Appearance before the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology (INDU) by the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry – November 24, 2020

24 November 2020

COVID-19 Support for the Aerospace Sector

Question:

How is the Government of Canada supporting the country's aerospace industry through the COVID-19 pandemic?

Key messages:

  • The Government of Canada's COVID-19 Economic Response Plan includes measures to help Canadian businesses in all sectors, including the aerospace sector.
  • The government recognizes the importance of supporting sectors that have been hit the hardest by the pandemic.
  • The government knows that the travel and tourism sectors have been disproportionately impacted. This includes the aerospace sector, whose entire supply chain depends on strong demand for international travel that supports new aircraft orders.
  • A smooth economic recovery from the pandemic will require an unprecedented level of collaboration between the public and private sectors.
  • The government will continue to work with affected sectors to ensure that Canadian businesses have the support they need.

Supplementary messages:

  • Aerospace is one of the most innovative and export-driven industries in Canada.
  • It contributed over $25 billion in gross domestic product and more than 210,000 jobs to the Canadian economy in 2018.
  • The government is engaged with industry and has been proactive in:
    • Promoting Canada's aerospace sector;
    • Successfully securing strategic investments in advanced technologies;
    • Driving innovation; and
    • Maintaining highly skilled jobs in Canada
  • Canada will continue its effort to attract and support new high-quality investments in a number of sectors, including aerospace.
  • The government has announced nearly $885 million in funding to support the aerospace and space industries through innovation programs, including close to $387 million through the Strategic Innovation Fund.
  • The government also offers support to companies in the aerospace sector through the Business Credit Availability Program, the Canada Emergency Wage Supplement and the Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility, among other programs.

Background:

Aerospace Industry Context:

The aerospace industry is one of Canada's most research and development (R&D)-intensive industries, with R&D investment of $1.5 billion in 2018. The industry is national in scope with important aerospace clusters in each region of the country.

Following cross-country consultations with industry leaders, educational institutions and government representatives, the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada released its Vision 2025 report, Charting a New Course. The report provides recommendations on how the government and the aerospace industry could collaborate to ensure Canada's aerospace sector continues to be a global leader.

On June 1, 2020, the AIAC sent a letter to the Prime Minister and Minister Bains urging the government to take immediate action to support the Canadian aerospace industry. Building on the work of the AIAC's Vision 2025, the letter outlines a number of actions the government can take to help the industry overcome the challenges presented by COVID-19, including repeating its call for the creation of a Canadian aerospace sector strategy.

ISED Support for Research and Innovation:

Since October 2015, ISED has announced nearly $885 million in funding to support the aerospace and space industries through innovation programs, including close to $387 million through the Strategic Innovation Fund. This has leveraged over $10 billion in private sector investments.

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada provides research and development grants to academics working on aerospace research and the National Research Council provides research support services for aerospace projects (e.g., specialized testing, wind tunnel use).

In addition, the government ensures public procurement includes industrial benefits for Canadian aerospace firms through the Industrial and Technological Benefits Policy. Under this policy, companies awarded defence procurement contracts are required to undertake business activity in Canada equal to the value of the contract.

Airline Industry Context:

On November 2, 2020, WestJet indefinitely suspended operations in Moncton, Fredericton, Sydney, Charlottetown, and Quebec City and significantly reduced service to Halifax and St. John's. On June 30, 2020, Air Canada announced it would end service to eight domestic cities and cancel 30 regional routes.

Preparation and approvals:
Sector contact: Katie Durling, Director, Aerospace, 613-220-3794
Sector approval: Kasi McMicking, DG, IS, 343-291-2107
SCMS contact: Frédéric Baril, Director, 343-291-2782
SCMS approval: Jason Bett, DG, 343-291-3722

Automotive Industry

Question:

What is the Government of Canada doing to support Canada's automotive sector?

Key messages:

  • The automotive sector is integral to Canada's economic strength and supports the employment of over 550,000 Canadians.
  • Over the past few years, the Government of Canada has contributed $460 million to the automotive sector, and has attracted close to $10 billion in investments.
  • This includes the recently announced $1.8 billion investment by Ford, to establish Oakville as its largest North American battery electric vehicle plant.
  • Canada's historic strength in automotive manufacturing, combined with its world-class IT cluster and an abundance of natural resources, positions Canada to lead in designing and building the vehicle of the future.

Supplementary messages:

  • PCO Speech from the Throne messages:
    • Climate change threatens Canada's health, way of life, and planet. The government will continue to deliver climate action, and will immediately bring forward a plan to exceed Canada's 2030 climate goal. The government will also legislate Canada's goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.
    • The government will launch a new fund to attract investments in companies making zero emission products. The government will also cut the corporate tax rate in half for these companies, to create jobs and make Canada a world leader in clean technology.
    • The government will ensure Canada is the most competitive jurisdiction in the world for clean technology companies.
  • Ford's Oakville Assembly Complex:
    • The government's commitment towards Canada's automotive manufacturing sector and its workers remains unwavering. Ford's planned $1.8 billion investment in Oakville represents an opportunity for Canada to be a leader in electric transportation, including the manufacturing of vehicles of the future.
  • Reduction of production/closure of automotive plants:
    • The government is aware of the current situation affecting manufacturing operations. Returning Canada's automotive industry to pre-COVID-19 levels will not be easy, and will take time and collaboration between governments and industry.
    • The government's commitment towards Canada's automotive manufacturing sector and its workers remains unwavering, and the government will continue to seek solutions to help the industry grow. Canada has the opportunity to be a leader in zero-emission vehicle manufacturing, and the government will work tirelessly to support the industry's move towards electrification.
    • As part of FCA's recent agreement with Unifor, it will be investing $1.3 to $1.5 billion into its Windsor assembly plant adding a new line capable of producing electrified vehicles. This investment will solidify FCA's operations in Windsor, returning the third shift and adding 2,000 new manufacturing jobs.

Background:

In 2019, Ontario produced nearly 1.9 million vehicles, making it the second largest automotive manufacturing jurisdiction in North America, with only Michigan producing more. The automotive sector is one of Canada's largest manufacturing sectors, with over 550,000 direct and indirect jobs, contributes $16 billion to Canada's gross domestic product (GDP) and is one of the country's largest export industries. Additionally, Canada is uniquely positioned to be a leading destination for the design, development and manufacturing of the "vehicle of the future".

The Canadian automotive sector is export intensive, representing $81 billion (14 percent) of total merchandise exports. The sector is dependent on the U.S. market, with about 95 percent of exports destined to the U.S. Canada is therefore also a top export destination for almost all U.S. states with assembly plants. Canada's announcement of the Canada United States Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) outlines a renewed understanding between the CUSMA parties on the importance of our mutual trade relationship.

The year 2020 has been a period of uncertainty for the global automotive sector, with sales experiencing an unprecedented decline. Automotive manufacturers have been faced with having to find efficiencies and rethink their planned investments to adapt to the new fiscal reality.

Ford has recently committed to investing $1.8 billion in its Oakville plant to produce up to five electric vehicles including the associated electric vehicle battery packs. The electric vehicles are expected to roll off the line between 2025 and 2028. Similarly, FCA has recently indicated that it will be investing between $1.3 billion and $1.5 billion in Windsor, adding a new line capable of producing electric vehicles.

Preparation and approvals:
Sector contact: Jennifer McLean, Director, 343-291-4293
SCMS contact: Frédéric Baril, Director, 343-291-2782
SCMS approval: Jason Bett, DG, 343-291-3722
Sector approval: Charles Vincent, AADM, 613-291-2114

Connectivity pricing

Question:

How is the Government of Canada supporting competition and innovation among Internet service providers?

Key messages:

  • Affordable high-quality Internet access is a necessity for all Canadians.
  • Canada's networks have kept Canadians connected throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, but there continue to be challenges.
  • The Government of Canada has put into place measures to help both Canadians and Internet service providers as they cope with the effects of the pandemic.
  • Setting the right wholesale rates will help ensure competitive options, while maintaining continued investment in high-quality networks and expanded access for Canadians, no matter where they live.

