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CIF 2016: Panel 3 – Broadband access and the skills gap


– [David] Mike is going to come over,
and please tell us who you may be, and report. Tell us what you’ve
come up with. Table 14. – [Man 1] All right. We’re table 14.
We are clearly the best table because we were picked first.
– Yes, of course. – We clearly have the best CIRA leadership
at our table, so remember that. And we have an intern, so interns rock. So
we did notice that we do want more speed for everyone, not just for some. But we
don’t think too much. Being too greedy is a bad thing and that lack of
infrastructure is causing a bigger divide among people. We discussed the
issue of seniors and their access, and we thought that was significant. We
can’t just only focus on the middle of the bell curve, we have to take care of the
ends as well. We also talked briefly about the fact that higher speed gives us more
room for innovation. In other words, if we only have slow speed, we can only
try slow speed ideas. We have higher speed and then new ideas will come. And we need
to have enough for everybody before we really push on the speed thing. And speed,
we keep saying the word speed and I think what we all really meant was better
because we recognize that just high speed is not got those latency issues or
not has that consistency issues. So whenever we say the word
internet speed, we mean internet better. Better in all forms, upload as well as
download as well as latency as well as consistency. And I think that’s about it. – Okay. Who can argue with that? I agree.
All right. Table number…on the other side of the room, table number 3. Table
number 3. Where have I got three? There’s table 3. And here comes
the microphone. – [Woman 1] Well, I have a loud voice
usually but not right now. – Well, we got the microphone, don’t
forget because we’ve got the webcasters are watching, so they’ll hear
you with the microphone. – Of course, thank you. So we had a
discussion sort of a recap of where Canada ranks now, and then a little discussion
sort of emerged around jurisdictional responsibility for advancement of the
internet in Canada, which made me think that…and we had a more fulsome
discussion about the concept of trying to find some social or economic drivers.
So the one that came to mind was a social driver that involves multiple
jurisdictions and that would be health care. So if you think about an
impetus for advancing, not only the penetration but also the quality of the
Internet in Canada, the opportunities for health care, which necessitate both high
quality as well as extensive penetration, is something that all levels of government
as well as a large proportion of the populace are extremely interested in. So, in terms of driving political action,
this would be a good source. And then, we talked about the
remote versus the urban, so there’s Telehealth and the remote
communities. There’s also initiatives within the healthcare system to keep,
which I think the previous speaker alluded to, to keep seniors in their homes in
terms of providing Telehealth monitoring in the homes which does produce rapidly
dramatic results in terms of keeping them out of the emergency room and out of
the beds in the tertiary care centers. Also, we talked about, you know, that… I
can’t remember what that third point was there. Yeah, I think I pretty well covered
that. Yeah, and we also…the other topic we just started to touch on before you
resumed was public-private networks and remote communities and to what extent
that is in fact taking place in Canada. I think we were a little bit data
challenged on that topic. – I hope I’m not preempting anybody’s
reporting here but you mentioned jurisdictional issues, remote
communities. And one other thing, if you’ve read all the mandate letters,
and that’s my job, I had to do it. And it was interesting reading, let me
tell you, is that right across every single minister is new focus on aboriginal
issues. And the federal government, of course, in last budget provided a great
deal of money for infrastructure on our First Nations and Inuit Communities.
And I’m wondering, I don’t know, maybe this is a discussion for a report,
or for me, or for those in the business, to what extent are capital investments
being made in remote First Nations Communities for broadband. Of course, as
you bring a fiber line or if you bring some broadband to some remote communities,
presumably, you will then help the non-native communities next door.
Did you touch on that [inaudible]? – Yeah, we did. We did actually focus
somewhat on aboriginal communities for the reason you’ve decided. Although mandate
letters may be new in Ottawa where I’m from in British Columbia, they’re not new.
– They’re not new at all. Exactly. – And aboriginal issues figure in all the
mandates of all of the ministers. Plus, we have the First Nations Health
Authority which has taken over what was previously, and I believe it’s only in
British Columbia, what was previously under aborigine Indian Affairs in
northern. Yeah. – Yeah. BC is a model in many ways and
maybe some of those relationships. – So, yes, the remote discussion to come
out of servicing aboriginal communities but they’re not only aboriginal
communities that are remote. – Right. Exactly. Okay, thank you. Table
number 9. Table 9 swinging back again, which is in the center of the room. If
there’s a microphone, handy. Here comes the microphone. – [Man 2] As a somewhat diffuse discussion
but basically three points. – All right. – First, discussion around if we have to
do it again, would we do it the way we’re doing it? And that there’s a contrast or a
stress between maximizing shareholder value in carriers and the government’s
role of keeping nets as neutral and healthy as possible. That was one theme.
Second theme is some sort of champion was required to…and the real question is,
why do we need a champion? And I think we’re not doing as well in
network development as we might like. Which led to the third point which was,
the centrality of communications networks is not yet fully perceived as an issue.
Mandate letters are talking about all kinds of traditional industries and yet
the centrality of better communications networks is not yet perceived
as being sufficiently important, which led to a conclusion that we need
some kind of digital strategy which is forward-looking and coherent. – Thank you. I think Chris mentioned
that in his summing up on a national broadband strategy. It’d be a useful thing
to think about. Can I just ask you about your champion required? What was the
tables sort of thinking on that? Are we thinking jurisdictional, a private
sector, a particular individual like a minister? What was your thinking on…what
kind of champion are you envisioning? – We didn’t specify the solution, and I
think people would might have different ideas at the table as who or what force
that would be, but that needs to be something to start thinking
about this and developing… – To drive discussions, sure.
– Yes. – Okay, great. Who knows, maybe Byron,
that’s one more thing you can add to CIRA’s list of things to do.
Champion all of this. There we go. All right. And I think we might have maybe
one or two more. Table 5 is next. Where is table 5? There is table 5. It’s
in the back. If the microphone can work its way down there. – [Lynne] Hi, I’m Lynne Hamilton.
Oh, I missed my bigger voice. And I am the president of the
Internet Society, Canadian Chapter. So the fabulous table number 5 had this to
say. We touched on exactly what you just mentioned with Chris Tacit talking about
the broadband federalism initiative and how it’s… The 500 million is great.
I mean, it’s forward-looking, it’s more than anybody’s ever offered, but
it really does to have to be the three orders of government’s responsibility in
conjunction with the ABA First Nations to really put together a strategy that’s
going to be comprehensive and forward-looking and 20 years out, much the
way we would have done with a railway back in the day. But unless that happens, we’re
going to continue to be leapfrogged over in the OCD rankings. So many at the table
felt that we absolutely needed more first for Canada again, that we need to be a
leader again. There is general agreement on where the Internet ends, so does the
prosperity. So especially in our native communities but especially in our room,
remote… The minute you have those slower speeds, the minute you are now not an
innovator, you are not moving forward. We love that the stuff that Coquitlam is
doing is…and we believe that that’s a model that needs to be replicated across
Canada and in many other municipalities, and that’s the role that municipalities
can play when we’re dealing with those three or four levels of government.
