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Digital Policy Salon: After We Flatten the Curve, Where Will Canada Find Itself?

Welcome to the fifth issue of the Digital Policy Salon briefing. Heading into the holiday weekend, we
Digital Policy Salon
Digital Policy Salon: After We Flatten the Curve, Where Will Canada Find Itself?
By ICTC-CTIC • Issue #5 • View online
Welcome to the fifth issue of the Digital Policy Salon briefing.
Heading into the holiday weekend, we hope that we’re all able to connect with family and friends and remain calm as we teach our loved ones how to video conference. The end of last week brought the release of many truly stark numbers about how the COVID-19 outbreak is affecting our provinces and territories, amidst positive signals from British Columbia that its curve may be bending. Our policy updates this week include up-to-date insights into the federal and provincial status of employment, subsidies, and critical equipment, as well as leading perspectives on the future of the Canadian economy.
We’ve all been trying hard to read news about anything other than the COVID-19 crisis, but this week we’ve found that no matter what the story is, the coronavirus is in there somewhere. Our first perspective piece takes a look at SMEs navigating the pandemic, before turning to the long-term prospects of the Canadian leisure travel industry. In a quick flashback to pre-COVID emerging technologies, read on for a glimpse of our featured research: ICTC’s blockchain report and a new visualization of blockchain workers in Canada and where they studied.
This issue’s interview highlights Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, Canada’s smallest Smart Cities Challenge winner, and the work they’ve done to combat climate change and reduce energy poverty. Whether we’re a part of business, government, or the general public, the concept of the Smart City is having an increasing impact on all our lives. To help shape our national investments in urban spaces of the future, please take a moment to complete one of the following smart city surveys: Smart Cities Business Survey / Smart Cities Government Survey
- Tyler & Faun

COVID-19 Policy Updates 🇨🇦
The government has received 4.26 million employment insurance (EI) and Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) applications since March 15th, representing a staggering 21% of Canada’s labour force.
Similarly, government polling in Alberta suggests the province is headed for 25% unemployment, the highest unemployment rate of any Canadian province to date.
*For more information about Canada’s labour market, see Statistics Canada’s March 2020 Labour Force Survey, which comes out today.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivers a statement on Wednesday, April 8, 2020
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivers a statement on Wednesday, April 8, 2020
Ongoing shortages in personal protective equipment (PPE) and contract tracers
Ontario announced on Monday that the province has less than 1 week of ‘critical’ protective equipment left, as a new poll by IPSOS shows 1 in 4 Canadians aren’t following social distancing rules.
The US will continue to allow American companies to export N95 respirators to Canada, as Canadian manufacturing companies strengthen internal production of ventilators and other medical supplies.
The provinces are ramping up training for contact tracers who play a key role in tracking community spread of the virus. More than 300 new tracers have been trained in Alberta in the past few weeks alone, where demand for contact tracers has increased six-fold due to COVID-19.
Preparing for a post-COVID-19 economy
To date, the federal government’s fiscal response to COVID-19 clocks in at about 1% of GDP, approximately the size of the stimulus funding enacted following the 2008 financial crisis.
Much of this emergency funding – the CERB and deadline extensions for tax and student loan payments, for example – is in place for a period of 4 months. So, what happens when these emergency responses expire, and when the threat of COVID-19 begins to dissipate? How do we go about restarting Canada’s economy?
Prominent voices in Canadian policy point to three areas of required action:
  1. Boosting testing and tracing capacity; and
  2. Ensuring the right PPE and policies are in place to transition back to work safely and without re-spreading the virus.
  3. Activating more traditional forms of economic stimulus such as new funding for infrastructure to boost the economy.
The Canada Infrastructure Bank had a change in leadership last Friday, positioning the Bank to support more projects and create jobs, and signalling its role in Canada’s economic recovery post COVID-19. The Bank’s mandate is to invest $35 billion in areas such as trade, transportation, green infrastructure, and broadband over a period of 11 years. - Mairead Matthews | email
Our Perspective
Business Continuity in Lockdown: Four Stories of Navigating COVID-19
A change of scenery: Canadian leisure travel after the curve is flattened
Interviews in the Field
Mayor David Mitchell & Sustainability Planner Leon de Vreede of Bridgewater, NS
Mayor David Mitchell & Sustainability Planner Leon de Vreede of Bridgewater, NS
What We're Reading
Kenney warns Alberta headed for 25% unemployment
Zoom isn’t actually end-to-end encrypted
Research Visualized
One of Canada’s key strengths in blockchain is its pool of skilled talent. With large and active communities of blockchain developers, researchers, and entrepreneurs in Ontario and BC, and vibrant hubs emerging in Quebec, Alberta, and Nova Scotia, Canada punches well above its weight and is very well represented in the global blockchain community.
Canadian blockchain workforce in 2019 - Source: ICTC, 2020
Canadian blockchain workforce in 2019 - Source: ICTC, 2020
The figure above is a snapshot of the Canadian blockchain workforce in 2019. The outer blue arcs represent the relative size of the workforce in the various provinces, and the inner chords depict the flows of workers in those provinces from the location of their most recent education.
Two notable features that jump out in this illustration are (a) the highly interconnected and mobile nature of the Canadian blockchain workforce, and (b) the significant proportion of internationally educated workers. As with other knowledge-intensive and innovation-heavy sectors, Canada’s blockchain ecosystem stands to benefit from its commitment to diversity and globalism, especially when a lot of large economies have pivoted inwards in recent years. In order to retain this pool of high-skill workers and to ensure Canada’s continued place as a leader in blockchain development, we must strive to ensure we’re creating a welcoming climate for innovation and investment. - Akshay Kotak | email
Our Research
Building Canadian Consensus: Our Maturing Blockchain Ecosystem
Twitter Highlights
Digital Nova Scotia
Has someone from your organization had a chance to fill out our COVID-19 impact survey? We are collaborating with @ICTC_CTIC to inform our government funders and compare provincial results with national data. https://t.co/NC8TIDbm3i https://t.co/xeSa50vcp3
Tech West Canada
Here is a list of Provincial, and Municipal programs to support Canadian businesses affected by COVID-19. https://t.co/b2NURqMiFv
#TechWest https://t.co/dYs3lk2q7R
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