Are these investments by global technology giants creating new jobs—or just taking away talent from Canadian startups? Can our cities absorb the growth of the innovation economy without becoming unaffordable and congested? Can we maintain our sovereignty over things as disparate as tax policy and our arts and culture in a world increasingly dominated by global tech platforms?
Most importantly, how can Canadians navigate the complexities and disruptions that are inherent in a rapidly-changing, technology-driven world?
Abandoning or ignoring the innovation economy is not an option. There is no turning back.
Over the past two decades, technological-driven growth has become the dominant driver of new economic activity around the globe. In this new world, ideas, ingenuity, and talent are paramount. The companies—and countries—that understand how to create, protect, and commercialize these assets stand to reap tremendous gains. Conversely, failing to do so risks economic stagnation and decline.
But how Canada responds to this challenge is a choice. Smart policy can unlock our country’s potential and ensure that we are poised to capture the highs, while mitigating the lows, of the innovation economy.
To this end, here are four key policy challenges Canada must address to fully unlock the potential of the innovation economy:
1) Ensuring no Canadian gets left behind. While predictions of a jobless future remain overblown, many Canadian workers remain at risk from technological disruption, leading to anxiety, underemployment, and potential unemployment. In addition, even relatively diverse sectors like the tech sector still show large gaps in terms of pay and participation along gender, race and ethnic lines.
In a global competition for talent, it will be critical that Canada maximizes the potential of all its workers and ensures no one gets left behind.
2) Ensuring all parts of Canada can benefit. Around the world, the clustering effects of the knowledge economy have led to the rise of superstar cities and an increasing divide between urban and rural economies. Additionally, variations between regional economies and between more traditional and knowledge-based industries feed division, conflict and economic alienation.
Canada has the potential to shape an innovation-driven economy that includes all parts of the country, mitigating regional tensions and harnessing technology to create economic opportunities for all Canadians.