That the Internet is a necessity for prosperity, growth, and jobs, and that all
sort of filtered into that purpose. Then the next conversation was a lot about
the changing nature of unemployment and how distressing that was. And that we
don’t think that the interests of the kids coming out of school today are playing
into the kind of ICT jobs in the sector and it’s not a good match. The folks that
we’re pumping out of the schools aren’t meeting the needs of the jobs, which is
why even as those jobs are shrinking, and we heard a suggestion today, there’s
going to be, you know, a third of the people doing the work necessary because
you only need so many people now. The companies today are, you know, a tenth
of the size that they were pre 2000. And how are we going to make sure that
the education sector is responding and making sure that we’re not pumping out…
said the girl with the English degree, that we’re not pumping out many liberal
arts? I mean, somebody’s got to sell it, right, at the end of the day. I know
somebody in here is going to be brilliant and create the next app but I’m going to
sell it. So we can still have those folks in place. But we do need to make sure that
we are pumping out the grads necessary and that we’re doing it at the earliest levels
at things like coding in schools and all of those things need to be happening so
that we are making sure that there’s not only interest but we have the skill
match to meet the next generation jobs. – And a discussion on the gender issue
that often comes up when we talk about the skill match in this industry is it is
still heavily male for the engineering, etc., need coding for girls,
programs, things like that. – So you hit on…in my other job, I also
run a woman’s organization dedicated to getting more women elected. So it touches
my heart and we do want to make sure that…it’s hard to get women interested
in that kind of stuff and I think that has to start in kindergarten. My now, 11 year
old loves coding. We don’t call it that. We called it, you know, how to make
Barbie move when she was four, right? So it’s how do we make sure that the
education sector and other folks are making that palatable to young women
so they don’t see it as something else. We’re making sure that the educators are
pumping it out in a way that’s going to be compelling to the new young grads or
children of…right? But I think you’re absolutely right. – Okay. Well, thank you very much. That’s
great. Let’s see. Let’s try to squeeze one more in before we get to our next panel
discussion, and we’ll go to table number 10. Ten. If there’s a microphone…they’re
right down front here at table number 10. – [Man 3] Okay, we’ll make ours pretty
quick because we didn’t have a lot of time to talk about… [crosstalk] – The one big thing that came out of the
first panel was the…the thing we were really interested in was the spider web
graph and how well we did in open data. But the one thing that came out of that
was how well…the one question that came out of that was how well do we do
in terms of having that open data accessible on a broad spectrum. Is it
really only available to the big guys that can really process that data or is there a
way for smaller companies who are innovators to really have the resources
to process the types of data that are available? And I think when we had the
second panel up, you saw a lot of innovators on that panel, people like
Ice Wireless and…was it OneWeb? – OneWeb. Yes. – So when you have your innovators and
you’re not giving them access to the same tools that the big guys have, you’re
disabling the people that are changing, really changing the industry and
pushing the industry forward, right? So we really want to create a situation
I think where the people who will be the disruptors, the people that will drive
the industry forward do have access to all of the same tools that the
bigger traditional players have always had access to. – And that’s what the Internet’s supposed
to be all about. Giving peop…equalizing things. That’s great. Okay. Well, that’s
super. That’s some good stuff. I know the CIRA folks are going to
be…you’re taking all of this back. Some of your tables that didn’t get to
report this time, we have another sort of session for this later on. I’m going to
invite our panelist for our next panel up on the stage and we’ll get ready
to go for that in just a second. Hi. Hi, Sarah. How are you?
Yes. Excellent. I like that. It’s complicated, all these big panels.
I want to make sure I have the right names with the right biographies, etc. So what we’re talking about today then
is it just technology and infrastructure problem or are there other things,
more things that have to be done to position Canada for its full
participation in the new digital economy? Does everyone have access to broadband?
Are we producing the skilled workers that the digital economy needs? The OECD has
said that education and training systems are core to innovation and productivity,
including and realizing the benefits of the next production revolution. However,
OECD assessments show that on average, only one-third of all adults have the
skills necessary for a technology-rich environment. Data from CIRA’s survey
of IT decision makers supports this. In that survey, 4 in 10 said that it
is difficult for their organization to recruit or hire IT professionals. Almost
one half say their organization has had difficulty filling IT positions in the
last year. You heard Byron talk about CIRA where some of these jobs go unfilled for
months at a time. Almost 9 in 10, 88%, believe it is important that students are
taught basic programming and coding skills in high school. The ability to recruit and
retain skilled workers are most likely to be considered important for helping
Canadian technology companies compete globally. So those are some of the issues
that we’re going to dig into with this panel. And I’ll introduce the panel and
then we’ll hear from each of them first. Geoff White is a Counsel at the Public
Interest Advocacy Center, PIAC. I’ve used them many times. They’re a great
resource and a great help to journalists. And Geoff provides advice and
representation on legal and regulatory matters with the current focus on
telecommunications, broadcasting, competition, and privacy. Tanya Woods is
the Vice President of Policy and Legal Affairs at the Entertainment Software
Association of Canada, and she’s responsible for ensuring that Canadian
Federal and Provincial Policies and Legislations support the thriving
multi-platform video game industry in Canada. And it’s a big industry, folks,
for those who are not aware of it. Sarah Anson-Cartwright, right next
to…we’re going right down the line there, is with the Canadian Chamber of
Commerce, where she is responsible for policy development and advocacy
in the areas of skills, training, education, and immigration policy. That is
the sweet spot I think right now, Sarah, for a whole bunch of policy
discussions the feds are having. And Matthew Johnson is Director of
Education at MediaSmarts. He is the author of many MediaSmarts lessons, materials
for parents, and interactive resources. He’s a lead on MediaSmarts’ Young
Canadians in a Wired World project. And sitting way down at the end playing
the role that Chris played in the last group is Jeremy Depow, and he’s the
Executive Director and founder of Canada’s Digital Policy Forum. So Jeremy’s job…he
doesn’t know what he’s going to say yet because he needs to listen to everybody
else and then try and sum it up and provide us with some takeaways at the
end of it all. So that’s our panel. And again, welcome once more, I should
have said to our online audience. We have folks who are watching this via
webcast. All right. We’re starting with Geoff White. Geoff, lots of news about
gaps in the availability and issues with affordability in broadband. I’m assuming
you were…if you weren’t at those CRTC hearings, you were probably glued to
them to see what was being said. Give us your sense of where we stand.
Do you see some…first the gaps and some solutions? – [Geoff] Sure, we’ll do. Just, first,
thanks to Sarah for the invitation and thanks for your excellent moderation and
for taking away from Parliament Hill. It’s not like there’s any shortage of
drama there today. I should add to my biography in reference to Leighn [SP],
I am also a proud liberal artist. So I represent… I’m external counsel to
the Public Interest Advocacy Center, PIAC, which has been around for 30 years
advocating for the consumer and public interest in areas related to telecom,
broadcasting, privacy, and energy. I was co-counsel to a group called the
Affordable Access Coalition before the CRTC. So I was at the hearings and I was
also glued to those hearings and I’m still glued to them because it winds up in
about a week with final reply arguments. So the Affordable Access Coalition
consisted of about five groups: PIAC, two senior citizens groups, ACORN Canada,
which is a low-income advocacy group, and the Consumers Association of Canada,
which is a national consumer advocacy organization. CRTC was consulting and has
been consulting for almost a year now on how to define “basic telecommunications
services.” And that’s effectively in furtherance of one of the key
Canadian telecom policy objectives which is to render reliable and affordable
telecom services of high quality to all Canadians regardless of the
region that they live in. And so, the Coalition I represented
advocated to the CRTC basically that there’s four key steps that they should
do. They should update this definition of basic telecom service, and that’s
important because that definition basically sets an expectation for what
telecom services all Canadians can reasonably expect to access. So we said,
step one, please declare a broadband of at least 10 megabits per second download
and 1 megabits per second upload, if not 3, to be a basic telecom service.
Step two, create a deployment fund. There’s already a fund that exists to help
with telephone…providing telephone service to high-cost streaming areas.
