In a presentation held at OpenText, Industry Minister James Moore has unveiled Digital Canada 150 , an ambitious path forward for Canadians to take full advantage of the opportunities of the digital age. Digital Canada 150 encompasses 39 new initiatives that build on the Canadian government’s successful measures for a more connected Canada. It is based on 250 submissions that were received from more than 2,000 Canadians who registered to participate in online consultations held over three months in 2010. Hopefully it carries more weight and substance than the promise that the Conservatives would support the CBC by “maintaining or increasing” the network’s budget. Which it didn’t. Which meant the cancellation of shows we don’t want cancelled. But that’s another argument. In fact this announcement in and of itself raises new arguments. I feel
a rant an editorial fighting to get out.
“We now live in a digital world,” said James Moore, Industry Canada Minister. “What connects us today are the Internet and new technologies that have created tremendous opportunities for Canadians to communicate with each other and businesses to compete globally. Our government’s top priorities are jobs and economic growth. Digital Canada 150 is a plan to take full advantage of the digital economy as we celebrate our 150th anniversary in 2017. It’s the next step to build our nation and connect Canadians to each other.”
Direct Link to the Digital Canada 150 document  (PDF)
There are five key principles guiding Canada’s digital future:
- Connecting Canadians
- Protecting Canadians
- Economic Opportunities
- Digital Government
- Canadian Content
“Taking full advantage of digital technology is an ongoing priority for Canadian Heritage and its portfolio organizations, which play a vital role in the cultural, civic and economic life of Canadians. As Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017 draws closer, we will provide opportunities to promote Canada’s history. Digital Canada 150 will help these activities to extend their reach and enrich the experiences of Canadians as they celebrate their history and heritage.” States Shelly Glover, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages – the same Minister responsible for preserving Canadian content on TV. Oh wait, still another argument.
Under Digital Canada 150:
- Over 98 percent of Canadians will have access to high-speed Internet at 5 megabits per second—a rate that enables e-commerce, 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 cyberbullying and other online threats.
- We will work 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 that break the rules will be penalized.
- Significant new investments will be made to help small and medium-sized businesses adopt digital technologies and to provide digital companies with access to venture capital.
- Canada will be a leader in the use of digital technologies and open data, making it even easier for Canadians to access government services online.
- New measures to promote Canadian content online will enable Canadians to better celebrate our national story and what it means to be Canadian.
Digital Canada 150 is the result of extensive consultations with industry, businesses and individual Canadians. It is designed to be inclusive, capable of responding to the demands of fast-changing times, and able to provide Canadians with the tools, the protections and the skills they need to fully embrace the opportunities of a digital future.
- The Government of Canada will provide $305 million to extend and enhance high-speed Internet services to a target speed of 5 megabits per second for 280,000 Canadian households in rural and remote areas.
- Canada’s world-leading anti-spam law comes into force July 1, 2014, to protect Canadians from malicious online attacks.
- Digital Canada 150 provides important funding, $36 million in total, to repair, refurbish and then donate computers to public libraries, not-for-profit organizations and Aboriginal communities, giving students access to the equipment they need to take part in the digital world.
- 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.
“In the digital age, our future depends on harnessing the power of open data, and Digital Canada 150 is a plan to help Canadians do just that,” added Tony Clement, President of the Treasury Board. “Through open government initiatives and online tools such as apps, open data makes it easier for the public to access government services and saves time and money through facilitating daily tasks.”
Minister Moore’s Speech & Speaking Points (in text):
Let me begin by thanking Tom Jenkins, Mark Barrenechea and the whole team here at OpenText for hosting us today.
It’s great to be back in Kitchener—Waterloo today—home to many of Canada’s most innovative tech companies, digital research centres and educational institutions—to address such a forward-thinking audience about our government’s plan for Canada’s digital future.
Canada has always been a country that looks ahead.
In 1881,Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald looked ahead and knew that Canada needed to build a railway. To connect a continent and unite a country.
In 1988, Prime Minister Mulroney signed a free trade agreement with the United States. Of course this deal was subsequently expanded to include Mexico. NAFTA has been an incredible success, creating unprecedented new opportunities for jobs and growth.
And, more recently, our government signed Canada’s most ambitious and far-reaching trade agreement yet—with the European Union—opening up a market of 500 million new customers.
Each of these was, in its own way and time, an act of nation building.
When we hear the term “nation building,” we often think about what’s ALREADY been achieved. Things done long ago that created the country of today. But nation building isn’t just about what happened in the past, it’s also about our path forward.
So what’s next for Canada?
Today I am pleased to unveil Digital Canada 150, a comprehensive digital policy for our nation.
Digital Canada 150 is a bold plan to guide Canada’s digital future. It is the result of more than 250 submissions that were received from more than 2,000 Canadians who registered to participate in online consultations held over three months in 2010.
Digital Canada 150 sets clear goals of what Canada can achieve by the time we celebrate our 150th anniversary in 2017. In total, there are 39 new initiatives.
