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Digital Policy Salon: Responsible Recovery

Digital Policy Salon
Digital Policy Salon: Responsible Recovery
By ICTC-CTIC • Issue #15 • View online
Thanks for joining us in the 15th issue of the Digital Policy Salon newsletter.
Timely tech policy is our focus this week. In this issue, we take a look at moves from Canadian policymakers to focus on privacy, security, and responsible AI. One of our perspective pieces highlights the ongoing conversation around facial recognition technologies, while the other takes a look a Canadian company using AI to provide early warning of epidemics such as COVID-19.
As a complement to our research and policy team’s work on responsible innovation, we also highlight our most recent whitepaper this week: Economic Resiliency in the Face of Adversity. Read the paper for an update on the Canadian economy, as well as a synthesis of important policy recommendations for an inclusive, green, and vibrant economic recovery. In addition, don’t forget to check out our upcoming special event where whitepaper authors, including ICTC President and CEO Namir Anani, will be building upon the paper’s foundation in a digital panel.
- Tyler and Faun

COVID-19 Policy Updates 🇨🇦
Québec introduces new privacy legislation
Québec introduced new privacy legislation earlier this month. Among other things, if passed, the legislation would establish new rules to:
  • Prevent the transfer of personal data from Québec to other legal jurisdictions that don’t have the same level of data protection;
  • Make privacy impact assessments mandatory for any IT system that uses personal data; and
  • Give Québec’s privacy authority enhanced enforcement powers, including the ability to fine organizations up to $25 million or 4% of their global profit.
New legislation would also introduce new data rights for Québec residents, including the right to be informed when subject to automated decision making, and the right to be forgotten.
SpaceX applies to provide high-speed internet in Canada
US aerospace company SpaceX applied to the CRTC last week to begin providing high-speed internet access to Canadians. SpaceX hopes to use satellite internet to close the digital divide experienced by northern and rural communities. In 2018, just 40% of rural, Canadian households had access to high-speed internet—with speeds of at least 50 megabits per second—and today, many of these households are struggling to adapt to new work and learn from home environments because of their internet quality.
Government confirms new contact tracing app
The Canadian Digital Service and Ontario Digital Service, two government organizations, are teaming up with Blackberry and Shopify to develop a contact tracing app for Canada. The app will be piloted in Ontario as early as July 2nd before being rolled out across the country.
Health equality advocates specializing in the digital divide have highlighted concerns over whether the solution will be accessible to those most impacted by the disease. Canadians over the age of 60 account for 95% of all COVID-19 related deaths in Canada, but are also less likely to own a smartphone.
Canada and Québec move on responsible AI
ISED recently announced the opening of a new AI centre of expertise in Montréal, the International Centre of Expertise in Montréal for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (ICEMAI). ICEMAI will work alongside a corresponding centre of expertise located in Paris. The centres will focus on four research themes: responsible AI, data governance, the future of work, and innovation and commercialization. - Mairead Matthews | email
Our Perspective
Domain Expertise Crucial for Successful Medical AI
Facial Recognition Company Clearview AI Provides a Useful Case Study for the Right to be Forgotten in Canada
Digital Economy Annual Review 2019: Part 2
Special Events
Join Us For a Virtual Panel
What We're Reading
Google to launch Canada, US accelerator focused on women founders
Research Visualized
On April 30th, the Canadian Parliamentary Budget Office estimated that direct COVID-19-related expenditures will reach $147 billion CAD by March 31st, 2021. These costs are on top of the regular drop in revenue and rise in expenditures associated with a sharp economic contraction (the PBO estimates an inflation-adjusted GDP contraction of nearly 12% in the 2020-21 fiscal year). Combined, this pushes the 2020-21 fiscal year budget shortfall to $260 billion, more than 10 times last year’s deficit.
With pre-crisis federal debt (excluding provincial debt) at approximately $700 billion, the PBO’s Yves Giroux said that it is “not unthinkable” to assume that federal debt could exceed $1 trillion this year. These deficits push Canada’s federal debt-to-GDP ratio upwards. The fiscal year 2020-21 will see this ratio change course from 31% (and falling) to 48% and rising. Such a leap in the debt ratio throws Canada’s fiscal position back to the late 1990s when austerity measures paid down unsustainable debts accumulated from the 1970s. Despite growing debt, however, Canada’s debt-to-GDP ratio is still comparable to other similar countries. 
Federal Government Debt to GDP Ratio - From Economic Resiliency in the Face of Adversity, ICTC, 2020 (sources of data: OECD & PBO)
Federal Government Debt to GDP Ratio - From Economic Resiliency in the Face of Adversity, ICTC, 2020 (sources of data: OECD & PBO)
Our Research
Economic Resiliency in the Face of Adversity: From Surviving to Prospering
Twitter Highlights
Mark your calendars: Startupfest 2020 is BACK, broadcasting LIVE from Old Montreal, July 15-16 with a studio audience! Learn more and register here (virtual attendance is FREE with registration):
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