Internet is so much more than the new telephone but the model exists to fund
telephone to higher cost service area. So we said, “Take that model, adapt it,
include broadband in that, and provide a subsidy to willing service
providers to go out to the hard to reach rural, X-urban remote areas, etc.
with that basic level of broadband.” Step three, implement a subsidy for
low-income Canadians because we offered a lot of evidence from the client group,
ACORN Canada, but also from the online forum and said, “One or two surveys that
we’d commissioned through Embrionix, that Canadians and low-income Canadians
are really hurting when it comes to paying for Internet service.” If they don’t
already have access, which is a huge problem especially in these rural and
remote areas, actually paying for broadband service is becoming a big
problem. The average Canadian household spends $204 a month…excuse me,
I’m off a little bit but I think it’s 204, around there, a month on communication
services. Low-income Canadians are reporting that they are sacrificing things
so that they can afford their broadband. And at another conference I was at, I
presented some of the handwritten testimonials of some of these people who
are saying this is incredibly important to us. This isn’t just about Netflix or
entertainment which has been used as a sort of a term to trivialize whether or
not high speed internet is a need or it’s just a luxury or a want. People talking
about sacrificing food budgets and medicine budgets to afford broadband,
I think that’s absolutely something we should be ashamed of. And so, the fourth thing that the
Affordable Access Coalition said to the CRTC is this, “You’ve got to do something,
okay?” The standard target that the Commission set in 2011 for 5 megabits per
second, which 5% of Canadians still don’t have access to, that’s no
longer going to cut it anymore. If you look at how many people
live on average in a household, three people, the number of connected
devices you have in a house, nine. The floor should be 10 megabits per
second and that’s actually what most Canadians already take for granted,
having access to at a minimum. I’m not talking about the maximum 1 gig
that you can get in downtown of certain cities. So the subject for me, it was
problems and solutions to the accessibility of broadband. So what
is…what do we mean when we say accessibility? When I hear that word, I
think accessibility is about five things. There’s accessibility in the sense of
access, physical access to a broadband service from your house. There are
socioeconomic access. I mean, can you actually afford to pay for your
broadband service? Can you afford it in the first place? Do you have to make
sacrifices to get it? Are you hurting in some way so that you can get access
to that vital service? Then there’s an accessibility in the sense of
accessibility for those who have perhaps different visual or hearing capacities or
learning disabilities and things like that. That’s not something the coalition
I represented focused on, but there were a number of very compelling
interventions from groups that advocate for persons with different abilities so
that they could also access broadband. And that’s to do with the accessibility in
terms of the visuals but also the functionality in terms of data caps and
things like that because some of the services that people may use require
a lot more bandwidth to enable that functionality. And then there’s access in
the sense of, the fourth access, in the sense of being able to put the
technology and the functionality to use. I mean, that’s just a, I guess,
a synonym for digital literacy. And finally, there’s access in the sense
of people actually taking full advantage of the connectivity assuming that it’s
there, and that I think is what the adoption issue is. It’s the digital
economy issue and it’s whether or not we can all start the next Google, and
Facebook, and Shopify from our basements. The Affordable Access Coalition was more
focused before the CRTC on the first two of those access barriers. The physical
access, making sure that facilities are there so you can actually subscribe
to the service, and then there’s the socio-economic access, the affordability.
And to address those proposed two funding mechanisms, looking at what had
already been done in Canada in terms of the plain old telephone service, but also
looking at what other industries I’ve been doing in other leading jurisdictions in
terms of paying for universal access and also supporting low-income Canadians,
and we proposed that the CRTC do this so we surveyed Canadians in terms of
their views on how they felt about some of these issues. Vast majority of Canadians
think all Canadians should have access to broadband no matter where they live.
The vast majority of Canadians think high-speed internet should be affordable
to low-income Canadians. The vast majority of Canadians are okay
with the idea of paying a little bit more every month to support this notion of
universal service, everybody having access to broadband, everyone, and low-income
Canadians having affordable access to it. Now, I’m not saying these are…anyone’s
sold on these ideas. There’s lots of criticism, there’s criticism about the
idea of 10. One being some in the industry say 10-1 is a ludicrously high standard
and 5-1 download is all you need. There are others that say, “You know,
that’s crazy. This is Canada. We’ve got to really shoot for the stars
and it’s got to be 100 down or 100 symmetrical, things like that.” But of
course, the CRTC has a very specific mandate under its legislation, the
Telecommunications Act and its focus really is on basic telecommunications
service. So that’s why we were focusing on what sort of that…it’s too high for the
industry but it’s too low for other people, that 10-1 minimum service to shoot
for. There are two divides in Canada. I’ve talked to, you know, the Affordable
Access Coalition is all matched to those two divides and it was very nice to hear
Minister Bains before the Empire Club recently talking about those two divides
in the sense that there’s people who don’t have access when they need it and
they want it, and there are people who are hurting when it comes to being able to
afford broadband. So I’m just going to wrap up by saying in terms of what… I
just want to wrap up by saying in terms of adoption, getting people to harness the
full potential of connectivity and digital skills, we said to the CRTC, “That’s not
really something you should prioritize. It’s not really in your legislation.” The
legislation and the Telecom Act is focused on existing users, not non-users. We think
there’d be a whole host of problems in terms of actually identifying people who
are interested in using broadband but don’t know how. In the surveys we
did, second to personal choice, affordability was the biggest issue
when it came to non-adoption. And there’s an FCC report from 2011 which
showed that affordability and cost is the biggest barrier to being online
and getting online. And we think also, you know,
there are still some people who say, “It’s not for me.” You know,
there’s a percentage of people who say, “I don’t know how to do it and that’s
why I’m not online.” But there are people who say, “I’m not online at home because
I have access at work,” or “I’m just not interested.” I think over time,
demographic forces are going to sort that out. It’s becoming increasingly impossible
to live these days without having those digital skills, and the school system is
starting to take up that cause, I believe, and I think we’re going to hear
more about that. But in terms of digital skills, I’ll just leave you this final
remark. The focus always seems to be on the digital economy and producing people
who are good at using these services. And the definition of digital literacy is
very much sort of skill and labor market focused. That’s entirely a valid concern
of everybody. But I think we need to take a broader look at digital literacy and
make sure that the people also understand the role of technology and shaping
democratic institutions and the role that technology plays in everyone’s life in
society, and start asking questions. And these are issues to do with privacy,
for example. Understanding the way networks are working, understanding the
way networks and technology can be used in abusive ways to sort people into different
categories. Now, that’s not my issue. I think it’s…there are a number of
academics who are taking up this cause but I’ll just challenge people when they’re
talking about digital skills and literacy to not ignore having a definition of
digital literacy that includes giving an expression to some of the values that
we’ve agreed as a collective society. [crosstalk] – I’ll just keep on air because I keep
thinking about these things. You may not know this but for the first
time, this parliamentary session, you can submit a petition electronically
to your MP and you can gather petitions electronically, digitally. That’s a first.
And of course, with the discussions about electoral reform, online voting
is part of it, and all this comes to, again, access digital literacy on
some basic acts of citizenship. English majors and coders usually meet
in the gaming industry, I’m assuming. This is where you get “I need the myths.
I’m going to encode the myths in the game” storytelling. Exactly. So Tanya Woods,
you tell us all about the… What is a huge industry? I don’t think you probably
evangelize about this a lot. This is a very…
– [Tanya] You’re doing a good job though. – Thank you. Because I have a son and
daughter who like to play a lot of games and they…
– And do you play? – Some. Not many.
– There’s no shame in it. – I know. So, Tanya Woods, tell us
about the industry in Canada. – Sure. So I have some slides because the
nerdy lawyer in me just needs to have slides to feel good about things. So
they’re here but there’s lots of pictures, I promise. You’ve done a good job
introducing me. So I’m not going to waste any time doing it again, but how many
people in the room play video games? On your computers? On your phones?
On other devices? That’s it. It’s good. The average player is 31 and
it’s divided almost evenly between men and women. So we aren’t boys in basements
anymore, and I’m going to share with you a little bit more about what we are. So our
organization represents the industry in Canada. We have 24 of the largest
employers, most successful companies in the world that we work with most closely.
