OTTAWA, March 19, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Proposals to support Canada’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector in today’s Federal Budget were mixed, according to national ICT industry association, Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC). While encouraged by the focus on skills development, diversity and advancements to enhance critical infrastructure (i.e. cyber security), today’s announcement is limited, not addressing integral investments required around innovation and modernization, which would increase Canada’s competitiveness on a global scale.

Four of ITAC`s recommendations tabled in ITAC’s 2019 Pre-Budget Submission, “Strengthening Canada’s Place in a Digital World”, were addressed in today’s Budget. This includes long called for changes to the Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) Tax Credit that will help Canadian companies scale-up; and an increased focus on skills, diversity and talent initiatives, designed to develop a modernized youth employment strategy and attract global talent.  Measures supporting rural broadband and additional government investment in cyber security – including a commitment to tabling cyber legislation – are also seen as positive steps forward.

However, a number of important industry recommendations were not addressed, including: a long-awaited national data strategy; Smart Cities investments; improvements to create a more digital government (i.e. a Digital First approach, improvements to procurement, and the re-training of federal ICT workers); market place frameworks; data and data privacy; the Cloud; or a commercial-first approach, which would enable the public and private sectors to work closely eliminating competition and increasing customer service, were noticeably absent.

A data-driven digital economy requires investment – in data and artificial intelligence, in smart infrastructure, in smart cities, and in 5G. Disruptive technologies provide opportunities and challenges for Canada and they must be addressed through policies and initiatives.  With limited time before the next election, the ICT industry will be seeking information from the federal parties regarding their election platforms on several technology issues, including those that will help  improve efficiencies, innovate and to increase Canada’s overall competitiveness.

ITAC is looking forward to its continued work with key government officials and industry leaders to develop measures that will serve the interests of Canadians and Canadian businesses to fully and safely compete in the global digital economy.

QUOTES:

“We live and work in a world that is increasingly digital in nature. All industries – including Canada’s governments – are directly impacted by a digitally focused approach to doing business. Innovative competitors, disruptive technologies, shifting regulatory frameworks and cyber security threats all have a direct and serious impact. Together, government and industry need to find solutions to increase efficiencies and competition; leverage data and analytics; increase cyber security measures; support technology-based SMEs; support the socio-economic goals of the Government; and enable the use of federal procurements to support economic growth.” Denise Shortt, Acting President and CEO, Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC)

On Talent:
“ITAC has been a strong advocate for investment in skills development in the face of growing demand for technology professionals, as well as changes across the Canadian economy. Today’s Budget is a step in the right direction to help address and fix equity and inclusion in the ICT sector. All businesses must engage more women, people with disabilities, Indigenous Canadians and other dispersed workers if we are to remain a technological powerhouse. And by working together, government and industry can play a role in driving Canada’s economic and social development and find real solutions to the challenges that need to be addressed.” Gina van Dalen, Executive Director, ITAC Talent (Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC))

About Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC)
As Canada’s national ICT business association, the Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC) champions the development of a robust and sustainable digital economy in Canada. A vital connection between business and government, we provide our members with the advocacy, networking and professional development services that help them to thrive nationally and compete globally.   A prominent advocate for the expansion of Canada’s innovative capacity, ITAC encourages technology adoption to capitalize on productivity and performance opportunities across all sectors. A member-driven not-for-profit, ITAC has served as the authoritative national voice of the $170 billion ICT industry for over 60 years. More than 36,000 Canadian ICT firms create and supply goods and services that contribute to a more productive, competitive, and innovative society. The ICT sector generates over one million jobs directly and indirectly and invests $4.9 billion annually in R&D, more than any other private sector performer.

To arrange an interview, please contact:
Janet Gibson Eichner
cell: 416-357-8908 or jgibson_eichner@itac.ca