Digital and Data Roundtable Summary: August 29, 2018—Conference Call

Hosted by Minister Bains
Area of Focus: Youth; Across all Action Areas

Highlights of Discussion

Privacy is a critical pillar of democracy and is essential to ensuring full participation in the digital economy. Citizens must be able to trust the underlying system in order to fully participate.

Data ownership and management is also a key component in the digital economy. While data has great value and benefits, care must be taken to ensure privacy and ownership rights are upheld and our democratic institutions are not undermined.

Finally, access is essential to participation in the digital economy, whether through basic infrastructure or increased educational, training and digital literacy programs. This is of particular importance for those living in rural and remote communities.

Key Opportunities / Considerations / Challenges

Trust and Privacy
As technology becomes more integrated in to our lives, maintaining privacy and trust is of great importance. It is important to maintain private spaces where free and open discussions is possible. In addition, the use of private data is changing the future of decision making. Canadians must be aware of how misleading data can undermine this process.
Big Data
Data is a valuable resource and there is potential for government to put big data to use, for example through leveraging aggregated health data. Care must to be taken to ensure benefits are open to small and medium-sized enterprises and not solely large tech firms.
Canada must be vigilant to ensure companies use data responsibility, in particular when it comes to access and mobility of data outside Canadian borders. Canadians should also own their data. Companies should be limited in what they can track and require transparent consent for how they collect and use data.  
Artificial Intelligence
Advancements in AI could be an opportunity to enhance government services for Canadians. However, we must consider the implications this might have on privacy. 
Access in Rural and Remote Communities
Canada needs to look at how it can support private companies, as well as citizens, in hard to reach communities who may not have access or digital literacy to participate in digital economy.
Responsive Education System
The rate of digital and data transformation is occurring rapidly and the education system may not be able to keep up. Must work with provincial/territorial partners to look at how we can bridge this gap and ensure kids have the skills they need when they leave the education system.
Early Education
Programs such as CanCode that help teach coding as well as digital literacy are fundamental. Canadians need to be learning at an early age about the digital economy, privacy concerns, digital literacy, etc. early on.

Ideas / Outcomes

Open Educational Resources
The use of open source data, including access to high quality resources and online textbooks, helps to eliminate barriers to accessing education. Currently the focus is on resources at a post-secondary level, however, these resources could be expanded to resources for kids in secondary and primary level. This could be an initiative explored through the Tri-Council (CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC).
Learning Centres
In smaller communities, including those in the North where access and connectivity are issues, extended funding for learning centres could help connect students and community members with computers and digital literacy programs.
Accessible Internet
Building off WiFi technology that creates hot spots in public spaces, the technology could be scaled to cover larger areas in rural and remote areas.