So you see on the screen behind me. I hope that online you can see this as
well. Some of our big players which I’m sure many of you would know, but there’s
also some pretty successful independents that we’re really proud to have
in our kind of back pockets which is Roadhouse, Silverback, of course,
Other Ocean, United Front, and others that are spread across Canada.
So these are developers, publishers, distributors, console manufacturers,
and they’re employing over 90% of the people that are employed in the
industry. So here is a bit of a snapshot of the industry itself, 472 studios. We’re
growing. We’re growing like crazy in Canada. You can see the stats on
the right, it would be you’re right, up 143 since 2013 which isn’t that long
ago. We’re contributing three billion to the GEP in Canada, up 31% in the last
basically two years because this is with reference to 2015 numbers.
Most of our business is export driven. We’re the third…we don’t typically say
but we are the third largest industry globally with Japan and the U.S. leading
ahead of us, which says something. We don’t talk about how great we are very
often as Canadians but we’re really, really good at video games. And 36,500
people are powering that industry here and making it possible for us to be
really, really, really good. Why are we so successful? It’s a great question that I get asked
pretty frequently. I don’t know if anybody has some ideas but I can tell you that it
starts with our talent and our favorable business climate. So, Canada, if you
think of Montreal, Vancouver, Toronto, the East Coast, Nova Scotia, and
frankly, it’s scattered throughout the country, there isn’t really one central
space although all of those places would love to say it’s their people and
their town that make it the best. But we’re really, really talented people.
We’re creative, we’re hard-working. We want to be the best. There’s just
a drive and ambition like no other, and we’re willing to put in the work.
So it’s no surprise that, you know, Warner Brothers,
which is a very large organization, decided to stick its studio in Montreal.
And, you know, we’ve got a nice picture of the East Coast. Ubisoft just expanded out
to Nova Scotia. The campus at the bottom with the soccer pitch is EA. It had a
soccer pitch before Google did, I’m pretty sure. So they are. Just saying.
And of course, NHL is made in Canada, one of the all-time best sports games,
and our studios are very attractive, probably much like the place
as many of you work. But we have some problems. We need people.
We need people a lot more than maybe other sectors would like to say that they need
people, but the reality is there’s an organization called ICTC, which I hope
all of you know of. If not, we can talk about it later. But they’ve been doing
labor market research in Canada for a long time in the ICT space, and they’ve
identified at least 200,000 skilled ICT workers needed by 2020,
that’s less than 4 years. You can’t produce a dove in four years.
It’s almost impossible. If they don’t have the skills now, it’s
going to take a while to get them. I think the average stat that I saw last
was about 10 years to develop significant skills to be able to contribute in an
intermediate or high school position. So that’s not good. There’s a crisis.
It’s in fact, a global shortage which, Sarah, I’m sure is going to talk a little
bit more about, but it has impacted us. We’ve got about 1,500 vacancies coming up
in our industry. And the reality for us today is that we’re not just competing
anymore with ourselves, we’re actually competing with LinkedIn,
with Google, with Facebook, Shopify, I mean, all kinds of other folks
who want to gamify the experience for users because it’s fun, it works, and we
kind of invented gamification, I think. And so, what happens there is
we start losing our talent. And we’re not even just losing them to
other Canadian companies or companies based in Canada, but we’re losing them
globally because there’s just so much more attractive salaries or benefits or
what have you that we’re really struggling here. So our leadership position is very
fragile and we’re always looking to protect it. So why does this matter?
Like, we’re boys in basements, right? Why does this actually matter? And
there’s a lot of reasons why it matters that we have a talent shortage and a skill
shortage. And I’ve put up some pictures here just to kind of hope that this
resonates. But, you know, if I said to you, “What do you think this girl with the
headset on is doing?” How many of you would say playing a game? Don’t be shy.
Just a few, playing a game? Okay. Is she solving a world problem?
We hope she is but she’s not. She’s actually climbing Mount Everest
with her virtual reality headset, and she’s getting some physical activity,
and she’s experiencing something she may never get to experience in her life. And
the experiential learning that’s happening in large part in our industry directly but
also peripherally is pretty impressive. I mean, you can take anybody from anywhere
where they’re physically located and take them to do anything around the world. And
that’s amazing when you really think about it. I know courtside seats at a Lakers
game is kind of my objective but I think that’s coming too so, you
know. But you can also find new ways to educate people, and video games in our
industry has seen a lot of success around the world. So in the UK, kids are super
active playing video games and learning digital skills. Here, we’re seeing them in
the gym. This is girls because there is a heavy emphasis to get more girls engaged
in tech skills and break down some stereotypes early, but they’re learning
coding there and they’re not even on a computer. They’re not typing away, they’re
not coding. They’re using their feet in learning directional logic. We’re also seeing a lot of crossover of
our industry into other sectors like health, defense, and many others. So it’s
not boys in basements anymore and we’re incredibly relevant to develop talent
and to drive innovation. And of course, in the corner shot,
you see some dudes in suits. You might recognize them but there
are a lot of parliamentary folks. So we’re really trying to explain why the
failure of our industry would be a huge failing in Canada, and we really need
to keep the momentum going. So wouldn’t you rather be connected?
I mean, I came in this afternoon. Unfortunately, I missed this morning’s
presentations. Lynne could have probably done this for me given her comments at the
tables. Thank you. I have to say less now. But the reality is I think we’d all rather
be connected. And understanding the possibilities of connection only come, of
course with access, but they need skills. I mean, if you don’t have the tools to
paint your picture, if you don’t have the know-how or the comfort level to pick up
something that’s not new and not familiar, you’re probably never going to do it,
and then everybody loses out. It’s not just you. So we’re big proponents
of connection, we’re big proponents of empowerment and enabling people
to take up their dreams. To that end, I do want to give a nod to CIRA because
we looked at skills, we started really practically working on it, we’ve got a
study we’ve done which I’ve got copies of if you’d like them, at the late end of
last year, we knew there was a new government, of course, and we knew this
might be our chance to move the needle on the dial and actually make a real impact
and a real difference in Canada. And we had seen what was going on around
the world. The video game industry has basically, on its own, it’s very proactive
with schools, it has been with decades, gone out and decided, “You know what,
if we teach girls to make games…,” specifically in putting an emphasis on
girls because the way the education system is now, there’s a bias may be against them
perhaps in the curriculum that’s available or the opportunities they have to learn
video games. That, “If we teach these girls, we’ll show them it’s not that
scary. We’ll build some confidence and hopefully, they’ll just soar.” And so, we
set up Girl Force in Ottawa which is just that, it’s the video game industry locally
that’s empowering girls and they’ve applied. We had an incredible amount of
applicants to learn how to make a video game as a way to express themselves, to
learn a new skill, and CIRA has been so gracious to host us there.
So thank you for that. But this is a great example of industry
coming together to solve a problem. And the education system, I mean,
we’ve put a lot of weight on it. We’ll talk about it a little bit more. It
can only move so fast if there’s politics involved and legislative issues that we’ve
got to get over. But industry has a lot of power in its hands. And so finding
opportunities to collaborate, working together, talking, you know, this
isn’t like a fight or a competition really between companies although we could make
it one and maybe make it really fun. But I think there’s a lot of creativity
that if we’re going to solve our own problems, which is that we need people and
we need great innovators and inspiration and engagement, we are going to have
to take it up into our own hands. So I encourage all of you to take a step
forward and help out. Thank you. – Thank you, Tanya.
Sarah Anson-Cartwright, Canadian Chamber of Commerce.
If I hear from the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, I hear from the CFIB.
Skills, skills, skills. It doesn’t matter the industry and digital even more so.
Tell us what you brought on this. – [Sarah] So, you know, I arrived here a
few minutes ago, I overheard some of the table discussions. I don’t think I’m going
to be able to tell you anything you don’t already know. So apologies right
up front. This is a great group, very well informed, but I will go back
to first…a few first principles. And first, I’m going to start with a few
phrases. Some of my favorite phrases when we talk about this topic. And this is
with apologies to the OACD. So am I smarter than a smartphone?
