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Digital Policy Salon: Changing Our Habits at Work, Online, and On the Road

Welcome to the 18th issue of the Digital Policy Salon weekly briefing. This week, we're talking about
Digital Policy Salon
Digital Policy Salon: Changing Our Habits at Work, Online, and On the Road
By ICTC-CTIC • Issue #18 • View online
Welcome to the 18th issue of the Digital Policy Salon weekly briefing.
This week, we’re talking about transitions in behaviour: online shopping, digital engagement, platform work, and e-bike sales are all growing in popularity, and each of our interviewees and featured authors has a fresh and informed perspective on the policies and plans we need in order to adapt. We’re particularly excited to bring you a new piece of research, Loading: The Future of Work, on the remote, gig, and platform economy: read on for a taster of that report’s findings in our data visualization of the week. For a change of pace, in this week’s “what we’re reading,” we hear about author Nassim Taleb’s perspective on whether COVID-19 is a so-called “black swan,” with talking points from ICTC Senior Economist Ryan McLaughlin.
If you like this newsletter, don’t forget to check out today’s special event on cybersecurity talent, demand, and workforce development featuring a panel of Canadian cybersecurity professionals.
- Tyler & Faun

COVID-19 and Tech Policy Updates 🇨🇦
Retail sales up in May with huge spikes in online shopping
Retail sales increased 18.7% from April to May, while online sales increased 112% since May of last year. Online sales now represent 8% of all sales in Canada, providing further evidence that COVID-19 has accelerated digital trends, such as the trend toward online shopping. The figure also highlights how important it is for retail stores to adopt websites with digital payment options for consumers.
Canada’s national parliament gets serious about going digital
The House of Commons has been meeting in hybrid, online formats since regular meetings were suspended in May. Currently, only MPs physically located in the chamber can vote to pass legislation, although that may be about to change—the Procedures and Affairs Committee recommended on Tuesday that the House adopt a secure voting system, which would allow MPs to participate fully in future proceedings, irrespective of their physical location.
Increased competition could lower cell phone bills as much as 50% in some markets
Canada’s competition bureau published a submission to the CRTC last week, finding that, “prices [could] be more than 50% lower for all cell phone users in markets where there is strong competition from regional carriers,” with “savings far greater than what some customers may have saved as a result of ‘unlimited’ plans.” 
US loses adequacy status under GDPR
The EU’s top court struck down the EU-US Privacy Shield this week, and with it, the US’ adequacy status under the GDPR. The court highlighted tensions between EU privacy law and US national security law that may prevent US companies from adequately protecting the privacy of EU residents. The decision has implications for Canadian companies that transfer EU personal data to the US, and has led several Canadian privacy experts to question whether Canada’s adequacy status will be looked at next.
Evidence mounts that COVID-19 antibodies disappear within months
A new study from the US has validated a UK study released last week, which warned that COVID-19 antibodies may disappear within months. US researchers found the virus’ antibodies to have a half-life of just 73 days, although it’s not yet clear what implications these findings have for the potential success of a vaccine, or for immunity to COVID-19 generally. - Mairead Matthews | email
Special Events
Join Us For a Virtual Panel
Interviews in the Field
“No Application Without Representation”
David Ryan Polgar, Tech Ethicist
David Ryan Polgar, Tech Ethicist
Cycling Towards Low Carbon Cities
Jill Warren, co-CEO of the ECF
Jill Warren, co-CEO of the ECF
What We're Reading
The Pandemic Isn’t a Black Swan but a Portent of a More Fragile Global System
Research Visualized
Drawing on mechanisms from digital platforms, the “gig economy” focuses on matching individuals seeking short or task-based employment opportunities with customers or employers seeking these types of services. Common examples of gig economy platforms include, Upwork, TaskRabbit, Amazon Mechanical Turk, and Fiverr.
Reasons for undertaking gig work in Canada, 2019 - Source: Bank of Canada, 2019
Reasons for undertaking gig work in Canada, 2019 - Source: Bank of Canada, 2019
Features of common gig work platforms - Source: OECD, 2019
Features of common gig work platforms - Source: OECD, 2019
The advent of big data and AI, along with advancements in connectivity, have boosted the proliferation digital platforms; as a result, the popularity of the gig economy also grew. As regional economies around the world face pressure to grow and improve productivity, digital platforms offer opportunities for alternative methods of economic participation and engagement. Yet, the impact of these platforms on vulnerable (often lower-skilled) workers has not necessarily been favourable. Acting as a global medium for skills and competencies, the gig economy has commodified some forms of labour.
Our Research
Loading: the Future of Work
Twitter Highlights
Vancouver Economic
As working remotely becomes a new way of life for global residents, issues surrounding connectivity & internet access are prevalent. @ICTC_CTIC's conversation with @FN_TechCouncil identifies impacts on First Nations communities & potential solutions
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