Indicators and targets: Investing in digital technologies

 Jobs and innovation: Tracking progress and results


  • Increase investment in ICT as a percentage of GDP to 3% by 2025, making Canada competitive with international leaders

The rapid pace of change in today's digital and data-driven economy is creating enormous opportunities for economic prosperity and societal progress. Digital technology is changing our economy and our society—the way we access information, work, and connect with each other. Data is now a resource that companies use to be more productive and to develop better products and services, unleashing a digital revolution around the world. Canada's information and communication technology (ICT) sector is a growing segment of the overall economy (ISED, 2017), but falling ICT investment is causing Canadian firms to adopt new ICT technologies more slowly (ISED, 2017). ICT investment as a share of GDP has been decreasing since the early 2000s in Canada – from 3.1% in 2000 to 2.04% as percentage of GDP in 2017 (Figure 8.1) placing Canada at 16th out of 32 OECD countries in 20151.

In 2014, ICT investment per worker in Canada's private sector was 56% of ICT investment per worker in the U.S. Investment in computer software and databases on a per job basis in Canada was also half that of the U.S. equivalent in 2014 (CSLS, 2018).

According to the Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC), Canada's ICT sector invests more in research and development than any other sector (ITAC, 2014). In 2017, the ICT sector accounted for 34% of all business R&D expenditures in Canada. The ICT sector's R&D expenditures totaled $6.1 billion in 2017, falling 0.7% from the previous year (ISED, 2017). This performance places Canada among the top OECD countriesFootnote 1.

Figure 8.1: Information and communication technology (ICT) investment, as % of GDP

Text version
Year ICT Investment in Canada as percentage of GDP
1997 2.73%
1998 2.97%
1999 3.12%
2000 3.08%
2001 3.07%
2002 2.77%
2003 2.66%
2004 2.68%
2005 2.70%
2006 2.72%
2007 2.68%
2008 2.66%
2009 2.61%
2010 2.42%
2011 2.28%
2012 2.28%
2013 2.16%
2014 2.18%
2015 2.26%
2016 2.08%
2017 2.04%
Target (average of top OECD performers in 2015)
2025 3.00%


Current data on information and communication technology (ICT) capture telecommunications equipment, computer hardware and software. Emerging digital services such as cloud computing, internet of things, artificial intelligence and big data analytics are not fully or accurately captured. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Statistics Canada and other organizations are currently undertaking work to improve our ability to fill this data deficit to better measure the breadth, pace and consequences of the digital economy and global digital transformation.


OECD, Digital Economy Outlook 2017

Statistics Canada, Table 36-10-0098-01

Canada's ICT sector is also a large exporter, with about 77% of ICT products manufactured in Canada exported in 2017.  Overall, Canadian exports of ICT goods and services grew by 1.2% annually from 2012 to 2017 to reach $23.7 billion. (Figure 8.2). According to the World Bank, Canada ranks in the top 20 of OECD countries in terms of high-technology exports expressed as a percentage of manufactured exports (13%) in 2017 (World Bank, 2018).

Figure 8.2: High-technology exports, as a % of manufactured exports, 2017

Text version
Country Name High-technology exports, as a % of manufactured exports
France 23.5
Ireland 21.4
United Kingdom 21.1
Netherlands 18.6
Norway 18.4
Latvia 16.6
Estonia 16.1
Mexico 15.2
Korea, Rep. 14.2
United States 13.8
Japan 13.8
Hungary 13.8
Iceland 13.8
Germany 13.7
Sweden 13.2
Israel 13.0
Canada 12.9
Australia 12.8
Czech Republic 12.8
OECD average 12.2
Lithuania 11.7
Denmark 11.6
Switzerland 11.4
Greece 10.4
Austria 9.8
Belgium 9.5
New Zealand 8.6
Finland 7.8
Poland 7.7
Spain 7.0
Italy 6.8
Luxembourg 6.7
Slovenia 6.2
Chile 6.1
Portugal 5.0
Turkey 2.5


World Bank World Development Indicators