It’s a good question to ask ourselves, right? It’s not what we know,
it’s what we can do with what we know. And the third one, just to broaden it out,
is the future of work requires a change to how we think about skills. So pretty
basic, pretty fundamental to this discussion and I’m going to pull it back
up to topic that David talks about if it’s not talking about parliamentary affairs
and that is the economy. And it really does come down to how we
look at the opportunity for growth. And, you know, if you look at one formula
for our GDP growth, it would be the growth in our labor force and the growth in our
labor productivity. And we know that the labor force growth, the population growth
is pretty flat 0.4, 0.5 of a percent, and we also know that labor productivity
growth is very low. You know, hovering around one point something. And
what we do know though is that of those two, we have greater influence
potentially on labor productivity. And the great thing about ICT is, it’s
that general purpose technology. It pervades the entire economy, can be
applied in every part of the economy and we should see some productivity
growth. We haven’t, but we should. Well, you know, balance. And so, I think
that’s where the notion of how do we get beyond digital skills as kind of a
standalone topic and it becomes an embedded topic around skills, around
education, around our economic growth because that is a factor that we can
influence. And I think, what I’d like to talk about a little bit later is where’s
the federal government’s role in this. Is there a federal government role? I
think there is. And that’s my job to make the case. And I…fortunately, Tanya is
one of our members and Tanya’s very eloquent. She’s given you the great slides
to excite you about the skills gap. So I don’t need to go there. I can now go
and talk about… When we talk about digital skills, we’re not just talking
about the skills that allow you to use technology. We have to talk about two
fundamental skills that allow you to actually, you know, do something with that
digital skill. And as much as we’re remiss, and David quoted the lack of
digital skills in our population, we’re equally, if not more so, poor
performers when it comes to literacy and numeracy. And this is across our
adult working age population. Less than half have the level of literacy
and…no, sorry. Less than half have the problem-solving in a digital-rich and…
or technology-rich environment. That’s the way the OECD characterizes it.
So less than half have good enough skills to actually use ICT, to actually use
whatever former technology is required in their work. And then you bring it back to
the literacy and numeracy and you see the connections because our levels of literacy
and numeracy are not where they need to be for the functions,
for the tasks of most jobs. And then you look back at younger people
and you say, “Well, aren’t we doing better? Isn’t it a generational divide? Is
this sort of improving as we embed more technology into our education system
and sort of allow this to thrive? And isn’t every 11-year old, you know, so
much better at everything than I am on a computer or anything else of a digital
nature?” And the fact is our numeracy scores have been going down. We’re not so
bad at…for 15-year olds at the literacy and the reading, you know, those
components, the problem-solving, but the numeracy which is a fundamental
underpinning. So, you know, I think if we can just come back to
some first principles on this issue, there’s a lot of strong connections.
You have to have cognitive skills. It’s not just about knowing how to push a
button or knowing how to use some device, it’s about actually saying, “What can I do
now that I have that device?” It’s the problem solving, critical thinking.
There’s creativity. So we’ve got this sort of myriad and I think, you know, there’s a
lot that needs to be unpacked, as we say. But the more we can embed the relationship
between digital skills as sort of a fundamental piece of the skill set we need
and it has to be in our education system because if we don’t catch people then
early, it’s very hard to play catch-up. We see, you know, that the graphs are
pretty dramatic in terms of skill loss as we get older, you know. You kind of
peak in the 35 to 44, and then, you know, as you get older, it all goes
downhill. I’m sorry but I’m just, you know, showing you…telling you
what the graphs show us. Today, at the OECD, I see they have their
OECD forum. My boss is over there. And, you know, their session on the
future of work, what do they do? They start off by bringing a robot right
out onto the panel, you know. So just to make the statement pretty
clear, we’re racing with the robots. It’s about technology alongside skills.
How do we differentiate ourselves? It has to be in terms of those
problem-solving, analytical, other skills of a cognitive nature that are in many
cases interpersonal so that we’re coming to, you know, direct those robots as
opposed to doing their bidding. Anyway, I’ve gone off on a tangent here.
I should come back to our topic at hand. How are we faring? I think I gave you a
bit of a sense that I’m quite concerned, and the OECD surveys give us really good
indications about where Canada falls relative to our competitors. And,
you know, as a country, we’re often very complacent. And I just don’t
know how we step away from that. What will encourage us to really,
you know, take this seriously? But the one, you know, role I think the
federal government could play here is to push out some very strong messages to warn
us, to shock us. Maybe Dominic Barton and that council at the end of the year when
they report back will give us a real coming to terms with what we need to
do as a country. But I think our skills opportunity is really critical here. So, David, if I have another minute? Thank
you. You mentioned indigenous peoples and I think that’s a really interesting area.
If you want to bring some attention to this digital skills, IT skills, ICT issue,
let’s look at the difference that education makes to aboriginal peoples.
Their skill proficiency is on a par with non-aboriginals, where they are co-located
or having the same education system. When you step back and look
at the on-reserve situation, that’s where it falls to pieces. So it’s
not about, you know, who’s brighter or less bright, it is about the quality of
the education, and the skills gap that you see between generations is also, you
know, one that we need to take note of because if we’re going to assume that we
need older workers to stay working longer, we can’t just ignore them in terms of
where their skills are at. So I think that’s another piece is we have
the technology, can we actually do something about this continuous learning
need, this deficit that we have in our system. And, you know, the last thing
I would say, if I may, is we’re all of a certain, you know, age range,
shall we say, and we think, “Oh, you know, I was fine, my father was
fine. You know, they got this type of education, they did well.” If we don’t
come to terms with the fact that a BA or one type of discipline,
it’s not going to hold you in good stead. It has to be interdisciplinary.
You have to have a range of skills. You may not get on-the-job training.
You may. I’ve had a varied experience depending on firms, but let’s not assume
any of this. Let’s assume that we’re changing jobs more often. We need to
continuously up our skills and we need to find ways, we need the government to find
ways to help individuals do more of that themselves for their own benefit. I’m
losing my voice. That’s a sign to stop. Thank you.
– All right. We’re definitely going to come back
to you with some questions, Sarah. Matthew Johnson, you’re sort of where
the rubber meets the road in some of these where the… You’re an educator,
give us a sense of what it looks like from educator meeting educated
in some of these. – [Matthew] Sure. Well, we’ve heard a
number of times in this panel already the term, digital literacy. And perhaps you’ve
gotten the sense that this is a term whose precise meaning is still being developed.
For the past several years, MediaSmarts has been developing a
comprehensive definition of digital literacy in a Canadian context. So what
does digital literacy mean in Canada? Now, while digital literacy has
traditionally been seen in technical terms primarily, our approach is to view it
as a suite of life skills that enable a digitally literate person to successfully
navigate and engage with our increasingly networked world. More and more of our
lives from political debates to accessing health information and services, to
finding employment, keeping in touch with our family and friends are all moving
online. And more and more of our time is spent using screens and networked devices.
Of course, this does have its benefits. Access to previously unimaginable sources
of information, art, and entertainment, opportunities for citizens to become
involved in government, civic, and political causes, and to bridge both
geography and socio-economics in bringing people together. To take
advantage of these though, we need four things. First, access to networks and
network devices, which we consider a precondition of digital literacy, then
what we’ve identified as the three key components of digital literacy. The
competence in using digital tools from search engines to social networks, the
skill to understand the content that we access, not just on a surface level, but
in a critically engaged way that draws on media literacy skills to recognize how
both the commercial nature of the spaces we use and the technical architecture of
the networked world influence that content. And finally, the ability to
create content using those digital tools. When looked at from that perspective,
how digitally literate are Canadians? Our young Canadians in a Wired World
survey looked at students from grades 4 to 11, whom we might expect as so-called
digital natives to be highly digitally literate relative to older Canadians.