Supplementary messages:

  • On wholesale access:
    • On August 15, 2020, the government announced the Governor in Council's (GIC's) response to the petitions received on wholesale access rates. It considered that the CRTC's rates do not, in all cases, appropriately balance the objectives of the wholesale services framework and that they would, in some cases, undermine investment.
    • At issue was a decision issued in 2019 that never entered into effect. Wholesale rates have remained the same since 2016.
    • The CRTC already had a process underway to review the rates. The government will continue to monitor the CRTC's public proceeding.
  • On mobile wireless overage charges:
    • Mobile wireless services have inherent capacity constraints that prevent unlimited usage at home.
    • To prevent bill shock, the CRTC's Wireless Code sets a $50 limit on overage charges, unless the account holder consents to greater data usage and associated overage fees.
    • The Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Services (CCTS) is empowered to address complaints if Canadians are concerned about overage charges to which they did not consent.

Background:

CRTC wholesale rates and Cabinet decision:

On August 15, 2020, the government announced the GIC's response to petitions by the large incumbent carriers requesting the GIC to refer back to the CRTC its decision on wholesale rates. The CRTC decision in question significantly lowers the rates that incumbents are permitted to charge smaller competitors for wholesale services. The decision applies retroactively to 2016, which would result in a $325 million collective refund from incumbents to competitors.

The GIC's response notes that it considers that the CRTC's rates do not, in all cases, appropriately balance the objectives of the wholesale services framework and that they would, in some cases, undermine investment. However, the GIC declined to formally refer the decision back to the CRTC given that the CRTC already has an ongoing review. The government has signalled that it will continue to monitor the CRTC's public proceeding.

The GIC decision has been well received by incumbents who have reacted publicly. Bell has characterized Cabinet's decision as vindicating its concerns. Consumer advocates and smaller competitors have reacted highly negatively, saying that Cabinet caved to incumbent lobbying. A number of them have raised prices in anticipation of the 2019 rates being increased. However, the 2019 decision in question has not entered into effect. Wholesale rates have remained the same since 2016.

On September 10, 2020, the Federal Court of Appeal dismissed the incumbent's appeal of the CRTC's August 2019 decision on wholesale rates. The court found the CRTC did not violate rules of procedural fairness or overstep its jurisdiction. The Court did not comment on policy or substance of whether the rates themselves were correct.

Pandemic matters:

ISED and the CRTC have been engaging with ISPs since the beginning of the pandemic on network resiliency and availability issues.

The government is continuing to work with industry, and has been adjusting regulatory requirements and timing so that industry can focus on near-term needs. Broad-based economic support for small businesses is available to, and assists, smaller ISPs. Direct financial support to Canadians is also helping them continue to pay their internet bills.

ISED has extended the payment date for annual licence renewal fees to September 1, 2020 to provide immediate cash flow relief. Further, ISED has allowed unused spectrum to be shared between telecommunications service providers to increase coverage and capacity. ISED has also accelerated the process to obtain licences.

The CRTC has introduced the Wireless Code to empower consumers in their dealings with wireless service providers. It addresses issues such as "bill shock" and unanticipated overage fees. If Canadians are concerned that their service provider is not respecting the Wireless Code, they can file a complaint with the CCTS, who is empowered to resolve such issues.

Preparation and approvals:
Sector contact: Andre Arbour, Sr. Director, SIPS, 613-218-5140
SCMS contact: Frédéric Baril, Director, 819-209-8791
SCMS approval: Jason Bett, DG, 343-291-3722
Sector approval: Patricia Brady, Director General, SIPS, 613-790-7126

Rural and remote broadband

Question:

What is the Government of Canada doing to support the development of high-speed internet in rural and remote areas?

Key messages:

  • High-speed Internet access is no longer a luxury, it is a necessity for all Canadians no matter where they live — that is why the Government of Canada wants to connect all Canadians.
  • The current crisis has highlighted how much Canadians rely on digital connections.
  • This is why the government has been investing in rural and remote Internet infrastructure, including $1.75 billion under the new Universal Broadband Fund.
  • The government has also entered into a $600 million agreement to serve the most remote areas through Telesat's low-Earth orbit satellite constellation.
  • These commitments build on the billions the government has already made available to help build out high-speed Internet so that these communities can succeed in the digital age.

Supplementary messages:

  • The government committed in the recent Speech from the Throne to accelerate connectivity timelines and the ambitions of the Universal Broadband Fund.
  • To meet those goals, the government has added an additional $750 million to the original $1 billion allocated to the UBF to accelerate timelines and to connect 98 percent of Canadians by 2026. This is an increase from the original target of 95 percent by 2026.
  • The government is providing this additional funding to advance large, high-impact projects, and to partner with the Canada Infrastructure Bank and other stakeholders.
  • To connect communities as quickly as possible, the Universal Broadband Fund includes up to $150 million for a Rapid Response Intake Stream, dedicated to projects that will be completed quickly — by November 2021.
  • The Universal Broadband Fund also includes $50 million to improve mobile services in areas that will benefit Indigenous peoples.

Background:

Amid the pandemic, a Canadian sample showed that home Internet traffic for downloads increased by up to 48 percent, and up to 69 percent for uploads. Approximately 4.7 million Canadians worked from home in March 2020. On March 27, 2020 Bell noted that Internet usage in 300 rural communities also surged 50 percent.

Universal Broadband Fund:

In Budget 2019, the government set a national target for 95 per cent of homes and businesses to have access to speeds of at least 50/10 Megabits per second (Mbps) by 2026 and 100 per cent by 2030, no matter where they are located.

The Universal Broadband Fund (UBF) has dedicated $1.75 billion, up from the original $1 billion, towards connecting Canadians living in rural and remote areas of the country to high-speed Internet as well as improving mobile Internet for Indigenous peoples. By adding an additional $750 million to the UBF, the government will be able to connect 98% of Canadians by 2026, up from its original target of 95% in that year. The program is now open for applications.

Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) Satellite Developments:

The government has partnered with Telesat and invested up to $600 million to secure LEO satellite capacity over Canada to reach the most remote communities. These satellites will provide high-bandwidth, low-latency broadband internet coverage to rural and remote regions of Canada, including the North.

SpaceX filed an application with the CRTC for a Basic International Telecommunications Services (BITS) licence related to its Starlink constellation under development. BITS licensees are entities that the CRTC has authorized to carry telecommunications traffic between Canada and any other country. Following substantial public comment, the CRTC issued the licence in October 2020. ISED has also received a number of applications for spectrum licences. ISED officials are currently reviewing these applications following the established evaluation process to assess them in a timely manner.

Other Actions to Improve Access:

License fee extension during pandemic: To further improve short-term access, ISED has extended the payment date for annual licence renewal fees to September 1, 2020 to provide immediate cash flow relief. ISED has also allowed unused spectrum to be shared between telecommunications service providers to increase coverage and capacity and accelerated the process to get licences.

CRTC Broadband Fund: In 2016, the CRTC established a fund of up to $750 million to help achieve universal access at speeds of 50/10 Mbps, as well as mobile coverage along major roads. The CRTC's fund is sourced from a levy on telecommunications service providers' revenues, and recently announced its first set of projects.

Connect to Innovate (CTI): Through CTI (announced in Budget 2016), over 50 rural and remote communities across Canada are already benefitting from completed projects that have the potential to bring improved internet speeds to over 28,000 households. There are currently broadband projects in detailed design and construction phases to improve connectivity for 100 communities and potentially 35,000 households by the end of 2020. Finally, 750 communities and 250,000 households are on track to benefit from access to improved connectivity with CTI projects to be completed by the end of 2021.

Preparation and approvals:
Sector contact: Andre Arbour, Senior Director, 343-291-0376
SCMS contact: Taylor Bildstein, Director, 819-639-0983
SCMS approval: Jason Bett, DG, 343-998-3529
Sector approval: Patricia Brady, DG, 343-291-2706

Satellite broadband

Question:

What actions has the Government of Canada taken to facilitate rural broadband through satellite telecommunications?

