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Digital Policy Salon: Social Entrepreneurship, Tech's Future Narrative

Welcome to the tenth issue of the Digital Policy Salon briefing. From Sidewalk Labs' departure from t
Digital Policy Salon
Digital Policy Salon: Social Entrepreneurship, Tech's Future Narrative
By ICTC-CTIC • Issue #10 • View online
Welcome to the tenth issue of the Digital Policy Salon briefing.
From Sidewalk Labs’ departure from the Waterfront Toronto Project to the rise of small entrepreneurs solving problems related to COVID-19, we’re seeing some significant changes for businesses and Canada’s data economy. This week, we’re launching the first article in our new series on the Future of Canada, where ICTC’s Nathan Snider investigates the technological innovations that will transform a post-COVID-19 Canadian society. Read the full article for insights from Namir Anani, ICTC President & CEO, and Dr. Dhirendra Shuckla, Professor of Technology and Entrepreneurship at the University of New Brunswick. In addition, our Canadian policy updates come with big news, as the first plans for infrastructure stimulus spending and immunity testing are beginning to be released.
While “what we’re reading” looks at the departure of a tech giant from a Canadian project, our interview in the field features the positive impacts of social entrepreneurship. Read on to learn about a unique social enterprise that connects refugees with remote opportunities in language teaching. Finally, we close with a featured look at our 2018 white paper, ICTC’s Perspectives on a Data Economy Strategy: Empowering Canada’s 4th Industrial Revolution, which provides recommendations for a National Data Economy Strategy, an essential cornerstone of responsible and competitive entrepreneurship in today’s world.
Tyler & Faun

COVID-19 Policy Updates 🇨🇦
This week, we’re following up with you on several recurring topics from past editions of our policy update: infrastructure spending, serological testing, and unemployment rates.
Federal Government Moves on Infrastructure Spending
In early April, we highlighted that more traditional forms of stimulus spending were necessary to boost Canada’s economy, such as new funding for infrastructure.
Two days ago, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Catherine McKenna announced new changes to the Infrastructure Canada’s ‘Investing in Canada’ plan, which supports projects related to public transit, green infrastructure, and broadband. Changes include:
  • $3 billion earmarked to support provincial and territorial projects that respond to COVID-19 infrastructure challenges;
  • A sped-up approval process for existing applications (worth $30.5 billion): hundreds of new applications have been approved in recent weeks;
  • A higher percentage of costs covered by the federal government for joint federal-provincial/territorial projects completed by the end of the 2021.
Health Canada Approves its First Serological Test
In late April, we discussed serological testing as a necessary perquisite for reopening the economy. Serological tests, which test for antibodies as opposed to the virus itself, help determine immunity levels across a given population.
On Tuesday, Health Canada approved the first serological test for use in Canada. Among other things, the test will help clarify:
  • Whether individuals who have been infected by COVID-19 become immune to the virus;
  • What percentage of the population may have been infected without showing severe enough symptoms to get tested; and
  • How the virus spreads within and between different groups.
According to current targets, at least 1 million Canadian blood samples will be collected and tested in the next two years.
Job Loss Data Published for April
April saw a 9.7% decrease in the number of full-time workers and a 17.1% decrease in the number of part-time workers across Canada.
Cumulatively, employment has dropped 15.6% since February; the national unemployment rate now stands at 13%. - Mairead Matthews | email
Our Perspective
From Adversity to Innovation: Technology and Policy in a Post-COVID-19 World
Interviews in the Field
Empowering Refugees Through Tech
Aline Sara, Co-Founder and CEO of NaTakallam
Aline Sara, Co-Founder and CEO of NaTakallam
What We're Reading
Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs scraps its ambitious Toronto project
Research Visualized
STEM Degrees Awarded by Institution 2010-2015. Source: Universities Canada, 2016, in ICTC, "Canada's Growth Currency," 2019.
STEM Degrees Awarded by Institution 2010-2015. Source: Universities Canada, 2016, in ICTC, "Canada's Growth Currency," 2019.
It is no secret that the Canadian population and workforce are rapidly ageing. In 2015, one in five Canadians aged 65 and older were working, a figure that is trending upward. However, with retirements quickly looming, it is increasingly important to attract and retain youth in in-demand fields of study, and eventually, in-demand roles in the digital economy. Among major universities across Canada, both graduation and enrolments have seen a rise in STEM fields in recent years. When it comes to STEM graduations, the University of Ottawa saw some of the highest growth in new grads from 2010 to 2015, scaling by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of nearly 10%. In terms of enrolment, some of the highest growth rates were seen among STEM programs at the University of Manitoba, growing by more than 8% from 2010 to 2015.
Read more about graduation rates and stem enrolment across Canada in Canada’s Growth Currency: Digital Talent Outlook 2023, pp. 44-45.

Our Research
ICTC’s Perspectives on a Data Economy Strategy: Empowering Canada’s 4th Industrial Revolution
Twitter Highlights
Tech Manitoba
If you're curious about the tech ecosystem in Manitoba, we've mapped it. This is an interactive map that gives you a birds eye view of who is who in Manitoba's Tech Ecosystem. This map is an evolving map. https://t.co/MsayPMzr9f https://t.co/Eb3laUeXkc
3:00 PM - 7 May 2020
ICTC-CTIC
Your Digital PULSE update is here! 📲Check out this week's episode on #smartcities. What does a smart city look like to you? #DigitalPULSE https://t.co/E6782KebxB https://t.co/X0X5i0IJPF
11:07 AM - 13 May 2020
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