In the first category, access, we did find that the great strides taken
by Canadian governments in the early days of the internet have not necessarily been
followed up on. While nearly all the youth in our study did tell us that they were
able to access the internet outside of school, our qualitative data suggests that
the 1% that report not having access may reflect quite large rural in northern
parts of the country. The picture inside schools, meanwhile, is significantly
worse. In our survey of nearly 5,000…oh, sorry, more than 5,000 K to 12 teachers,
we heard, again and again, frustration with slow and unreliable
networks and out-of-date or poorly chosen technology. It goes without saying that
schools are where youth have the best chance of learning the digital
literacy skills that they need, not just those they think they need. And
we would be right to be concerned about a situation where teenagers are
significantly more digitally connected at times when they’re away from guidance and
supervision. These issues are even more present in northern and remote schools,
but many urban schools, especially ones with older buildings, are those that
rely heavily on portable classrooms face similar challenges as well.
The lack of access in schools is not just a barrier to students becoming
digitally literate though. It also builds a wall between the
classroom and students already wired lives making school seem less and less
relevant. There’s no question, of course, that Canadians of all ages
are using network technology, but whether they’re using it well is
another matter. Search engines are a good example. While Google is one of the most
popular websites among students, just over a third use advanced search
engine tools, and only half scan the full first page of search engine results
before clicking on one. Similarly, while students demonstrate fairly
sophisticated abilities to use social networks tagging and blocking features
and privacy settings to manage what information about them is seen by their
friends, family, and community, something of obvious relevance to young
people, they generally overestimate how much these sites privacy policies limit
how their data may be used by the companies that own those sites.
Teachers are most likely to emphasize the responsible and ethical use of digital
technology, an important part of digital literacy. The three topics that they
consider most important for students to learn are staying safe online, appropriate
online behavior, and dealing with cyberbullying. But most efforts by
governments at all levels to address these issues have been framed in negative
punitive contexts and relied heavily on scare tactics. All of which are elements
that we know make youth tune them out. To encourage youth to be responsible
users of network technology, we need to stop trying to scare them into
following the rules and instead teach them to know and exercise their rights as
informed and engaged digital citizens. To do that, we need to do a better job of
teaching them to understand and create digital media. The understand skills can
be seen as a breakpoint in the digital literacy landscape. Students and teachers
agree on the value of being able to verify the information they see online, and most
students do know and use a number of different techniques for doing this. But
here too, there’s a gap between school and the rest of students lives with
authentication being seen primarily as a matter for the classroom. While 9 in 10
students verify information they need for school work, only two thirds do so for
information they’re seeking for their personal interest, and just over half
verify anything they learn through social media, the main source of news
for youth and an increasing number of adults, as well. More and more, the internet is where
politics happens, and authentication skills, especially the soft skills of
recognizing bias loaded language and how a source may be compromised by who’s funding
it are essential, not just to being a digital citizen but a citizen full-stop.
For the same reason to be involved in civic life today means contributing to the
online commons by creating digital media. Despite the fact that the internet has
removed the stranglehold that publishers and broadcasters once held on
getting the message out however, and the fact that we can now do with a
cellphone what 20 years ago required a camcorder that might cost hundreds or
thousands of dollars, relatively few youth are creating content in or out of school.
So what needs to be done about this? Well, for our part, MediaSmarts has
launched a model curriculum framework that addresses seven key aspects of digital
literacy. From authenticating information to creating and remixing, to ethical use
and dealing with the physical and mental health aspects of network technology, to
make sure that every Canadian child can have a comprehensive digital literacy
education from kindergarten to grade 12. As well as trying to lead in curriculum
development, we’ve identified where digital literacy is already in the
curriculum of each province and territory as a way of removing obstacles
to getting it in the classroom. And we provide professional development
for teachers on key digital literacy topics. We also provide resources for
parents to help them provide the kind of guidance and support that we know young
people want and which our research shows has the strongest relationship with
what kids actually do online. Now, we created our framework on our own
with funding from CIRA’s community investment program. But we’ve always seen
it as our contribution to a national digital literacy strategy that would bring
together governments at all levels as well as bodies like CIRA, the CRTC,
the office of the Privacy Commissioner, along with key stakeholders from across
the country in government, education and academia, industry, and other increasingly
relevant sectors like health care to overcome the barriers to implementing
digital literacy education for youth and adults across Canada and
throughout their lives. Thank you. – Thank you very much, Matthew. That’s
great. We’re going to take some questions again, same sort of format. So if you’ve
got some questions, put your hands up. A microphone will be right there. I’m
going to start this one off and this is a quick just go up and down the panel.
Some of you were not here this morning. I did put the same question to our panel
this morning. You may have heard the government’s going to spend $500 million
over 5 years on broadband. We asked some guys in the network business
what they’d spend $500 million on, and Matthew, I’ll put you first on the
spot and we’ll come back this way. If you had $500 million on a “broadband
strategy,” where might some of that money go? Want to provide some advice
to Minister Bains on that one? So here’s your chance. – Well, I don’t know where we’d spend all
500 million of it. But as I can say, a lot of that money needs to be going to
creating and distributing resources for all of the people that help young people
and adults become digitally literate in all of the dimensions of digital literacy.
And certainly, creating the resources is key but also disseminating them, providing
support in using them because all too often resources are created and either
they just sit on a website or even if they are disseminated, there’s not training
that goes with them. But also we need to overcome the silos that exist that all of
the great work that is happening across the country so often is separated, and we
see that even going from province to province. When I look every year at
digital literacy curriculum, I see tremendous things happening in some
provinces and other provinces that might as well be in 1980 from the looks of their
curriculum. And you will see so much reinventing the wheel happening.
We need to have the ability to bring people together within sectors
like education but also between sectors so that we can have a comprehensive
digital literacy strategy that’s operating at all levels of government. – Sarah, does the Chamber of Commerce
have any official policy and where this 500 million should go?
Do you have any suggestions? – No, but I will speak unofficially…
– All right. You go right ahead. – …just within this room.
– Sure. – Five hundred million, first of all, is
not enough. Let’s just be clear, okay? So lay that on the table. But I will
say from the business point of view, you’ve got to have businesses in
communities right across this country have the level of broadband to actually conduct
business. If we’re concerned about export orientation or digital economy or
e-commerce, you simply have to be able to function. And I know that that’s not the
case in, you know, I don’t know, X number of the thousands of communities across
this country. So maybe a first step, and maybe it’s been done, is to find out
who has the biggest deficiency. Where is the business appetite for
stronger broadband or just broadband at all greatest in terms of the economic and
business potential in that community? So, you know, if you raised your
hand and said, “I really need it. Our businesses are struggling,”
maybe you should be, you know, on the list of those to qualify.
– A triage of source. – Yeah, absolutely. I’m just throwing that
out there. This is me, not the Chamber. – All right. – But you see, they link to the Chamber
because, all right, we’ve got 500, you know, chambers across
the country and I can tell you… – Of all shapes, sizes, and… – Exactly. Every part of this country is
represented, and it’s just fascinating. I’ll get a phone call from somebody
in Whitehorse or somebody, you know, on the rock and it
really does come down to, if you have the access,
you can actually conduct business. – All right. Tanya, how about you
from a software. But, again, the hardware guy will say, “Oh, yeah,
he’s built it all on a hardware.” Software folks might say what? – I’m not speaking for them. Same
disclaimer as Sarah, of course. I think what Matthew pointed to was very
important and it’s something that we’ve been speaking about a lot. It’s
understanding that education comes from a variety of places now to address an
immediate need in the timeframe that we have to try and do it to stay competitive
economically and globally. We need to basically call for all hands on
deck, and that’s really hard when you’re talking to teachers only have so much
time in a day and have to follow a program. Who’s going to train them up?
