Digital Government and Procurement
- Establish a Government Technology Hub, to act a centre of excellence for digital government collaboration with industry and academia. This will allow the Government to: pilot and experiment with technology prior to purchase; access talent; support and incubate start-ups and micro-firms; and provide a virtual hub for SMEs to develop solutions on a Government infrastructure and platforms.
- Expand funding for digital experiments. Create a government funding portal for digital experimentation under Innovative Solutions Canada, Innovation for Defence and Security (IDEaS) and the Canadian Digital Service.
- Invest in Back Office Transformation. Modernize back office services that support government innovations and digitizes operations.
- Innovate contracts, terms and conditions to align with industry norms focusing on fairness, limiting allocation of risk, and opening the possibility of negotiations with bidders to access confidential inputs.
- Provide a mechanism and requirement for Government to engage with industry at the idea stage to ensure business cases are developed with a broad understanding of the marketplace, emerging technologies and delivery methods, before procurements are constructed.
- Collaborate with industry on the design and implementation of a socio-economic development strategy that works for all suppliers.
- Raise the sole sourcing threshold to the NAFTA limits so SMEs can take full advantage of allowable limits.
- Work with industry to develop and implement an annual refresh cycle for the federal procurement process so that each year government evolves in its engagement with industry on what it buys.
2. Invest in Data and Tech Renaissance
- Invest in “Data for AI” projects integrating data from multiple sources.
- Allocate increased funding to build test beds for data analytics and innovation corridors based on 5G.
- Establish an engagement plan for roll-out of 5G networks.
- Introduce a “Smart Infrastructure Lens” for all federal infrastructure investments, including investments made by the Canada Infrastructure Bank.
- Mandate patient-first health data sharing across the entire healthcare system to improve care across multiple channels.
- Require health transfer funding supports and sustains digital healthcare innovation, including funding to organizations (e.g. Canada Health Infoway, Canadian Institute for Health Research), specifically targeted at developing better use of telehealth practices and new technology opportunities.
3. Tax & Competitiveness
- Encourage greater private sector investments in ICT infrastructure and more accurately reflect real depreciation costs by accelerating CCA to 100 per cent for all ICT class assets.
- International Trade:
- Global Affairs Canada to receive increased funding to improve their Digital Online Trade Commissioner Service that would include a better integration of an all of government approaches to avoid duplication of efforts.
- Expand the CanExport program that provides direct financial assistance to SMEs seeking to develop new export opportunities and markets.
- Take advantage of CETA and CPTPP through funding for the Trade Commissioner Service. Including expansion of the Canadian Technology Accelerator to Europe and Asia.
- Maintain pressure to conclude a successfully renegotiated NAFTA, including needed updates to chapters relating to modern technology.
3. Innovate the SR&ED Program
Since the government announced a holistic review of federal R&D programs in Budget 2017, ITAC has met with several Government officials to encourage innovative companies to scale-up, create market-based mechanisms to guide tax-payer investments in R&D; and increase access to risk capital.
- Finance Canada and ISED work with ICT industry experts to advance recommended adjustments to SR&ED.
4. Cyber Security
a) Have the new Canadian Centre for Cyber Security establish a Government-Industry Executive Advisory Table, with senior cyber executives from industry and government advising on increasing cyber preparedness and innovation across the economy.
b) Invest in the development of cyber talent and encourage students to pursue cyber careers.
c) Fund research, development and commercialization of new cyber security technologies, and develop programming to support the growth of Canada’s cyber industry to take advantage of a of a $100B global cyber economy.
d) Introduce a tax credit for cyber security technologies aimed primarily at SMEs that collect consumer data; conduct R&D – especially funded by taxpayers; and provide goods or services that are important for the physical and economic security of Canadians.
5. Marketplace Frameworks
As part of the Data Strategy, the Government should review the effectiveness of marketplace laws and regulations to ensure:
- PIPEDA, CASL, IP and Copywrite policies support, not impede innovation.
- Appropriate levels of funding to provide businesses, especially SMEs, with simple compliance guidance and tools.
- Private initiatives, voluntary codes and standards are leveraged, and regulatory tools are only used where needed.
- Privacy and security concerns by federal departments regarding technology adoption need to be honestly stated with facts.
- Government focuses on obvious gaps: the reform of the Privacy Act, as well as the inclusion of political parties as entities subject to privacy law.
6. Talent and Diversity
Double Down on Canada’s Diverse Tech Talent Competitive Advantage – 2025 targets
- Increase the number of employed highly-qualified ICT professionals from 550,000 (2018) to 750,000 (2025), by increasing the average compound growth rate from 2.5 per cent to 4.5 per cent per year.
- Increase the proportion of women and Indigenous Canadian employed as highly-qualified ICT professionals by 25 per cent over the same period.
- Conduct national/regional consultation and strategy development project to identify, prioritize and develop ICT-related post-secondary education program capacity expansion priorities, strategies and plans.
- Work with ITAC to develop and conduct a four-year national/regional ICT career awareness and comprehension program that targets secondary school teachers and students.
- Support the Business/ Higher Education Roundtable (BHER) Work-Integrated Learning recommendations to the federal government.
- Consult with Indigenous organizations to develop a strategy and plan for increasing participation in ICT-related career paths.
- Expand Student Work Placement Program (SWPP) to include funding of foreign students.
- Review current Canadian and global best practices for the use of educational technologies to support skills upgrading and career transitions from the Future Skills Centre commission. Budget to be drawn from existing Centre funding.
Read full ITAC 2019 Pre-Budget Submission