Key messages:

  • High-speed broadband coverage is crucial in Canada, and homes and businesses in some areas depend on satellites for service.
  • Budget 2019 committed $1.7 billion to support connectivity in Canada's satellite-dependent communities, including a $600-million deal to acquire low-Earth orbit capacity.
  • The Government of Canada has also invested roughly $95.5 million through its Strategic Innovation Fund to support investment in next generation satellite technologies.
  • Through the government's Connect to Innovate program and the CRTCs Broadband Fund, the government has also invested $80 million in satellite-based connectivity projects.

Supplementary messages:

  • The government is looking at all options to get Canadians connected as quickly as possible.
  • Providing Canadians with access to high-speed Internet will help close gaps caused by geography and increase equality of access to health, education and employment in a digital economy.
  • The government is committed to connecting all Canadians and we have created the conditions and made strategic investments to accomplish this objective:
    • Budget 2019 committed $1.7 billion in new broadband investments, including the new Universal Broadband Fund, as well as a top-up for the Connect to Innovate (CTI) program and support for low-latency Low Earth Orbit satellite capacity — technology that can help connect Canada's most remote communities;
    • Broadband infrastructure projects are also eligible for funding under the $2-billion Rural and Northern Communities stream of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program;
    • The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission's $750-million Broadband Fund will help to improve connectivity services across the country; and
    • The Canada Infrastructure Bank will seek to invest $1 billion to further leverage private sector investment to increase broadband access for Canadians.

Background:

In 2017, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) has implementing changes to its licensing framework to include low-latency Low-Earth-Orbit (LEO) satellite systems, allowing for the orderly integration of these innovative systems and to help ensure that Canadians can benefit from the additional coverage and capacity they can provide.

Budget 2019 announced investments to secure new, advanced, low-latency LEO satellite capacity to help bring reliable high-speed Internet access to even the most challenging rural and remote homes and communities in Canada.

The government has partnered with Telesat and invested up to $600 million to secure LEO satellite capacity over Canada to reach the most remote communities. These satellites will provide high-bandwidth, low-latency broadband internet coverage to rural and remote regions of Canada, including the North.

SpaceX filed an application with the CRTC for a Basic International Telecommunications Services (BITS) licence related to its Starlink constellation under development. BITS licensees are entities that the CRTC has authorized to carry telecommunications traffic between Canada and any other country. Following substantial public comment, the CRTC issued the licence in October 2020. ISED has also received a number of applications for spectrum licences. ISED officials are currently reviewing these applications following the established evaluation process to assess them in a timely manner.

Preparation and approvals:
Sector contact: Shari Scott, Director, 613-986-0017
SCMS contact: Taylor Bildstein, Director, 819-639-0983
SCMS approval: Eric Dagenais, Senior ADM, 613-762-3041
Sector approval: Jason Bett, DG, 343-291-3722

Canada's investments in COVID-19 research

Question:

How is the Government of Canada supporting research and development (R&D) to fight COVID-19?

Key messages:

  • The Government of Canada supports Canada's researchers as they do critical work to protect the health and safety of all Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • As part of the government's more than $1 billion COVID-19 Response Fund announced in March, $275 million was dedicated to COVID-19 research and medical countermeasures.
  • Building on that investment, in April the Prime Minister announced an additional $1 billion for medical countermeasures and vaccine research.
  • The government knows that science is key to combatting COVID-19 and will continue to support scientists and their research, and follow their expert advice.

Supplementary messages:

  • PCO Speech from the Throne Messages:
    • Canadian researchers and scientists are contributing to Canada's effort with their knowledge and expertise.
    • In the long run, the best way to end this pandemic is with a safe and effective vaccine.
    • The government trusts science to lead the fight to develop a vaccine and to help protect Canadians until such a vaccine becomes available.
    • Until then, Canada must keep its guard up, using the tools that are available to Canadians now — such as testing, treatments and physical distancing measures.
  • On Canada's research into effective vaccines and treatments for COVID-19:
    • The health and safety of Canadians is the government's top priority. That is why the government is mobilizing Canada's world-class researchers to deliver rapid responses to fight COVID-19.
    • The government is also making significant investments in the development of vaccines and treatments against COVID-19 and in the diagnosis of the disease.
    • The COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force is comprised of vaccine and immunology experts and is advising the government on how best to support vaccine research in Canada and to help ensure Canadian leadership in vaccine development.
    • The COVID-19 Therapeutics Task Force is comprised of R&D and commercialization experts and is advising the government on how best to support therapies development in Canada.

Background:

On March 23, 2020, the Prime Minister announced $275 million to support the launch of Canada's Plan to Mobilize Science to Fight COVID-19, as part of the more than $1 billion COVID-19 Response Fund.

The core of this initial announcement was Phase 1 of funding for Medical Countermeasures (MCM), including funding for:

  • AbCellera (antibody-based drugs to treat and prevent COVID-19);
  • Medicago (work on plant-based vaccines);
  • VIDO-InterVac (enhanced manufacturing facility to reach the standard required for human vaccine production);
  • The National Research Council's (NRC) Human Health Therapeutics facility (developing and scaling-up promising vaccines for industrial production); and
  • Bluedot (digital health firm with early-warning technology for infectious diseases).

On April 23, 2020, the Prime Minister announced Phase 2 of funding for Medical Countermeasures (MCM), including an additional $1 billion in funding as part of Canada's Plan to Mobilize Science to Fight COVID-19. Project highlights include:

  • Canadian COVID Genomics Network (CanCOGeN) (genetic sequencing of virus samples and human host genomes);
  • VIDO-InterVac (pre-clinical testing and clinical trials to accelerate development of its candidate vaccine);
  • The NRC's Human Health Therapeutics facility (phase 2 of critical upgrades);
  • The Canadian Data Monitoring Initiative (coordinate and share pandemic-related data);
  • Canadian COVID-19 Siro-surveillance Consortium (national survey to inform national immunization strategies);
  • Canadian Immunization Research Network (CIRN) (vaccine related research and clinical trials); and
  • The National Microbiology Lab (NML) (Pre-clinical and Medical Countermeasures Facility).

This investment also included $600 million through the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) to support COVID-19 vaccine and therapy clinical trials led by the private sector; and $114.9 million through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research for research projects that will accelerate the development, testing, and implementation of medical and social countermeasures to mitigate the rapid spread of COVID-19.

On August 5, 2020, the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry (ISED), and the Honourable Anita Anand, Minister of Public Services and Procurement (PSPC), announced more than $19 million in funding through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), in collaboration with the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), to leverage the expertise of researchers in the natural sciences and engineering and their partners across Canada to address this unprecedented crisis. This investment will support 369 COVID-19 research projects, including work related to vaccines.

In the months since the March and April 2020 announcements of Canada's Plan to Mobilize Science to Fight COVID-19, the government has announced specific commitments under the Plan, providing funding through SIF to support the following Canadian companies:

  • Up to $175.6 million for AbCellera, announced on May 3, 2020 (antibody therapy discovery and the construction of an antibody production facility);
  • Up to $56 million for Variation Biotechnologies Inc. (VBI), announced on August 5, 2020 (accelerate VBI's vaccine candidate through pre-clinical studies to Phase 2 clinical development);
  • Up to $173 million for Medicago, announced on October 23, 2020 (advance Medicago's plant based virus-like particle vaccine through clinical trials and the construction of a large scale vaccine and antibody production facility); and
  • Up to $18.2 million for Precision NanoSystems Incorporated (PNI), announced on October 23, 2020 (advance the development of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate through pre-clinical studies to Phase 2 clinical trials).

Preparation and approvals:
Sector contact: Dianne Caldbick, Senior Director, SRS 343-291-2365
Sector approval: Michelle Gravelle, DG, 613-853-8740
SCMS contact: Taylor Bildstein, Director, 819-639-0983
SCMS approval: Jason Bett, DG, 343-291-3722

COVID-19 Exposure Notification App Advisory Council

Question:

What is the role of the COVID-19 Exposure Notification App Advisory Council?

