Canadian government launches national consultations on a Digital Economy Strategy

The Government of Canada announced on Monday the 11th that there will be a national consultation aimed at building consensus among governments, the private sector, academia and the Canadian public in developing a digital economy strategy for Canada. The announcement was made jointly by Ministers Tony Clement, James Moore, and Diane Finley:

“Canada can and should be a leader in the global digital economy,” said the Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Industry. “Now is the time for the private sector to step up and contribute their ideas for a digital strategy and, when that strategy is in place, to implement the plan.”

“Our government wants Canadians to have the skills that will make them leaders in this rapidly developing and globally competitive industry,” said the Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development. “Through these consultations, we will work with industry and other partners to identify areas where we need to develop our workforce of the future.”

“Our government is committed to ensuring that creators, inventors and entrepreneurs have the incentives to innovate, the confidence to take risks and the tools to succeed,” said the Honourable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages. “We recognize the important role the digital media and content sector plays in the digital economy, and we intend to develop a long-term plan that will stand the test of time.”

The March 2010 Speech from the Throne and Budget 2010 both established the Government of Canada’s objective to develop a digital economy strategy for Canada. The strategy will enable the information and communications technology (ICT) sector to create new products and services, accelerate the adoption of digital technologies and contribute to improved cyber security practices by industry and consumers. It ensures that creators have the incentives to innovate, the confidence to take risks and the tools to succeed.

The consultations over the next two months are aimed at identifying areas of collaboration, priority issues to be addressed and opportunities for realigning existing federal policies and programs. It is clear from previous and ongoing discussions that government can play a key role in providing the legislative and investment framework so that individual businesses can be global leaders in their fields. However, it is the private sector that has the talent, technology and entrepreneurial spirit to take the initiative in securing Canada’s position of leadership in the global digital economy.

The consultations, which have begun now and close on July 9, 2010, will be hosted onlineA discussion paper posted on the consultation site provides details on the key themes being considered:

  • Capacity to Innovate Using Digital Technologies;
  • Building a World-Class Digital Infrastructure;
  • Growing the Information and Communications Technology Industry;
  • Building Digital Skills for Tomorrow.

The consultation seeks feedback from all interested parties on priorities and targets as Canada moves toward improving innovation and creativity, adopting new technologies and achieving the shared goal of making Canada a global leader in the digital economy. The consultation will help to clearly define roles and responsibilities among industry, academia, content developers, technical experts, researchers and government, and build consensus on how to work together to develop a Canadian strategy for the digital economy.

A strategy for Canada’s digital economy will recognize that success will not come through a particular government program or combination of government programs, but from a concerted effort—combining government vision and the resolve of individual businesses to be global leaders in their fields. Once the consultation process has closed in July 2010, the government will review the information and use it to develop a national digital economy strategy.