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ICTC Insights on the 2017 Federal Budget

By 22 March 2017 No Comments

The Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) welcomes the federal government’s budget to foster an inclusive innovation economy. Our ability as a nation to intensify investments in infrastructure, support small business scale up, and expand trade will be crucial in the coming years. While digital transformation continues to radically change the face of business in Canada, the hallmark for success in this environment is skilled talent with the capacity to innovate, adopt technologies, and produce higher-value goods and services. ICTC’s upcoming labour market forecast asserts the need of around 216,000 critical ICT positions to be filled by 2021. ICTC welcomes the 2017 federal budget in addressing the following areas in support of an inclusive and globally competitive economy.

“The government’s investment in digital skills development and business scale up is a winning strategy for heightening Canada’s competitive advantage in a global economy.” said Namir Anani, ICTC President & CEO.

ICTC welcomes the federal budget announcements in the following areas:

Industry Growth

Canada’s digital economy is largely comprised of startups. Access to capital has been consistently identified by Canadian startups as an impediment to growth. Availability of funding though venture capital and FDI is crucial to ensuring that Canada’s businesses move beyond early-stage development and into commercialization. The following investments by the federal government are aimed at scaling-up high-growth firms and industries, improving pathways to financing and funding, streamlining growth programs and smoothing the pathways for easier to access global talent.

  • The creation of a new platform, Innovation Canada, with the purpose offering single-window access to several innovation programs, providing expedited review and streamlined delivery
  • Broadening scale-up opportunities for Canada’s startups via increased access to capital, including $400 M in late-stage venture capital funding provided through the Business Development Bank of Canada
  • Improving scale-up of our high-potential industry sectors into super-clusters. This includes a $950 M investment for the purpose of attracting large-scale foreign investment, increasing the permeation of Canadian products in the global marketplace, and scaling-up successful Canadian firms, including those focusing on digital technologies
  • Unveiling the Global Skills Strategy, providing a 2-week processing timeline in high-growth, in-demand jobs, for the purpose of aimed at attracting high-skilled talent to Canada

 

Skills & Education

The growth of Canada’s digital economy depends on workers having the right training and skills needed to meet industry demands. Investment in post-secondary, bridging programs, work-integrated learning and other training initiatives is essential for the creation of a strong digital workforce, able to steer growth today and evolve with the industry needs of tomorrow.  The Canadian Innovation and Skills Plan seeks an ambitious mandate to provide Canada with the most skilled, talented, creative and diverse workforce in the World. To accomplish this, it will:

  • Invest in youth skills ($50 M over 2 years) including initiatives aimed at teaching kids to code, investing in organizations that support science, technology, engineering and math development in children, and promoting advanced digital literacy
  • Increase and enhance opportunities for youth to obtain skills and gain work experience through an expanded Youth Employment Strategy and the Work-Integrated Learning program
  • Invest in retraining and adult skills development, with the aim of creating easy-to access pathways for skill development and digital literacy. This includes support for adults returning to school mid-career, via the provision of transfers for provinces and territories, expanding the eligibility requirements for student grants and loans, and providing support for workers on EI, allowing them to maintain their status while attending post-secondary.

 

Diversity & Inclusion

A key component of strong economies, workforce diversity has been proven to increase productivity, while supporting creativity and innovation. Ensuring that inclusivity and diversity are integral ingredients of Canada’s tech sector will work to shape a robust digital economy. The 2017 budget creates more opportunities for all Canadians to succeed, while providing the following added support to traditionally underrepresented groups in the workforce:

  • Canada’s first gender-analyzed budget, providing specific initiatives and considerations for the purpose of achieving gender-parity in wages. This includes the establishment of the Canada-US Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders Council, as well as funding for EI for women seeking part-time studies and skills advancement opportunities.
  • Significant new investments in communities, as well as skills development opportunities for Indigenous Canadians. This includes the addition of 4,600 more financial aid packages for Indigenous Canadians, increased funding for the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy, and the provision of on-reserve case management systems aimed at preparing students living on-reserves for the workplace.
  • Increased opportunities for Persons with Disabilities through the use of technology. This includes an additional $22.3 M for new programs that help to co-fund innovative developments that remove barriers to accessing technologies.

Among the fastest growing sectors in the Canadian economy, investing in tech means investing in Canada’s future. Equipping Canadian startups with the necessary ingredients for success, and individuals with the right combination of skills, means that more Canadians are able to work in high-quality, sustainable and high-paying jobs. This creates a digital economy that is diverse, innovative and internationally competitive today, and for years to come.

 

For more details, including further information on ICTC’s various initiatives in support of the digital economy, please contact Stephanie Wilson at: s.wilson@ictc-ctic.ca