Key messages:

  • The health and safety of all Canadians is the Government of Canada's top priority.
  • To help keep families and communities safe, the government made available a new mobile app to notify Canadians of potential COVID-19 exposure.
  • The COVID-19 Exposure Notification App Advisory Council was created to provide expert advice and ensure that the app meets the highest standards with respect to public health outcomes, technology, and privacy.
  • The Council includes people with varied expertise and perspectives in health, privacy, data governance, science, and innovation.

Supplementary messages:

  • On privacy and security:
    • COVID Alert is an exposure notification app, not a contact-tracing app. It notifies users if they have been near someone who later tested positive for COVID-19 without tracking a user's location or collecting personally identifiable information.
    • The app has no way of knowing a user's location, name, address, phone contacts, or health information. Nothing is shared by the app without a user's explicit permission.
    • The Privacy Commissioners of Canada and Ontario were consulted on the development of COVID Alert, and support its use by Canadians.
  • On accessibility:
    • The app was built with a focus on the user and an accessible design that is easy to use. It is designed to run in the background to minimize battery consumption without affecting a phone's operation.
    • While not all Canadians may be able to download and use the app, everyone can benefit. When a user receives a notification of a possible exposure, they are provided with advice on how to keep others safe. This protects communities by limiting the spread of COVID-19 and preventing future outbreaks.
    • COVID Alert is one part of the public health effort to limit COVID-19. The app does not replace manual contact tracing by local public health authorities or other important tools, including wearing a mask and physical distancing.

Background:

On July 31, as part of the announcement of the COVID Alert app, the government launched the COVID-19 Exposure Notification App Advisory Council. The Council, which falls under the responsibility of ISED and Health Canada (HC), supports effective rollout and broad citizen confidence in COVID Alert. COVID Alert is currently available for download from app stores.

HC leads the initiative and is responsible for communications and branding, privacy, and provincial/territorial engagement. Canada Digital Service (CDS), which falls under Treasury Board, is responsible for the development of the app that leverages the Apple/Google exposure notification Application Programming Interface (API) and the technical infrastructure behind the app (e.g., key server, diagnostic portal).

On October 5, 2020, the Prime Minister announced that the Government of Quebec confirmed that Quebec residents can now receive one-time keys from their health authorities to use with COVID Alert, Canada's COVID-19 exposure notification app.

On October 30, 2020 the COVID Alert app was updated to ensure that notifications provided are more closely aligned with current public health guidance and practice. The app now asks users who have tested positive for COVID-19 to provide the date of their symptom onset or their testing date, to provide a better estimation of the timing of when they may have been most infectious to others.

Eight provinces are currently onboard with the COVID Alert including Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Preparation and approvals:
SCMS Contact: Frederic Baril, Director, 819-209-8791
Sector Approval: Francis Bilodeau, SADM, SIPS, 613-415-6651
SCMS Approval: Jason Bett, DG, 343-291-3722

Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) support during COVID-19

Question:

What is the Government of Canada doing to support small and medium-sized businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Key messages:

  • Canada's COVID-19 Economic Response Plan has helped protect millions of jobs, provide emergency support to families, and keep businesses afloat throughout the pandemic.
  • Together, Canadians have helped contain the virus and safely restart Canada's economy so that it is better prepared for a sustainable economic recovery.
  • The Government of Canada has introduced a number of relief measures to help businesses support their employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • For example, the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy is providing eligible employers with a temporary wage subsidy for employees and it has been extended until June 2021.

Supplementary messages:

  • PCO Speech from the Throne messages:
    • Small businesses are the lifeblood of communities and the backbone of the economy.
    • COVID-19 has caused businesses across the country, both large and small, to rethink their approaches. Entrepreneurs and owners are looking at more digital options, more creative solutions, and more climate-friendly investments.
    • The government will help businesses adapt for the future and thrive.

Background:

Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA):

The 2020 Speech from the Throne committed to expanding the CEBA to help businesses with fixed costs. The CEBA provides interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits, to help cover their operating costs during a period where their revenues have been temporarily reduced. To be eligible, business must demonstrate that they have between $40,000 and $1.5 million in eligible non-deferrable expenses. As of October 22, 2020, more than 778,000 CEBA loans have been approved, representing a total of $31 billion in funds. On October 26, 2020, the government announced that the CEBA is now open to businesses using personal banking accounts.

Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB):

On September 24, 2020, Bill C-2 was tabled in the House of Commons. Once passed, C-2 would provide a CRB benefit of $500 per week for up to 26 weeks, to workers who are self-employed or are not eligible for EI and still require income support. This benefit would support Canadians who have not returned to work due to COVID-19 or whose income has dropped by at least 50%.

Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB):

On April 6, 2020, the CERB was launched to help Canadians who had to stop working for reasons related to COVID-19, or who were eligible for EI regular or sickness benefits. On August 20, 2020, it was announced that the CERB would be extended by an additional four weeks to a maximum of 28 weeks. The 2020 Speech from the Throne highlighted that 9 million Canadians were helped by the CERB. The government will be transitioning CERB recipients to a simplified Employment Insurance (EI) program, effective September 27, 2020, to provide income support to those who remain unable to work and are eligible.

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS):

The CEWS was introduced to prevent further job losses, encourage employers to rehire workers previously laid off as a result of COVID-19, and help better position Canadian companies and other employers to more easily resume normal operations following the crisis. The extension of the CEWS until June 2021, will continue to protect jobs by helping employers keep employees on the payroll and re-hire their workers. The wage subsidy would remain at the current rate of up to 65 per cent of eligible wages until December 19, 2020.

New Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) and Lockdown Support:

The new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy would provide simple and easy-to-access rent and mortgage support until June 2021 for qualifying organizations affected by COVID-19, was announced on October 9, 2020. The rent subsidy would be provided directly to tenants, while also providing support to property owners. It would support businesses, charities, and non-profits that have suffered a revenue drop, by subsidizing a percentage of their expenses, on a sliding scale, up to a maximum of 65 per cent of eligible expenses until December 19, 2020.

A new Lockdown Support measure supporting commercial tenants was announced on November 2, 2020. Once legislated, it would provide an additional 25 per cent through the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy for qualifying organizations that are subject to a lockdown and must shut their doors or significantly limit their activities under a public health order. Combined, this would mean that hard-hit businesses subject to a lockdown could receive rent support of up to 90 per cent.

Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA):

The CECRA offered forgivable loans to eligible commercial property owners so that they can reduce the rent owed by their impacted small business tenants by at least 75% for the months of April through August 2020. On September 8, 2020, the government announced that the CECRA would be extended by one month to include September 2020. As of early October, 2020, the government delivered over $1.8 billion in rent support, through the CECRA for small businesses. Rent assistance has helped over 130,000 small businesses, supporting 1.18 million jobs in Canada. The application process for CECRA for small businesses is closed.

Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP):

BCAP has now been expanded to support mid-sized companies with larger financing needs. It will provide loans of up to $60 million and guarantees of up to $80 million. Through the BCAP, Export Development Canada (EDC) and the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) will work with private sector lenders to support access to capital for Canadian businesses in all sectors and regions. BCAP loans have been extended until June 2021.The 2020 Speech from the Throne committed to improving the Business Credit Availability Program.

CanExport SME program:

On November 3, 2020, Minister Ng announced that with international travel restricted due to COVID-19, the CanExport SMEs program is pivoting to now help small businesses:

  • develop and expand their e-commerce presence by covering partial costs associated with online sales platforms and digital strategy consulting as well as advertising and search engine optimization;
  • attend virtual trade shows and other business-to-business events; and
  • navigate new COVID-19-related trade barriers by helping pay for new international market certifications and requirements.

