Tech Industry Group Wants Government to Invest in 5G Network, Developing Talent

An information and communication technology lobby group is asking the federal government to adopt policies and make investments that include better supporting startups, developing 5G network technology and attracting tech talent to work in government.

Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC) submitted its 2018 pre-budget recommendations and policy requests that it hopes Ottawa will address. The information and communication technology industry annually invests $4.6 billion in research and development—more than any other private sector in Canada.

The ITAC pitched nine proposals today to the feds that they have called their “core recommendations,” including reforming a federal tax credit for startups that the industry group said isn’t helping small companies scale.

“The SR&ED [tax credit] can inadvertently incentivize companies to stay small by scaling back the credits as companies grow and reach commercial success,” said the industry group who wants the credit to be tweaked to encourage companies to scale-up.

The ITAC also asked the government to invest in building 5G network technology—the next generation of mobile wireless networks—and said the government needs to “act now” to play a significant role.

“5G will make possible new classes of advanced applications, foster business innovation and spur economic growth,” said ITAC in their pre-budget submission. “Investments in 5G today will position Canada to take advantage of the new business models and technologies that emerge.”

They want Canada to fund the development of a national test bed and innovation corridor for 5G wireless technology.

Some pre-budget recommendations were directed at the public service itself. ITAC called on the federal government to invest in developing and attracting talent to tackle transformative digital projects.

They believe this requires new post-secondary professional programs for emerging tech fields including artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Part of this recommendation is to also inspire students—specifically women and Indigenous Canadians—to pursue ICT-related career paths. In Canada, the information and communication technology sector employs almost 600,000 people.

The ITAC reported that most of its 28 recommendations last year for how the federal government can innovate were considered in the 2017 budget.