The path to recovery;
After an unprecedented year that started with the promise of a new decade, we then witnessed the devastating human and economic aftermath of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Canada’s economic reality experienced a state of flux, with many industry verticals feeling the full brunt of this environment while others found a measure of solace in being digital by default. Amid this turmoil, larger questions came to bear about the efficacy and preparedness of Canada’s health system, food supplies, education, the changing nature of work, as well as the construct of sustainable and intelligent cities and communities. One trend was however very prominent; being economically resilient meant being digital ready.
Despite a trying year that tested Canada’s resolve, we emerge optimistic about Canada’s prospects and the world we aim to shape for generations to come. This crisis has more than ever reinforced the significance of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals on climate action, good health and wellbeing, sustainable cities and communities, and the importance of a shared and equitable future for all Canadians.
Government relief packages also proved a welcome assistance for many citizens and businesses that were the hardest hit by this economic turmoil. However, jobs and economic recovery remain an immediate priority. Despite an increasing public and household debt, Canada maintains the lowest debt-to-GDP ratio amongst the G7 countries as highlighted by our recent white paper “Economic Resiliency In The Face of Adversity”. It also enjoys stable fiscal and political landscape, has a strong academic and talent base, and boasts a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem. Such accolades put Canada in a privileged position to continue to attract investments, expand trade, and foster greater socioeconomic prosperity.
In 2021, ICTC will be intensifying its efforts as a strategic coach for the digital economy and in shaping a game plan for economic recovery through quality research, policy tools, and capacity building programs while advancing Canada’s aspirations for a globally competitive 2030 economy.
In 2020, ICTC continued to shape a forward-looking digital agenda for Canada by leading and speaking at over 70 national and international forums, conferences, and key policy roundtables. We also designed and delivered on a variety of key talent programs for unemployed and underemployed Canadians, youth, women advancement, newcomers, and career transitioners. These included the WIL Digital – Student Work Placement Program; the Digital Dash 2.0 for middle and secondary school students; The Women in Technology initiative, Go Talent program that connects international ICT talent with Canadian businesses; the Ontario Career Connect wage subsidy program that enables young graduates to earn on-the-job experience and potential full-time employment; the Edge Up program in collaboration with the Calgary Economic Development to help Oil & Gas displaced workers transition to in-demand digital careers; the CyberTitan youth cybersecurity education and competition initiative for middle and secondary school students; as well as the Arrival to Fintech Ready, an Ontario program that helps newcomers expand their digital skills for the Blockchain and Financial Technology (FinTech) industries.
We also leveraged our inherent organizational strength and programing and intensified our efforts in Quebec and for Francophone communities across Canada.
On the research and policy front, we also heightened our efforts in this space under the banner of the Digital Think Tank to better reflect our independent and thought-leadership role for the digital economy. We also significantly heightened our research and policy paper output in a multitude of priority areas for Canada in smart and intelligent communities, Industry 4.0, FDI attraction, ethics and humanity, and critical technology and labour market forecasts like the Digital-Led New Normal. We also published a variety of blogs and editorials to brief, engage, and heighten the discourse on matters of national socioeconomic interest. Last year also marked a period of continued organizational growth for ICTC that expanded our partnerships, regional presence, and talent capacity.
I would like to conclude by extending a special thank you to all our partners and stakeholders for their valuable support and trust in our mandate, to the Board members for their insights and guidance, and to our very talented staff for their remarkable ingenuity and passion in advancing important goals for Canada in the face of adversity.
I wish you above all a very healthy and prosperous 2021.
President & CEO