Preparation and approvals:
Sector contact: Jennifer Pilon, Director, 343-291-3057
SCMS contact: Philippe Renoir, Director, 343-291-3865
SCMS approval: Jason Bett, DG, 343-291-3722
Sector approval: Etienne-René Massie, DG, 343-291-1882

Mobilizing Industry to fight COVID-19

Question:

How is the Government of Canada mobilizing Canadian industry to fight the COVID-19 pandemic?

Key messages:

  • In these challenging times, while ensuring the health and safety of Canadians remains a priority, it is also important to take advantage of opportunities to strengthen Canada's economy.
  • That is why the Government of Canada mobilized companies and industries; more than 1000 companies across Canada answered the Prime Minister's call to action in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • These businesses have re-tooled their operations to help produce personal protective equipment (PPE). The government continues to work with them to collect and donate existing equipment, and to combine resources to manufacture needed supplies more quickly.

Supplementary messages:

  • PCO Speech from the Throne messages:
    • The government will continue to build domestic capacity, while securing supply chains to keep Canadians safe and create jobs.
    • The first foundation of the government's approach is protecting Canadians from COVID-19.
    • The government will continue to have people's backs just like Canadians have each other's backs.
    • The government will also continue to work on getting Canadians the PPE they need.

Background:

On March 20, 2020, the Prime Minister issued a call to Canadian businesses and announced the creation of a plan to mobilize and support Canada's domestic manufacturing capacity to supply vital made-in-Canada protective gear and other medical equipment and devices needed to respond to the outbreak of COVID-19. Since then, over 6,500 businesses and individuals have responded to the call. ISED continues to respond to all offers of support received through the call to action, to assess how each can support the needs of Canadians and front line health workers. In addition, Canada's Innovation Superclusters have tapped into their networks of more than 2,400 member companies to help develop and manufacture face shields, masks, and testing kits. While ISED is aware of more than 1,000 Canadian companies that have retooled to produce PPE and related items, Statistics Canada has estimated that as of August 2020, over 5,400 Canadian businesses are involved in PPE manufacturing.

The government has also deployed industry and innovation programming, such as the NRC's Industrial Research Program, the Strategic Innovation Fund, Superclusters, and Innovative Solutions Canada to support companies in rapidly scaling up their production capacity in Canada. For example, to date, the Next Generation Manufacturing Supercluster (NGen) has funded 20 projects valued at over $54 million that will lead to the production of critically needed technologies, equipment, and medical devices, including ventilators and test kits.

ISED has seen early successes and Minister Bains has announced significant milestones under Canada's new procurement agreements with Canadian industrial suppliers of medical equipment, securing further PPE for our healthcare workers:

  • As of August, Medicom officially opened its new manufacturing facility in Montreal, and has begun the production and delivery of domestically-produced surgical masks.
  • As of early October, General Motors had manufactured 4 million masks.
  • All five Canadian companies contracted to produce ventilators have received Health Canada authorization.

As of early September, approximately 40 percent of the total value of COVID-related contracts were awarded to Canadian sources.

Building on the success of the Made-in-Canada initiative, the government continues to turn to Canadian industry in supplying the personal protective equipment needed by front line workers. For example, Canada recently issued two Made-in-Canada Requests for Proposals (RFPs) to secure additional supplies of both surgical masks and medical gowns.

Preparation and approvals:
SCMS contact: Frédéric Baril, Director, 343-291-2782
SCMS approval: Jason Bett, DG, 343-291-3722
Sector approval: Charles Vincent, AADM, 343-291-2114

Economic recovery

Question:

How will the Government of Canada ensure that the economy recovers safely and efficiently once the COVID-19 threat can be managed with a vaccine or other measures?

Key messages:

  • The Government of Canada's immediate responsibility is to protect the health and safety of all Canadians and ensure the sustainability of Canada's economy.
  • The government understands how hard Canadians are working to contain the virus, which has caused them real pain.
  • This is why it has introduced a number of important emergency financial supports to help Canadians weather the economic impact of COVID-19
  • Canada's economic recovery will build on these important supports, and the government will work with Canadians to build back better together.

Supplementary messages:

  • The government is acting, and will continue to act, decisively to support the economy and Canadians.
  • The government is using its fiscal firepower on things like the Canada Emergency Response Benefit and the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, so that Canadians, businesses, and our entire economy have the support needed to weather the storm.
  • The recent Speech from the Throne outlined how the government will shape our economic recovery, starting with, providing the necessary economic supports for all Canadians.
  • These broad-based measures will be reinforced with strategies to support the recovery of our key sectors and regional economies, as well as future-proofing the Canadian economy through strategic actions.
  • The government will work with Canadians to chart a path forward that seeks to rebuild critical sectors and drive the economy of the future. This means that the work to mitigate the economic impact of the pandemic and support recovery will be leveraged to improve Canada's future competitiveness and achieve key policy objectives such as fighting climate change or creating a more inclusive Canada.
  • All the government's work will reflect that the strength of the middle class, and the well-being of all Canadians, remain Canada's key measures of success.

Background:

Prior to the outbreak, Canada was doing well compared to its G7 counterparts, placing second in GDP growth and featuring historically low unemployment. The COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented economic shock to the global and the Canadian economies, but the impacts have been asymmetrical across sectors. While some sectors faced only modest decline (e.g. digital/green), others have ground to a halt (e.g. air sector, tourism).

The government has provided unprecedented support to Canadian workers and businesses to meet their immediate liquidity needs. In fact, Canada, in comparison to its G7 counterparts, has demonstrated the highest per capita share of spending in relation to direct/indirect liquidity measures to business. This is in addition to supports to Canadians and Canadian workers impacted by the pandemic mitigation measures.

However, if strategic interventions are not made, some of the impacts of the pandemic may prove structural and long-term — exposing existing fractures in our society and economic structures, with winners and losers. Many firms were not prepared for tectonic shifts required to continue operations throughout the pandemic (e.g. digital transformation), and we have seen disproportionate impacts on vulnerable populations.

This is part of why the Black Entrepreneurship Program was launched — to ensure that our economic recovery will focus on eliminating barriers for those who have faced structural inequities. This program recognizes the invaluable contributions of Black business owners and entrepreneurs to communities across the country. The government, along with financial institutions, is investing up to $221 million in their success. Helping them recover from this crisis and grow their businesses is essential to Canada's economic recovery and future prosperity.

The government has also made important investments to help traditional industries modernize. In October, it invested $295 million to secure 5,400 well-paying middle class jobs by transforming Ford Motor Company of Canada's Oakville Assembly Complex into a battery-electric vehicle (BEV) production plant. This type of strategic investment in Canadian innovation will not only secure good-paying jobs to fuel our economic recovery, but will also help ensure we can become a leading destination for the design, development, and manufacturing of the sustainable technologies of the future.

The government is also helping SMEs to pivot their business delivery to online solutions and adjust to the "new normal" of increased digital business delivery through investments like the $57 million dedicated to Digital Main Street. By working with provincial and industry partners to develop practical, on-the ground solutions, we can ensure our made-in-Canada small firms are future-proofing their business delivery in order to prosper in the digital economy and lead the way for a connected economic recovery.

Preparation and approvals:
Sector contact: Erin Lynch, Director General, 613-324-1939
SCMS contact: Frederic Baril, Director, 819-209-8791
SCMS approval: Jason Bett, DG, 343-291-3722
Sector approval: Francis Bilodeau, SADM, 613-415-6651

Sourcing and manufacturing COVID-19 vaccines

Question:

What steps has the Government of Canada taken to ensure Canadians benefit from a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible?

Key messages:

  • The health and safety of all Canadians is the Government of Canada's top priority.
  • The government is protecting the health and safety of Canadians by providing access to personal protective equipment, a strong health care system, and the right measures to limit the spread of the virus.
  • The government is taking steps to make sure that Canadians will have access to treatments and vaccines when they become available, and will be ready to respond quickly to future waves.
  • The government will continue to pursue all promising options to secure the supply of potential vaccines and protect the health and safety of Canadians.

