Speech Article from  Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

Archived - International Institute of Communications Canada 2012 Conference

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Speaking Points

The Honourable Christian Paradis, PC, MP
Minister of Industry

Ottawa, Ontario

October 30, 2012

Check Against Delivery

Thank you, Bernard, and good afternoon everyone.

Well, what a conference it's been. Again this year, the IIC has brought together the best people, the leading thinkers and the key players to discuss some of the crucial issues facing the critical telecommunications sector.

First, I want to congratulate Bernard and his team for their outstanding organization.

Over the course of the past two days, you've heard from presidents and CEOs of companies, professors and academics, content providers and senior government officials. All have provided their unique perspective on issues facing broadcasting, telecommunications and media production.

So I thought I'd use my time here today to outline our government's perspective and the role we are playing—and more specifically, my role as Minister of Industry—in ensuring Canadians reap the benefits of the latest technologies.

Our government begins from a single premise: A strong digital economy is fundamental to the future prosperity of Canadians. It's that simple and it's that important.

From this comes a clear commitment: To do all that we can to create the conditions for your success.

That begins with a strong, stable economy.

As you know, the global economic recovery remains fragile. Five years into a world-wide downturn, there is still tremendous uncertainty, with ongoing challenges in Europe, the United States and elsewhere.

Canada has not been immune, but we have come through the crisis better than most.

Today, we have the best fiscal position in the G7. And, of the G7 countries, we've seen the strongest growth in employment during the recovery.

In fact, since July 2009, employment has increased by almost 822,000 jobs. That means about 390,000 more jobs now than there were before the recession began.

We have a solid triple—A credit rating. And for the fifth straight year, the World Economic Forum ranked Canadian banks the soundest in the world.

We also have a plan to eliminate the deficit over the medium term.

We know that a strong, well-managed economy is necessary for what you do. Necessary but not sufficient. You need all Canadians to see the future the way you do: full of excitement, potential and transformation, thanks to digital technology. We share that need. We want all Canadians to enjoy the economic benefits and enhanced quality of life that information and communication technologies, or ICTs, represent.

But to encourage the adoption of ICTs, consumers and businesses need to have confidence in the digital marketplace. That's why we've taken a number of important steps, including:

  • modernizing copyright laws;
  • passing anti-spam legislation; and
  • beefing up privacy laws.

To encourage smaller firms to adopt ICTs, we've launched a strategic range of initiatives. But let me just touch on one: the Digital Technology Adoption Pilot Program.

This gives small and medium-sized firms access to expert advisors who help them integrate new digital technologies into their businesses.

The initial feedback from companies like Evans Consoles in Calgary and exactEarth in Cambridge has been very encouraging. And I hope this program will make a real difference in the daily operations of participating firms.

Our government understands the importance of the ICT sector and its 550,000 workers. At a time when Canada's future prosperity depends on innovation, this sector is among the largest investors in research and development.

Quite simply, it is an industry that, along with the communications firms you represent, is creating the future. And doing so every day with new ways to work smarter, more productively and more competitively.

As the world becomes smaller and more digital, Canada must be at the forefront of this evolving world, creating its technology, capturing its potential and reaping its rewards.

And that means driving innovative technology into every sector of our economy.

Take manufacturing. Just a few weeks ago, I was in Hamilton at the Conference Board of Canada's conference on manufacturing.

Here's a sector that is transforming itself by using sophisticated new technologies. Factory floors now look more like high-tech research labs, with state-of-the-art machinery and production lines driven by precision digital technologies.

Of course, for these transformations to take place, the innovative products and services that make them possible must be available when needed and as needed. Luckily, Canada is home to some of the best and brightest creators of digital technology in the world. I was delighted that Canada was recently given top marks by the Council of Canadian Academies for science and technology research, including in the area of ICT research.

Now we must ensure that the fruits of that research reach every corner of our economy.

Part of that means growing the companies that make up the ICT sector in Canada. How do we do that?

Over the summer, I met with many Canadian ICT and high-growth firms. And I heard some common themes: the importance of innovation, access to capital and opening doors to global markets.

I'm pleased to say that our government is acting in all of these areas. In the case of financing, for example, we're investing $400 million to provide early-stage risk capital and to foster the growth of larger pools of venture capital.

One of the keys to developing a digital economy is ensuring that there is adequate spectrum to meet the growing demands of mobile broadband. I know this is something that you discussed earlier today, and it's an area where our government has already taken significant steps.

Last year at this event, I told you how important it was for the government to get the 700 and 2500 MHz auctions right. I also said that decisions about how we auction this valuable spectrum would not be made lightly.

After careful consideration, I announced the policy framework for those auctions. We are determined to provide competition for, investment in and timely access to new technologies.

A further round of consultations was launched on the auction format and conditions of licence. We heard many different views. These are being analyzed, and decisions will be announced early in the new year.

At the same time, we know additional spectrum will be required to meet the demands of the wireless sector. We are already looking beyond the upcoming spectrum auctions at future demand for mobile broadband capacity and which bands might be used to meet it.

That is why we will soon be launching consultations on the use of spectrum for backhaul services. This will help ensure that capacity keeps up with the exponential growth of broadband networks.

Of course, increasing the supply of spectrum for wireless carriers is only one element of our strategy to meet mobile broadband demand. We also need to improve the efficiency of spectrum use.

We've already seen the marked improvement in efficiency between 3G and LTE. We need continued private sector investment in the latest technologies to make the best possible use of limited spectrum resources.

Spectrum efficiency can also be improved by creating greater flexibility in how spectrum is shared. And so today I am announcing that we are opening up unused spectrum between TV channels—the so-called "white space"—for licence-exempt applications.

This will provide significant new options for low-cost Internet in rural areas, helping to bridge the digital divide. Over the longer term, it could mean improved home Wi-Fi and increased capacity of mobile phone networks.

But we cannot forget that spectrum is used for a wide variety of scientific and industrial purposes as well as for public safety. Accordingly, I will soon be allocating spectrum for aircraft testing around 1.4 GHz, the so-called "L-band." This will ensure that our aerospace industry has the spectrum it needs to remain a world leader in testing and certifying new aircraft.

Let me close as I began, with a clear statement of our government's commitment to growing the digital economy. We understand its potential for creating jobs, enhancing productivity and transforming industries.

In addition to investing in technology, our government is reducing taxes, developing talent and expanding trade.

But even as our government does its part in setting the conditions for a world-class digital economy, we also know that we can't do it alone.

All of us must play a role. The government—by getting the fundamentals right and setting the conditions for your success. And all of you—by continuing to bring more people into the fold:

  • connecting Canadians, wherever they are, to next-generation networks;
  • demonstrating the tangible benefits of digital technologies in boosting productivity; and
  • continuing to innovate, with cutting-edge products and services that you can sell to the world.

Conferences such as this play an important role. Not only do they bring all of the key players together but they also remind us of our common responsibilities, mark the progress we've made and point to the distance still to be travelled.

So thank you for your participation. I look forward to continuing to work with all of you as we build a better, brighter and more prosperous future for all Canadians.

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