By Anthony Capkun
April 4, 2014 – The federal government today unveiled Digital Canada 150, calling it “an ambitious path forward” for Canadians to take full advantage of the opportunities in the Digital Age.
“[Digital Canada 150] is a solid plan that will ensure Canada is able to take advantage of the enormous global opportunities ICT presents, and will help make us a world leader in ICT adoption,” said Karna Gupta, president and CEO, Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC).
The plan encompasses 39 new initiatives, and is based on 250 submissions that were received from more than 2000 Canadians who registered to participate in online consultations held over three months in 2010. Under Digital Canada 150, the federal government promises the following:
• Over 98% of Canadians will have access to high-speed internet (5 Mb/s) to enables eCommerce, high-resolution video, employment opportunities and distance education.
• Canadians will have confidence their online transactions are secure, their privacy is protected, and their families are safe from cyber-bullying and other online threats.
• To secure the communications networks and devices that connect Canadians from foreign threats, which will protect the privacy of families, businesses and governments.
• Wholesale domestic wireless roaming rates will be capped, and wireless companies breaking the rules will be penalized.
• New investments will be made to help small- and medium-sized businesses adopt digital technologies, and provide digital companies with access to venture capital.
“By providing access to venture capital and support for the adoption of technology, this strategy will help small- and medium-sized companies grow more quickly, leading to new jobs and increased productivity across the country,” said Iain Klugman, CEO, Communitech.
• Canada will be a leader in the use of digital technologies and open data, making it easier for Canadians to access government services online.
“Congratulations to the Government of Canada and industry minister James Moore on Digital Canada 150, which provides an exciting roadmap for prosperity in a transforming world,” said Cisco Canada’s president, Nitin Kawale.
• New measures to promote Canadian content online will enable Canadians “to better celebrate our national story and what it means to be Canadian”.
The feds will provide $305 million to extend and enhance high-speed internet services for 280,000 Canadian households in rural and remote areas. Through the Business Development Bank of Canada, the government will invest $300 million in venture capital for digital companies and $200 million to support small- and medium-sized businesses with digital technology adoption.
“The information and communications technologies industry is one of Canada’s key economic drivers, generating $155 billion in revenues each year, contributing $67.2 billion to the annual GDP and accounting for over 570,000 jobs,” added ITAC’s Gupta.