Supplementary messages:

  • PCO Speech from the Throne Messages:
    • In the long run, the best way to end this pandemic is with a safe and effective vaccine.
    • Canada's vaccine strategy is about ensuring that Canadians will be able to get a vaccine once it is ready.
    • There are many types of potential candidates. Canada is exploring the full range of options.
    • The government has already secured access to vaccine candidates and therapeutics, while investing in vaccine development and manufacturing in Canada.
    • To get the vaccines out to Canadians once they are ready, the government has made further investments in its capacity for vaccine distribution.
  • On Canada's investments in sourcing and producing COVID-19 vaccines:
    • The government is working diligently to secure access to the best vaccine and therapy candidates being developed around the world.
    • It has announced deals to purchase large quantities of vaccine doses from AstraZeneca, Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline, Novavax, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Pfizer.
    • The government is currently negotiating similar arrangements with multiple other international vaccine sponsors.
    • On August 31, 2020, the Prime Minister announced funding to establish a new bio-manufacturing facility at the Human Health Therapeutics Research Centre in Montréal.
    • Through a public-private partnership, this new facility will enable the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) to increase vaccine manufacturing to up to two million doses per month by next year.
    • This will help ensure our country's ability to produce enough doses of the vaccine for Canadians, including front line workers, long-term care workers, and those at risk of becoming seriously ill if they contract COVID-19.

Background:

The government is working diligently to secure access to the best vaccine and therapy candidates under development abroad. It has announced deals to purchase large quantities of vaccine doses from AstraZeneca, Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline, Novavax, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Pfizer, and is currently negotiating similar arrangements with multiple other international vaccine sponsors.

These efforts to procure promising vaccines and therapies for COVID-19 from around the world are supplemented by initiatives designed to boost bio-manufacturing capacity here at home. These initiatives include:

Building a new biomanufacturing facility at the Human Health Therapeutics Research Centre in Montréal. As announced by the Prime Minister on August 30, 2020, this new facility will enable the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) to increase vaccine manufacturing to up to 2 million doses per month by next year.

  • Funding Canadian drug manufacturers such as Quebec City's Medicago, which is working on plant-based vaccines, Vancouver-based Precision Nanosystems Inc., which is working on an mRNA based vaccine and clinical trials, and Vancouver-based AbCellera, which is researching antibody-based drugs to treat and prevent COVID-19.
  • Funding public-sector and academic research centres with the potential to produce vaccines, such as the University of Saskatchewan's Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization-International Vaccine Centre (VIDO-InterVac) – where the government invested in an enhanced manufacturing facility to produce human-grade vaccines — and the National Research Council's Human Health Therapeutics facility in Montreal, which is working on developing and scaling-up promising vaccines for industrial production.
  • Creating a Vaccine Task Force to provide advice and insight to the government on such matters as prioritizing vaccine projects seeking support in Canada, attracting international vaccine candidates to Canada, and optimizing tools needed to develop vaccines.

Preparation and approvals:
Sector contact: David Willis, Acting Lead Major Facility, 613-415-4663
Sector approval: Guy Bujold, ADM, 343-571-0322
SCMS contact: Taylor Bildstein, Director, 819-639-0983
SCMS approval: Jason Bett, DG, 343-291-3722

Investing in Superclusters

Question:

What is the Government of Canada doing to make the Canadian economy more innovative?

Key messages:

  • The Government of Canada is committed to growing the economy and creating well-paying jobs.
  • The Innovation Superclusters Initiative is helping to build accelerated, innovative ecosystems that will take innovators further, faster through public-private collaboration.
  • The $950 million investment in the superclusters represents an ambitious co-investment with industry, and is projected to create more than 50,000 jobs and grow Canada's GDP by more than $50 billion over the next 10 years.
  • As of September 30, 2020, superclusters have approved more than 200 projects worth over $800 million and involving 630 partners, more than half of which are small and medium-sized businesses.

Supplementary messages:

  • PBO Report:
    • Since March 2020, superclusters have announced close to 100 projects representing a total project value of more than $350 million.
    • Superclusters have lived up to their promise of matching the federal investment by leveraging industry contributions. In regular stream projects, superclusters are exceeding the 1:1 leveraging target.
    • By incentivizing public-private collaboration, the superclusters are generating good middle-class jobs and growing Canada's economy.
    • The PBO's analysis that the program will create 27,000 direct jobs in 5 years substantiates ISED's analysis that the program is on track to meet its target of 50,000 over 10 years.
    • Superclusters have already helped create more than 6,100 new high-quality jobs at precisely the time Canadians need them most — during the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • The program invested over $100 million up to March 2020, in line with its spending plans, and is leveraging significant industry investment. The program forecasts that it will fully invest this year's funding as well.

Background:

In February 2018, the government announced five innovation Superclusters, in five areas where Canada has a potential for significant competitive advantage:

  • Scale AI Supercluster:
    • based in Quebec — brings the retail, manufacturing, transportation, infrastructure and information, and communications technology (ICT) sectors together to build intelligent supply chains.
  • Next Generation Manufacturing Supercluster:
    • based in Ontario, is building next-generation manufacturing capabilities, such as advanced robotics to position Canadian companies to lead industrial digitalization.
  • Digital Technology Supercluster:
    • based in British Columbia, is unlocking the potential of data to improve service delivery and efficiency in the natural resources, precision health, and manufacturing sectors.
  • Protein Industries Supercluster:
    • based in the Prairie provinces, is establishing Canada as a lead in plant protein and increasing the value of key Canadian crops — such as canola and pulses.
  • Ocean Supercluster:
    • based in Atlantic Canada, taps the combined strengths of the industries operating in Canada's oceans, including marine renewable energy, fisheries, aquaculture, oil and gas, transportation and ocean technology.

On October 6, 2020, the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) released a report entitled "The Innovation Superclusters Initiative — a preliminary analysis" that received media coverage from several national outlets. The report was based on information from early March 2020, and did not capture the significant progress in the program since then.

Preparation and approvals:
Sector contact: Barbara Gibbon, DG, Innovation Superclusters, 613-791-9341
SCMS contact: Frédéric Baril, Director, 343-291-2782
SCMS approval: Jason Bett, DG, 343-291-3722
Sector approval: Andrea Johnston, ADM, IC, 343-291-3565

Consumer Privacy Protection Act

Question:

What is the Consumer Privacy Protection Act and what does it aim to accomplish?

Key messages:

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed how Canadians live, work, access information and connect with each other, making digital technology more important than ever.
  • The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that Canadians' personal information is safe and secure and that their privacy is respected in these digital spaces.
  • On November 17 2020, the government introduced the Consumer Privacy Protection Act (CPPA) that will provide world-class privacy and data protection for Canadians.
  • The Consumer Privacy Protection Act consequences are among the strongest in the world for privacy law — ranging from administrative monetary penalties of up to 3 percent of revenue or $10 million, to fines of up to 5 percent of revenue or $25 million for the most serious offences.
  • Canadians will also have more control over their information, and enjoy more transparency on how it is used.

Supplementary messages:

  • Embracing digital and data-driven technologies is key to re-invigorating our economy by allowing Canada to create new business opportunities and high-value jobs in emerging sectors.
  • At the same time, digital technology presents risks, including to privacy. These risks are real and Canadians' trust in the digital world is crucial to prosperity in our new reality.
  • The new Consumer Privacy Protection Act gives Canadians more control and greater transparency when companies handle their personal information, gives them the freedom to move their information from one organization to another in a secure manner, and allows them to request that organizations delete their information.
  • The new Act is an important step to ensuring Canadians can trust that their data is safe and their privacy is respected, while allowing innovation that promotes a strong economy.
  • The proposed Act provides modern privacy protections that promote responsible use of data for today's digital and data-driven marketplace.

Background:

On November 17, 2020, the government tabled the Digital Charter Implementation Act, 2020.

The Act will include the creation of the Consumer Privacy Protection Act (CPPA), which replaces and modernizes Part 1 of the existing Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), and creates the Personal Information and Data Protection Tribunal Act, which introduces a new Personal Information and Data Protection Tribunal as part of a strengthened privacy enforcement regime.

