The pandemic has changed how we live, work and use technology. Being a crisis of massive scale, it has altered consumer preferences, workplace norms and human interaction. Canadians have suddenly been forced to work remotely, conducting virtual meetings and embracing cloud security solutions, among many other changes that required swift adaption. Change can be challenging but it also provides ample room for new opportunities and new innovative solutions. As such, increased online shopping and e-learning have become the norm, telehealth and virtual health care have progressed at an accelerated speed and internet connectivity has become an essential service and must have. Without question, an increasingly digital economy will require a reliable and accessible digital infrastructure and major investments in sophisticated networks, cybersecurity and electronics — all while ensuring the digital divide will be bridged and urban, rural and remote areas and communities alike have reliable access to broadband, with rural broadband being top of mind.
Canada has a robust science and technology infrastructure, a diverse population and an abundance of talent in the digital space. We lead the world in AI research but we face intense competition to capitalize on our innovations and ensure long-term prosperity and sovereignty. As communicated in the Report from Canada’s Economic Strategy Tables on Digital Industries, it is time to foster a homegrown advantage by commercializing our own innovations. The same report also states that to foster its digital innovation and excellence, Canada needs to grow the number of large Canadian digital companies. Engaging Canadian citizens, businesses and governments to fully participate in, and benefit from, the digital world before us is critical to remain competitive in this fast-moving space.