Who’s going to help them be confident, learn the skills, include them in their
lesson plans? Who’s going to help parents? And there are organizations. We support
one of them called Kids Caution Us that are working across Canada to try and make
all of this very approachable and easy to use. But, again, if you don’t have access
to the internet, you’re not going very far. So that’s sort of a given that we
need to have that. But then a plan for what is it going to be used for. So
there’s that. I will also add that, you know, as I explained in my
presentation, our companies are pretty small for all intents and purposes.
They’re not 50,000, you know, employee companies anymore. So their
key focus is to grow their business and keep it alive and sustainable. I’m asking
them to take time away from their day-to-day operations and get out
and pitch in to this kind of effort. It’s difficult. It’s a really difficult
task but there’s a huge willingness to do it. Maybe the government could
create some incentives there and say, “You know what, if you’re a business
that offers this kind of skills, do something in the community
that’s meaningful.” Add it to par. You know, add your efforts to part of a
program that exists or could be created. And once you’re involved, you know,
everybody’s better for your knowledge. So something like that would be good too. – And, Jeff, you hinted if I remember your
presentation about some funding to help low-income households just access
the internet, but beyond that, where does $500 million go? – Yeah. So let me say this about the $500
million. Five hundred million dollars is going to go, “poof.” Right away. And there
may be questions after the fact about where did that go? How? On what basis
was it awarded? Was it politicized? Was it patronaged? Etc. And it’s one time
it’s been announced and I’m not sure there’s any direction, it’s never been
earmarked yet. So hopefully that will be consulted on. The Affordable Access
Coalition has the two funds. There’s the access fund so that the infrastructure is
there where it’s not currently there to deliver what Canadians all deserve,
that basic level of broadband access. And then there’s the affordability
or low-income subsidy. It’s a monthly amount that Canadians,
low-income Canadians who are qualified can spend to lower their already
very expensive telephone bills. I think and so, the Coalition’s proposed
on the infrastructure side $200 million a year, user supported. This would
likely be reflected in end-user bills to fund on an annual basis,
on a sustainable basis contribution towards making sure all Canadians have
that level of basic broadband access no matter where they live,
which is something our research shows Canadians are supportive of in principle
and support of in terms of paying for us. So I think…and that’s $200 million
on an annual basis. It’s transparent, it’s sustainable, its renewable,
whereas the 500 million one-time funding, “poof,” it’s gone because closing the
broadband gap has been estimated to be, you know, not a million dollar problem
but a billion dollar problem. So it’s something that we’re
not going to solve overnight. So you want to do it sustainably ,
incrementally and in terms of which communities get access to that money
first. You want to have a transparent process in place to allocate the money to
the extent that demand for that money outstrips supply which is a very realistic
scenario. And in that regard, the coalition I represented said there may
be special community needs that should be prioritized. Certainly, First Nations
concerns come to mind. I’m not sure businesses would be the first place
to spend that type of money on. I’m inclined to argue… – If a community does well,
the people will be… – No, no, I don’t disagree with this sort
of the trickle-down effect of that, but it’s where…there’s also a
Productivity factor I think involved in the connecting up households. So,
anyway, there should be a process. All of what I’m trying to say is that
it’s not a $500 million problem. Whatever problem we’re talking about if
it’s literacy or adoption or access, it’s a billion dollar problem. So it
can’t be ad hoc. It’s got to have a strategy and it sounds like the current
government is sharpening its pencil to come out with the strategy
so that that’s encouraging. – And that is… I think we’ve all heard.
We’ve heard this a few times today that we do need some sort of coherent strategy
with a champion somewhere. Okay, some questions. I think there’s
table 13. And then we’ll come to 14. – [Man 4] Hi. It’s an unfortunate fact
that Canada’s digital environment is not an even playing field. And as our country
falls behind in skills and education, there are certain groups that are
further behind than others. Women, low-income families, rural Canadians are
often not receiving the same quality of education and level of participation in
the digital environments and because they face a lot of different systemic barriers
that we can’t tear down in one day. But as a panel of experts in this area
speaking to a room full of people in ICT organizations across Canada, what would
you suggest that we can do to create a more diverse in egalitarian industry and
education system in Canada so that all Canadians can be represented
in our economies? – Well, why don’t I throw this one to
Matthew, first? You want to try this? We didn’t come back to
you in a second, don’t you? – There are a number of different things
we need to do because there are a number of different barriers. As we’ve mentioned
a number of times, the number one barrier is access. And we need to make access more
widely available, and we need to do it in a way that’s going to reach all Canadians.
I mean, that’s one of the reasons why getting good quality connections and
networks in schools is so important. And I wanted to go back for a second to
the question…the point you raised about sustainability because, you know, 20
years ago, Canada was a world leader in getting the internet in schools, both in
terms of physically getting the wiring in schools, getting the signal in schools,
but also supporting teachers in using the internet, using digital technology.
Teaching about digital technology but also using those digital tools in their regular
teaching. And now, as I said again and again, what we hear from teachers, the
number one complaint is network problems, slow bandwidth, outdated technology. So
whatever we do, it has to be sustainable. And I think that’s the big barrier that
we’re seeing when it comes to youth. It’s not that the infrastructure isn’t
there, it’s not that it was never there with a few exceptions, but that it hasn’t
been maintained. A second type of barrier is when we have people who are
reluctant to enter the tech world for cultural reasons and we’ve heard a number
of times where girls in particular and other groups may feel like it’s not
socially acceptable for them. They may be encountering conscious or
unconscious bias. So there are things we need to do to address that. But a lot of
it also is fear. We know from our research that boys and girls have very different
experiences online, that girls are a lot more likely to see the internet as a
frightening place, a place where they’re in danger, and a lot of that does seem to
come from the fear narrative that has dominated discussions of the internet
and use for the last 15 or 20 years. If parents are afraid of what’s going to
happen to their kids online and we hear again and again from parents that they
are, they’re not going to encourage their kids, boys or girls to get into coding.
And so it’s only going to be the ones that have a real strong desire who do it.
So we have to deal with that. We do have to address the real issues, the
real concerns about what kids do and what kids encounter online, but we have to do
it in a rational way and we have to do it in a way that empowers kids
rather than trying to shield them. – And Tanya, you wanted
to jump in on this. – He did a good job. I’m going to say
Matthew is still my thunder, again. But anyway, it’s okay. I think it’s
a great question and we did a bit of research, I mean a fair bit of research,
and it’s in our report, about the gender bias because it’s
one that confronts us all the time, specifically the gender bias. And there’s
others, of course. You’ve raised a few and I’ll speak to those in a minute. But we
were, you know, we were like, “Okay, fear.” Fear is a topic, you know,
women talk about a lot. We talk about fear. We’re raised to be a
bit fearful. And that’s a societal issue more broadly speaking in a lot of cases
than a tech problem, so to speak. When I started this job, I remember I
started…that’s when the barrage of women in tech and, “You’re a woman in tech and
there…you must know things and tell us what the problem is.” And it’s like, “I’m
a lawyer. I don’t know. We’ll see.” But when I started speaking to my
colleagues in the companies I work with, it wasn’t that they were a woman and
they wanted to be a trailblazer that got them there, it’s that they were
given the opportunity to learn. And a good researcher, or I’d say good,
he’s probably awesome, out of Cambridge named Simon Peyton Jones
has done some research on this with respect to our industry specifically. And
on the stereotype and gender issue, it really does come down to that. It’s
stereotyping really, really, really young. And so, what they realized was if we gave
access and we gave exposure to technology and learning in a different kind of way,
not just like, you know, I call it terrestrial, but real life, you
know, balls and dolls and trucks and stuff, but actual like, “Let’s learn and
play this place,” when kids are four and five, that the likelihood of girls staying
engaged and having their curiosity piqued was very, very high. Our friends
in the U.S., a similar organization, has been working very closely with
educators across the country with the Higher Education Video Game Alliance. And
their research was showing there’s a few points in the development of
a child where girls, in particular, are falling off. One is at a very young
age when they’re learning the world around them and what they should be
playing with and what their friends are playing with and peer pressure kind of
starts, and then the next comes when math skills start to become emphasized.