It will also repeal Part 2 of the existing Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), which pertains to use of e-documents in the public sector, and replace it with the Electronics Documents Act, which will fall under the authority of a Minister to be designated by the Governor in Council.

The CPPA implements the government's commitment to strengthen the enforcement powers of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, and to provide individuals with more control over how organizations handle their personal information.

The government enacted PIPEDA in 2001 — before the advent of technologies such as social media and the Internet of Things. There is now widespread agreement on the need for wide-ranging changes to Canada's private sector privacy framework, in order to meet Canadians' privacy expectations, ensure the security of personal information safe, and maintain the law's alignment with the frameworks of Canada's close trade partners.

The new CPPA builds on the strengths of PIPEDA, while modernizing it for the economy of today and tomorrow. The Act would include measures to:

  • Clarify obligations to obtain meaningful consent from individuals;
  • Provide a framework for "data mobility" that will allow individuals to direct the transfer of their personal information between organizations;
  • Provide individuals with explicit rights to withdraw consent and request the deletion of their information;
  • Enhance the transparency of artificial intelligence systems;
  • Provide that organizations can undertake certain specified business activities without consent (where such activities would be reasonably anticipated by an individual);
  • Allow organizations to share de-identified data with public entities for socially beneficial purposes;
  • Clarify the rules for handling de-identified personal information, including a new exception to consent for research and development purposes; and
  • Recognize co-regulatory tools such as codes of practice and certification schemes as tools to aid compliance with the Act.

The CPPA would also significant strengthen the enforcement and oversight framework through new powers for the Privacy Commissioner of Canada and the creation of a new Personal Information and Data Protection Tribunal. The Commissioner will have the power to issue orders to organizations to ensure compliance with the Act, and to recommend that the Tribunal impose administrative monetary penalties for contraventions of the law. The maximum penalty for a contravention of the CPPA will be 3% of global revenues or $10M (whichever is higher). Companies that are convicted of a criminal offence under the Act will be subject to maximum fines of 5% of global revenues or $25M.

With the proposed CPPA, the government is advancing the Digital Charter, helping to enhance Canadians' trust and empowering them to reach their full innovative and economic potential.

Preparation and approvals:
Sector contact: Charles Taillefer, Director, 343-291-1774
SCMS contact: Frederic Baril, Director, 819-209-8791
SCMS approval: Jason Bett, DG, 343-291-3722
Sector approval: Francis Bilodeau, SADM, 613-415-6651

The 50 — 30 Challenge

Question:

What is the Government of Canada doing to encourage diversity in Canada's corporate world?

Key messages:

  • The Government of Canada is working with private sector and diversity advocates across Canada to develop the 50 — 30 Challenge.
  • The challenge will further advance inclusion and diversity in corporate Canada, which sets the foundations for economic prosperity from coast to coast.
  • Diversified boards and senior management teams help businesses generate and foster fresh insights, new ideas and creative solutions.
  • Participating companies will seek gender parity (50 percent) and significant representation (30 percent) of racialized persons, those who identify as LGBTQ2, people living with disabilities, and First Nations, Inuit and Métis as Canada's founding peoples, on their Board(s) and senior management.

Supplementary messages:

  • Studies have proven that more diverse teams at the board and senior management level are more likely to outperform non-diverse companies on profitability, increasing revenue and improving workplace productivity.
  • There is evidence that a diverse and inclusive workforce is not only good for equality but, is also good economics:
    • The most diverse companies — including gender, ethnic and cultural diversity at the Board and Executive Team levels — are now more likely than ever to outperform non-diverse companies on profitability (McKinsey, 2020).
    • Workplaces that are diverse and inclusive are twice as likely to meet or exceed financial targets and eight times more likely to achieve better business outcomes (Deloitte, 2018).
  • The government will be engaging companies that participate in the 50 — 30 Challenge, and could provide resources, incentives and funding to achieve their goals.

Background:

Since the start of 2020, publicly-traded corporations formed under the Canada Business Corporations.

Act (CBCA) are required to disclose to their shareholders, and Corporations Canada, statistics about representation of designated minority groups on their boards of directors and in senior management, and must disclose their diversity policies, including representation targets, or explain why they do not have any. The groups in question are, at a minimum, the four designated groups under the Employment Equity Act (EEA): women, visible minorities, Indigenous Canadians and the disabled.

The goal of the CBCA amendments was to address a lack of diversity in corporate leadership and management, while avoiding prescriptive measures and express targets or quotas. Following the virtual Summer 2020 Cabinet Retreat, the need to strengthen diversity among Canadian corporate leadership was identified as a priority. In response, the government is proposing a diversity challenge where corporations would voluntarily aspire to gender parity ("50%") on their corporate boards and in senior management, and 30% representation for other under-represented groups, particularly those designated in the Employment Equity Act. Participating companies would also commit to developing a plan with measures to meet 50 — 30 Challenge goals, and measure and report on progress.

The challenge is being launched in two "phases" – a soft-launch that was announced Monday, October 19 to announce the start of talks and collaboration with the private-sector, and a second hard-launch scheduled for mid-November to announce finalized challenge details with challenge partners and early-adopters.

Preparation and approvals:
Sector contact: Mark Lehman, DG, SIPS, 416-973-5001
SCMS contact: Frédéric Baril, Director, 343-291-2782
SCMS approval: Jason Bett, DG, 343-291-3722
Sector approval: Francis Bilodeau, SADM, 613-514-6651

Retail grocery and the Competition Bureau

Question:

Will the Minister direct the Competition Bureau to inquire into fees set by retail grocers?

Key messages:

  • The Government of Canada understands the challenges facing the food supply chain, especially during COVID-19.
  • The Competition Bureau, as an independent law enforcement agency, is aware of the concerns raised by food suppliers and will take action where there is evidence of anti-competitive conduct.
  • The government will continue to support the front-line workers, farmers and agricultural producers who deliver quality food to people's tables.

Supplementary messages:

  • The Competition Bureau (Bureau) is an independent law enforcement agency that addresses anti-competitive conduct in the marketplace in most sectors, including price-fixing, anti-competitive mergers and abuse of a dominant position.
  • While the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry can direct the Bureau to open an inquiry, the Bureau conducts its inquiries independently. Given the Bureau's role and expertise, it is generally best placed to determine whether an investigation is warranted.
  • Past investigation into the industry suggest that the current issues arise from an imbalance of bargaining power rather than anti-competitive conduct within the meaning of the law.
  • Food and grocery seller regulation is generally a matter of provincial and territorial jurisdiction.

Background:

In July 2020, Walmart Canada announced that it would increase fees to food suppliers to help fund $3.5-billion worth of upgrades to stores, distribution networks, and online ordering systems, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of Walmart's competitors in the retail grocery sector — whose five largest participants hold most of Canada's market share — expressed an intention to follow suit.

Walmart has described these charges as a trade-off, as suppliers will ultimately benefit from industry growth. Farming and processing stakeholders issued a statement in August 2020 arguing that fees and penalties imposed by retailers would result in lower investment and product innovation.

In October 2020, for similar reasons to Walmart, Loblaw announced additional fees for larger suppliers scheduled to take effect in 2021. Sobey's declared that it would not be increasing fees, a measure its CEO found "repugnant", and that it was open to the idea of industry regulation.

On August 11, 2020, Yves Perron, the spokesperson for agriculture, agri-food and supply management for the Bloc Québécois wrote to Minister Bains highlighting complaints raised by food suppliers with respect to fees imposed by retail grocers. The letter called for support to the agriculture and agri-food industries in light of their present challenges, exacerbated by COVID-19. Mr. Perron asked that Minister Bains mandate the Competition Bureau to inquire into the matter.

The Bureau studied similar issues in a 2014-17 investigation into the business practices of Loblaw, and whether they constituted an abuse of a dominant position. The Bureau's investigation centered on a concern that certain policies (such as price adjustments due to competitors' advertisements, or charge-backs after supplier price increases) may have incentivized suppliers to disadvantage other retailers, and to otherwise engage in conduct that would lessen the intensity of competition among retailers.

