Canadians asked to trust in new digital, data-driven world

Canadian government launches roundtable consultations to put population's mind at ease


The Canadian government has launched roundtable consultations to better prepare the country’s population for the ongoing digital transformation it has been experiencing.

"Today, AI and big data are transforming all industries and sectors," commented Navdeep Bains, Canada's minister of innovation science and economic development. "They are presenting new opportunities for innovators to create jobs and generate prosperity. We have an opportunity to build a digital legacy for Canada and to become a global innovation leader."

The announcement has been made amid the boom in digital innovation the country has been experiencing. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Canada currently ranks fifth out of the 34 OECD member countries for creative thinking and ninth for problem-solving in a technology-rich environment.

These changes have made Canada a very attractive location for tech companies and startups. The city of Toronto alone produced more tech jobs (22,500) than San Francisco (11,540) and New York (5,370) combined between 2015 and 2016.

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While this influx of middle-class jobs has been good for the economy, the government feels the population is still wary about how these changes will affect the future of business, academia and civil society. Canada is fast becoming a data-driven nation and it is predicted that 8–9% of labor demands will be in jobs that currently do not exist. Economic changes such as 94% of Canada’s businesses now using personal data in some way or more societal changes such as young Canadians spending an average of five hours a day on the internet, have contributed toward this unease.

These roundtable consultations being hosted by the Canadian government is to help alleviate the above concerns being harbored toward their rapidly changing society, with concerns regarding personal data and privacy ranking high on the agenda.

The roundtables will aim to bring together digital and data thought leaders with a diverse array of the population so they may address these concerns personally. The hope is, by the end of the consultations, people will feel comfortable to collectively begin to work toward creating a highly competitive and digitally forward-thinking country.

"To spur digital innovation, investment and job creation in Canada, citizens must have trust and confidence that their data and privacy will be protected,” Bains explained. “This consultation is a first step in making this vision a reality."

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