The week of February 18, 2019, the Chamber was squarely focused on innovation. Two days after the second edition of its Strategic Forum on Artificial Intelligence, which brought together close to 850 participants, the Chamber welcomed Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, the Honourable Navdeep Bains.
Minister Bains was in Montréal to present his government’s Innovation and Skills Plan and to talk about Canada’s culture of innovation. Mr. Bains made his speech almost exclusively in French, doing so with a great deal of pride.
Here are three messages to remember from his speech.
Canada well positioned
Straight out of the gate, Minister Bains noted the many competitive advantages that distinguish Canada economically. The elected official from Mississauga-Malton pointed to the country’s educational system and access to global markets and his government’s pro-business philosophy that encourages job creation.
According to Minister Bains, Canada’s strength lies primarily in its labour force, which he argues is the most educated in the world. He believes his government’s plan is generating results. Attracting companies to the country creates quality jobs, and openness to foreign markets is a strategic advantage.
Tools for businesses to tap into opportunities
Minister Bains argued that Canada is a country of choice for new ideas, business growth and the creation of quality jobs. He indicated that one of the government’s priorities is to ensure all Canadians have the tools they need to tap into opportunities.
He noted that his government has lightened the regulatory load around innovation, in particular in terms of transportation, reducing the number of regulatory texts from 95 to 32. He also noted the creation of a single source for companies in business development.
Mr. Bains also reflected on the supercluster initiative, in which the government invested over $950 million, establishing innovation ecosystems in Canada’s main sectors of excellence.
Investments in AI: the ball is in the private sector’s court
During the Chamber’s forum on February 18, we received the news that the Scale AI supercluster, launched one year ago by Minister Bains, was ready to participate in projects.
Asked whether his government would make additional investments in the supercluster initiative, Minister Bains called on the private sector, knowing that China and other countries make significant investments in AI. He pointed out that his government wanted to create a solid ecosystem by funding the launch of the initiative. He believes that the next phase has to come from the private sector to keep up with the strong global current in AI.
Regarding innovation more broadly, the Minister reiterated that his government’s goal was to position Canada as an innovative society. Artificial intelligence is, of course, an important part of this vision, but the government also wants to encourage research in every sector, placing Canada at the forefront of progress and maintaining its solid competitive position worldwide.