March 20, 2020
ATTN: The Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
Re: The Inclusion of the ICT Sector as an Essential Service
Dear Minister Blair,
On behalf of TECHNATION, the national industry association of the information technology (IT) sector in Canada, and its members, I wanted to take a moment to reach out to you personally to commend the leadership shown thus far in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the necessary and quick reactions by all levels of government.
The threat posed by COVID-19 has necessitated an unprecedented government response in order to ensure the safety of Canadians. Should the measures under your consideration potentially include emergency or shelter-in-place measures, I respectfully request that you include the vital functions performed by information technology, IT infrastructure, and delivery and transportation services as essential business exemptions.
We write with three requests: (1) IT services and IT infrastructure must be deemed essential in the case of emergency or shelter-in-place orders; (2) designated IT professionals must be exempt from international travel limitations; and (3) fulfillment and delivery services must be essential business exemptions in an emergency or shelter-in-place order.
IT and IT infrastructure serve a critical role across Canada through supporting the efforts of health care providers, first responders, medical researchers. Businesses and governments rely on videoconferencing and remote connectivity to facilitate their work and to ensure the continued employment of staff. Families depend on online services to teach their children and to communicate with loved ones.
Any material disruption to or closure of significant IT operations could severely impact our industry’s ability to support these critical endeavours. To ensure the continuity, stability, and security of these services, any emergency or shelter-in-place orders must designate IT services and IT infrastructure as essential.
Further, IT professionals must also be included within exemptions to travel limitation. IT professionals outside of Canada must be allowed to enter the country to perform critical maintenance and servicing of IT infrastructure and networks. In order to keep Canada’s digital infrastructure connected and secure, IT professionals must be allowed to do their work.
Finally, the fulfillment and delivery of food, medical supplies, household staples, and other important items allow Canadians continued access to necessary goods while isolating themselves in their homes. To maintain this critical and safe supply of goods, any emergency or shelter-in-place orders must also include fulfillment and delivery services as essential business exemptions. This must include their essential services vendors and those needed to expand these essential delivery services through construction of facilities.
In conclusion, we ask that you and your government respond to our request at your earliest convenience acknowledging both receipt of our message and the steps you will take to ensure the sustainability and safety of the information technology sector.
On behalf of our members – Canada’s technology leaders and innovators – I again thank you for your leadership. We stand ready to work with you to keep the public safe and healthy and am available to continue this conversation at any time.
President and CEO
- Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
- Hon. Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs
- Hon. François-Phillippe Champagne, Minister of Foreign Affairs
- Hon. Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport
- Hon. Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry
- Hon. David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
- Hon. Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages
- Hon. Joyce Murray, Minister of Digital Government
- Hon. Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion, and International Trade
- Hon. Marco E. L. Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship
- Hon. Harjit Sajjan, Minister of Defence