The Bureau closed its investigation in 2017, without finding sufficient evidence to meet the criteria set out in the Competition Act to seek remedies before the Competition Tribunal. In a position statement about the review, the Bureau noted the difference between the exercise of bargaining power vs. truly anti-competitive conduct (i.e. directed at competitors for the purpose of undermining competition rather than legitimate business reasons).

While inquiries into anti-competitive conduct are normally opened by the Commissioner of Competition on his/her own initiative, they can also be triggered through a statutory direction given by the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. This method of opening an inquiry does not affect the Bureau's discretion as to how or whether to proceed further with the inquiry. As the Bureau has the expertise and mandate to intervene in such cases in the public interest, intervention by the Minister is rare.

Food suppliers have called for the imposition of a mandatory code of conduct applying to grocery retailers, such as exists in the United Kingdom. However, regulation of specific industries generally falls to provinces and territories in Canada, thus any federal role would be non-legislative.

Preparation and approvals:
Sector contact: Paul Morrison, A/Director, Corporate, 613-862-2025
SCMS contact: Frederic Baril, Director, 819-209-8791
SCMS approval: Jason Bett, DG, 343-291-3722
Sector approval: Mark Schaan, Associate ADM, SIPS, 613-793-6564

Canada's Innovation and Skills Plan

Question:

What steps is the government taking to promote greater innovation and a more skillful workforce in Canada's economy?

Key messages:

  • The government is helping establish Canada as one of the most innovative countries in the world and fostering a culture of innovation.
  • Over half a million children are now learning to code to help them achieve high-paying jobs.
  • More than 975 rural and remote communities now benefit from new or improved high-speed Internet.
  • The government invested $2.3 billion in 69 Strategic Innovation Fund projects that will help create and maintain 67,000 jobs.
  • The government will continue to make Canada a world-leading centre for innovation, to create well-paying jobs and to strengthen the middle class.

Supplementary messages:

  • The government's programs have already generated significant benefits in many areas. For example:
    • with the support of CanCode, over half a million children now learn coding in school, a skill that will be highly sought in the future;
    • the government has invested $2.3 billion, in 69 projects innovative projects under the Strategic Innovation Fund. This has leveraged total investments of $44.1 billion and helped create and maintained 67,000 jobs;
    • Over 30 companies and organizations are working with the government on the 50-30 Challenge to encourage companies of all sizes to increase parity and diversity on their Board of Director and Management Teams; and
    • over 975 rural and remote communities across the country, including 190 aboriginal communities, benefit from new or improved high-speed Internet access thanks to the Connect to Innovate program. That is more than triple the number of communities initially targeted.
  • The government is working closely with business to drive innovation, competitiveness, and economic growth through six industry-led Economic Strategy Tables (ESTs). Canada is already seeing the benefits from these partnerships, as the ESTs were pivoted to create the Industry Strategy Council. The Council, comprising the six Chairs of the ESTs and other key industry leaders, were called upon to identify the scope and depth of COVID-19's impact on industries and inform government's understanding of specific sectoral pressures; as well as to serve as a means to coordinate business communities' input on the impact of COVID-19.
  • Diversity is Canada's strength, and the government is working to create opportunities for all Canadians to contribute and share in Canada's prosperity.
  • The government's coordinated suite of federal innovation program platforms (i.e., Regional Economic Development Agencies, Strategic Innovation Fund, Trade Commissioner Service, Industrial Research Assistance Program, and Innovative Solutions Canada) helps to ensure that high-quality innovative firms have access to the tools they need to develop their products, commercialize and scale-up. This holistic approach to program delivery better positions them to compete internationally, and places thousands of highly skilled Canadians graduates in meaningful employment within the innovation economy.
  • The government will continue to mobilize industry to build domestic capacity, while securing supply chains to keep Canadians safe and create jobs in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Background:

Action taken to implement innovation and skills plan:

As industry-driven organizations, the Superclusters have demonstrated agility to deliver crucial supports directly to their ecosystems during the past six months to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. The Digital Technology, Next Generation Manufacturing (NGen), and Scale AI Superclusters allocated $60 million, $75 million, and $10 million respectively to fund projects for emerging needs, including the production of ventilators, test kits, face masks and shields, as well as projects to improve telemedicine, the management of workers in care homes, and improvements to food supply chains.

The government consolidated and expanded business innovation programming under the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) – a $1.26 billion investment over 5 years to ensure that Canada remains a top destination for businesses to grow. SIF has now been used a number of times to help the government fund projects of critical importance to our COVID-19 response and our post-COVID economic recovery:

  • $192M for a vaccine project;
  • $600M for vaccines, therapies and biomanufacturing;
  • $173M to establish a large-scale vaccine and antibody production facility; and,
  • $295M to support Ford Motors of Canada to manufacture battery electric vehicles.

Through the Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative, and with funds leveraged from the private sector, over $1.75 billion has been injected into Canada's innovation capital market through three streams of funding since launch in 2018. This has raised the profile of Canada's venture capital ecosystem considerably — Canada is now ranked third for VC investment according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The government's federal procurement program, Innovative Solutions Canada (ISC), was announced to support early stage R&D and late stage prototypes, and has played an important role in the engagement of industry in developing Canada's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. ISC partnered with a number of federal government entities to create funding opportunities related to environmentally-friendly PPE solutions, digital matching tools for federal programs, COVID-19 diagnostics, and solutions to help bring Canada toward a zero plastic waste economy.

Delivered through Innovation Canada, the Clean Growth Hub, launched January 18, 2018, aims to improve client services, connect stakeholders to international markets, track results, help innovators achieve targets and inform future government decision making. The Hub has already provided advisory services to over 1675 clean tech clients. In fact, membership in the Hub grew from 11 federal partners at its outset to 16 currently. This whole-of-government approach has meant that in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Hub has taken on a leadership role in identifying COVID-19 impacts to Canadian clean tech producers and users, sharing information among departments and agencies involved in clean tech, and informing federal COVID-19 recovery efforts as they relate to clean tech.

  • $295M to support Ford Motors of Canada to manufacture battery electric vehicles.
  • Through the Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative, and with funds leveraged from the private sector, over $1.75 billion has been injected into Canada's innovation capital market through three streams of funding since launch in 2018. This has raised the profile of Canada's venture capital ecosystem considerably — Canada is now ranked third for VC investment according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

    The government's federal procurement program, Innovative Solutions Canada (ISC), was announced to support early stage R&D and late stage prototypes, and has played an important role in the engagement of industry in developing Canada's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. ISC partnered with a number of federal government entities to create funding opportunities related to environmentally-friendly PPE solutions, digital matching tools for federal programs, COVID-19 diagnostics, and solutions to help bring Canada toward a zero plastic waste economy.

    Delivered through Innovation Canada, the Clean Growth Hub, launched January 18, 2018, aims to improve client services, connect stakeholders to international markets, track results, help innovators achieve targets and inform future government decision making. The Hub has already provided advisory services to over 1675 clean tech clients. In fact, membership in the Hub grew from 11 federal partners at its outset to 16 currently. This whole-of-government approach has meant that in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Hub has taken on a leadership role in identifying COVID-19 impacts to Canadian clean tech producers and users, sharing information among departments and agencies involved in clean tech, and informing federal COVID-19 recovery efforts as they relate to clean tech.

    The $125 million Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy was launched to support research to retain and attract top academic talent, and increase the number of post-graduate trainees and researchers studying artificial intelligence. This type of investment has given Canada an important international profile, which the government has leveraged by co-founding the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence with France.

    Preparation and approvals:
    Sector contact: Erin Lynch, DG, 343-291-1931
    SCMS contact: Frédéric Baril, Director, 819-209-8791
    SCMS approval: Jason Bett, DG, 343-291-3722
    Sector approval: Francis Bilodeau, SADM, 613-415-6651