The federal government says funding needs to focus on privacy protection, better technology, faster Internet connectivity.
Time to tech:
The Canadian government finally released its long-awaited digital strategy that aims to leave more than 98 per cent of Canadians with access to high-speed Internet service, one of its main initiatives focusing on the country being a leader of digital technologies by 2017.
To achieve these goals, the federal government is spending $305 million to extend and enhance wireless communication services. On top of that, the strategy calls for a $500 million investment from the Business Development Bank of Canada, with $300 million allotted to digital tech companies, and the other $200 million for businesses adopting the new technology, according to the CBC.
Industry Canada Minister James Moore unveiled the Digital Canada 150 strategy on Friday at Open Text Corporation in Waterloo, Ontario – a city which is rapidly becoming a leading tech hub in Canada.
“Connecting Canadians is about ensuring that Canadians across this country have access to wireless technologies and high-speed technologies at the most affordable and competitive prices,” Moore told the CBC.
Digital Canada 150 includes 39 initiatives, centralized on technology regulation, according to Industry Canada. Among its highlights, the strategy aims to provide 98 per cent of Canadians the ability to access high-speed Internet connections, as well as enhance security for online banking, transactions, and privacy protection.
Industry Canada says that the strategy is a step of action to “end price discrimination,” envisioning “a country of connected citizens armed with the skills they need to succeed.” Furthermore, Industry Canada says the vision for a technologically-thriving country centres on five key pillars: connecting Canadians, protecting Canadians, economic opportunities, digital government, and Canadian content.
However, despite the federal government stepping in the right direction to improve global communication and technological strategies across the country, Digital Canada 150 is not a perfect plan.
An article from IT World Canada examines that Digital Canada 150 has certain “undefined promises, such as ‘Canada’s wireless policies will connect Canadians with competitive prices, more choice in services and world-leading technologies in all regions of the country,’ and ‘the government will optimize the use of publicly owned wireless airwaves to provide Canadians with the access they need on the devices they choose.’”
280,000 rural households across the country will have their Internet connections expanded to 5Mbps, which is enough to stream high-resolution videos online without interrupted buffering; these households are gaining access to high-speed Internet for the first time, according to Moore. However, most urban areas of the country already have access to Internet that is double, sometimes triple that speed, and critics at the Financial Post have pointed out that the plan is “a dial-up strategy for a broadband world.”
According to the Financial Post, OpenMedia executive director Steve Anderson said parts of the strategy, like giving rural Canadians high-speed Internet and more wireless competition, aren’t new. “This reads like the digital strategy for the last five years, not the for the five years ahead,” Anderson told the Financial Post.
Despite input from the public, the government is going to continue with the plan, beginning with a $36 million investment in repairing, refurbishing, and donating computers to libraries, non-profit organizations, and small aboriginal communities, the Financial Post reports.
Moore also said that his plan to table the Digital Privacy Act next week is well under way, with the intent of giving the privacy commissioner new powers and responsibility in enforcing and protecting the privacy of individual Canadians.
“We have to make sure that Canadians have confidence that their online presence and their online transactions are secure and that their privacy is protected and that their families are safe from online threats and cyberbullying,” he told the CBC.