Technological advances and innovation are key to improving economic growth and have generated incredible advances in quality of life. They have transformed entire sectors, from manufacturing to media, health to agriculture, and are contributing to improved productivity and access to services and supports. However, the benefits of this prosperity are not accruing equally and today’s economy remains one of stark contrasts and uneven playing fields. Bringing an equity and inclusion lens into innovation policy, and into how we set up the rules of the market more broadly, is both possible and necessary to build an economy that works for everyone in Canada and reaches its full potential.
In recent years, the goal of making the innovation economy more inclusive has gained traction, with federal and provincial commitments to “inclusive growth” and movements within and outside of the tech industry advocating for “tech for good”, the redistribution of tech-generated wealth through “tech taxes” and other vehicles, and embedding ethics into the design and operations of technology. However, these policy conversations still often occur in silos, without sufficient coordination between policy responses to support innovation, to make it more inclusive and equitable, and to address its negative impacts. The Brookfield Institute’s workstream on “An Innovative and Inclusive Economy” seeks to bring these conversations together, leading actionable research and policy analysis at the intersection of these goals.
To support this conversation, we are launching an article series under this theme, inviting leading experts from across the country and abroad to explore a range of topics, identifying areas where action is needed, and outlining potential solutions.
Our contributors write about the tech-hub cities at the frontlines of debates on housing affordability and inequality; the international labour force of crowd workers earning less than minimum wage for online content moderation and training algorithms; the challenges low-income individuals and households face in accessing the internet and online services; the “tech for good” movement and shifting norms around the neutrality of technology; and the discrimination experienced by workers seeking entry and advancement in STEM occupations. Together, this series begins to answer questions about the impacts of the innovation economy and identify approaches to making it more inclusive, more equitable, and of broader benefit to all Canadians.
To kick us off, check out our Letter from the Editor.