Digital Canada 150 is built on five pillars:
- Connecting Canadians
- Protecting Canadians
- Economic Opportunities
- Digital Government
- Canadian Content
Connecting Canadians is about ensuring that Canadians have access to the latest wireless technologies and high-speed networks at the most affordable prices.
- Digital Canada 150 will connect over 98 percent of Canadians to high-speed Internet, with speeds of at least five megabits per second. That is nearly 300,000 Canadian households, mostly in rural and remote communities, that will have access to high-speed Internet for the first time.
- Under the Building Canada Fund, broadband and connectivity projects will be eligible for federal funding.
- We will unbundle TV packages, so consumers can pick and choose the combination of channels they want.
- We will cap domestic roaming fees on networks in Canada to increase competition and lower prices for consumers.
- We created new rules for cell towers to ensure that communities have a say on where towers are built.
- And our wireless policy is delivering more choice, lower prices and better service for Canadian consumers in all regions of the country.
Digital Canada 150 will protect Canadians online.
As we encourage even more individuals and businesses to get online, Canadians need to have confidence that their online transactions are secure, their privacy is protected and their families are safe from cyberbullying and other online threats.
So what’s new?
- Next week I will table new legislation in Parliament to strengthen our laws to better protect the online privacy of Canadians.
- New cyberbullying legislation will protect our families from invasion of privacy, intimidation and personal abuse.
- We will make sure the communications networks and devices that connect Canadians will be secure from threats, protecting the privacy of families, business and governments.
- The anti-spam laws coming into force on July 1 this year will protect Canadians from malicious online attacks.
Digital Canada 150 will ensure that our employees, students, researchers and businesses have the skills and opportunities necessary to succeed in an interconnected global economy.
We want to position Canada among the world’s leaders in adopting digital technologies.
So what’s new?
- Digital Canada 150 will invest $200 million to help small and medium-sized businesses adopt digital technologies, as well as invest an additional $300 million in venture capital for digital companies.
- Digital Canada 150 invests $40 million to support 3,000 internships in high-demand fields.
- It increases funding for the Canada Accelerator and Incubator Program to $100 million.
- It provides important funding, $36 million in total, to repair, refurbish and then donate computers to public libraries, not-for-profit organizations and Aboriginal communities to give students access to the equipment they need to access the digital world.
Digital Canada 150 will also position Canada as a global leader in digital government. We’ll do this by making the Government of Canada a leader in using digital technologies and open data.
In 2006, our first action was to bring forward a new era of open government and accountability.
Fast-forward to 2014, and we are now democratizing data and making sure that government information is accessible to everyday Canadians.
Data is the 21st century’s new natural resource. And Canada is opening up its vaults and releasing datasets that can promote economic development, spark innovation and help find ways to make government work better.
Many of you have been involved with the Canadian Open Data Experience appathon. In fact over 900 apps developers from across Canada used raw government data from the Open Data Portal to create apps.
This is just one example of a host of new initiatives that Minister Clement will bring forward over the coming months as part of Open Government 2.0.
- Our government is modernizing government operations, catching up to the 21st century with one web presence and one consolidated email system.
- We’re creating an Open Data Institute, which involves many people in this audience.
- And the government is acting as first users, testing prototypes developed by the private sector to help bring forward new products and services from the lab to the marketplace.
Great steps have been taken, but real-time, reliable digital engagement must be a priority for all government departments, crowns and agencies.
Finally, Digital Canada 150 will include measures that celebrate our national story and what it means to be Canadian.
- Digital Canada 150 will support the creation of two new Heritage Minutes each year between now and 2017.
- The Canadian Museum of History and other government institutions will accelerate plans to digitize content and share more of Canada’s stories and treasures online.
- Digital Canada 150 supports organizations like Historica Canada to create a publicly accessible digital archive of Canada’s participation in the First and Second World Wars, the Korean War and peacekeeping operations as seen through the eyes of thousands of our brave veterans.
With the last Canadian troops now returning from Afghanistan, there is no better time to honour the sacrifice of our veterans.
So, there you have it, Digital Canada 150.
A plan for Canada to lead and succeed digitally:
- greater choice for consumers;
- a stronger digital economy, led by job creation and productivity;
- accelerated innovation and faster product development;
- new rules to protect Canadians in our digital world;
- more Canadian stories and Canadian content online; and
- much, much more.
But this is only the beginning.
The Government has created a plan.
But the next phase is yours.
Because this is about polytechnics, clusters, universities, start-ups, angel investors, apps developers, chambers of commerce, business leaders, community leaders…
…All coming together to make sure our digital nation continues to grow and prosper.
On the road to 2017, we will look back on 150 years of achievement.
A century and a half of nation building.
But we’ll also look ahead to all the opportunities and possibilities before us.
We will look to a digital future—and Canada will be well prepared. To seize its opportunities. Capture its potential. And exploit its possibilities.
Working together, we can prepare Canada for a new digital world and shape the course of our country for years to come.
A country ready to take on another 150 years of nation building.