And the teachers, to their credit, are very aware of the curriculum
they have, the time they have, and everything else, but they’re not given
a variety of skills to equip them for the lack of confidence that girls are
typically found to show. And that happens around between 12 and 14 but typically
kind of into high school when math gets a little bit trickier. Without the extra
encouragement, they’re falling off and they’re saying, “I can’t do this. I give
up. Who cares? It’s not cool. Move on.” But with a little bit of extra
encouragement, we’re seeing amazing results. We’re seeing it now and I think
in Canada across a lot of different schools and in different communities
but it’s not widespread yet. So I think really early, early education
is the first point of intervention to show people that they can do this, anybody can
do this. It’s not scary and it’s not exclusive. This is a very inclusive place
and it can be. And then we get back to the access and the internet. So I have a small
child, she happens to be a girl. I went in to school, of course, being the
person I am, working for the companies I work for, and I said to the principal,
her first day of kindergarten 4, “What are you teaching them on Khan
Academy? Are you doing any coding and are you using online…” And she probably
looked at me with, like, glass over eyes and said, “Huh?” I said like,
“Come on. Really?” “No, we’re worrying about play-based
learning right now.” And I said, “Oh, but you can play on the Internet.”
“Oh, we only have like 30 computers for the whole school and they go on a cart and
they go from classroom to classroom and they tend to spend the most time with the
grade seven and eights.” That’s a problem. And then she shared this spotty internet
issue that their school has. The school is in Ottawa. There was
no excuse for spotty internet, no excuse for outdated computers, no
excuse for a limited amount of computers. So how do we solve all of these problems
at once? It’s not going to happen with $500 million, it’s got to have
a larger vision for the country. There’s got to be… We need the federal
government to step up and say, “Okay. We see this. We’re not sure we
know maybe the perfect way to solve it, but we see this and we’re going to start
carving off pieces, and we’re going to talk to industry, we’re going to talk to
educators, we’re going to talk to parents, and we’re going to work on this together,
and of course, with our provincial partners who have a lot of insight into
these things.” So we’re hoping we’ll see some leadership, we’re hoping we’ll tackle
some of the issues with people who have been less engaged and
hopefully, we’ll get there. – Thanks. When we listened to Mark
Dupree’s presentation to hang 650 yards satellites, I thought that was a difficult
problem but this sounds like a much more difficult problem. At the same table,
we’ll just do that first and then we’ll come down here to 10. – [Man 5] Five hundred million dollars at
your problems is a tactic, not a strategy. If that tactic doesn’t
serve a strategy, then, yes, the money just goes, “poof.” I haven’t
seen any evidence of a strategy that’s being served by that tactic. In order to
develop a strategy, you have to actually identify problems. And in Canada, the
biggest problem that’s emerging today with the internet is the concentration of
ownership in the media. I would say this includes publishing as well as the
internet. But when you have a very small number of owners for a very, very large
business, it’s not a buyers’ market. It’s a seller’s market. And it won’t
really matter who gets the money. It’ll just be wasted. And…how can I put
this? In a free market economy, money doesn’t trickle down.
Money trickles up. – Geoff, actually, PIAC does a whole
lot on concentration of ownership. I don’t know if you have a comment on
that. I don’t know. Is it… What was your view? Is it that we’re too
conservated and not enough? Less? Will we get some thoughts on that? – Well, PIAC regularly intervenes before
Industry Canada on wireless and then it’s CRTC on telecom issues and broadcasting
to advocate for more competition. Certainly, there’s a concentration
problem. There was an expert in this room, [inaudible] of Carleton and the
Canadian Media Concentration research project who documents this periodically.
The effect of that concentration is a…well, concentration is that
implies a lack of competition, lack of competition implies high prices.
The basket of communication services that…or the monthly amount that
Canadians spend on communication service has been going up like that. It’s been
outstripping the pace of inflation. Certainly, there’s an element of demand to
that. There may be more demand, but in many cases, you’re seeing Canadians
getting either less for more or they’re getting charged more for the same type of
service or the same entry-level type of smartphone plan. So it’s certainly a
problem. And so what do we do about affor… Do you ask the regulator?
There’s a regulator behind all this on broadcasting and telecom. Do you say,
“There’s market failure or there’s a problem here? Start regulating rates.” I
think that would be a very difficult task to do, even though the daily experience
is that, “Yes, there’s a lack of competition.” So that’s why the group I
represent has asked for an affordability subsidy. I will note just one more point.
The CRTC has come back and has floated an idea of offering Canadians a mandated
price, a basic broadband package to all…a uniform one to all Canadians with
us with a price cap, price healing, which may be one solution to this. But
it’s all in response to the failure of the market to address a problem.
That’s the problem that the strategy needs to address. – We’re going to come down to table
number 10. If a microphone…Right. Somewhere down around here. – [Man 6] Okay, thank you. This is a
question from an economist. Both this morning and this afternoon, we
talked about the problems of productivity, the Canadian economy, we talked
about efficiency in government, we talked about a lack of skills. There’s
an area that I’ve been asked to work in recently that is plaguing me and that’s
that the public perception and the private reality of what’s coming down the
pipe in the Internet of Things. I don’t want to go into the security and
privacy issues. They’re the toys for boys and all of that. But when you look at the
numbers and the predictions, most of the Internet of Things is going to
be lodged in the industrial sector and in government. Only a little bit of it is
going to be in that household. So there are questions about the skills
for the Internet of Things, for productivity in the industrial sector,
and the skills and awareness in the government sector for where the Internet
of Things is going to transform governance and the operation of government. That
looks like a big pothole in the road for a strategy going forward.
Are there any comments on that? – Sarah, do you want to
try a bit there? Sure. – And, well, you’ll have to cut me off
because I could talk. This is really fascinating, important, and
unpredictable as is the future, right? But we do know a few things. We do
know that, you know, robotics, AI are all sort of taking root starting to
infiltrate, starting to displace. There’s varying predictions in terms of
the numbers of jobs and the types of jobs. But we know, in terms of numbers
and types that will be displaced, but we do know that there will
be a degree of substitution going on. What we… I think haven’t come to terms
with is of all of that that is starting to happen as, you know, Baxter,
this robot is available for $22,000 U.S. and $3 an hour. I mean, you can see him
very easily going into a small or medium-sized manufacturing firm and
displacing, right? At that price point, it gets attractive. So, you know, we have to
start to come to terms with what then are the skills and what then are
the types of jobs that we could foresee growing in this world? Because we
know if you looked at, you know, years ago when GM and other car
manufacturers were ruling the world, you know, there were thousands of jobs.
Those jobs have diminished in number greatly. And Google, as it grows, is not
creating the jobs in the same degree in the same numbers as those old
manufacturing. So this shift to this fourth Industrial Age or the second
machine age, however we characterize it, we’ve got to come to terms and really have
a discussion about the types of skills and the types of job categories that
we could see potentially growing. And I think that’s where the federal
government has a real responsibility to start to do what ICTC and other
organizations do, which is a bit of a forecasting. Not beyond five years, I
think 10 years is. But I think in respect of some of the categories I talked about,
we need to really get a handle on what this fundamental set of changes might
mean for our skills’ needs and then our education piece, and the nature of work,
the future of work. And, you know, it’s happening at Davos with the
World Economic Forum. So, you know, the leading lights
from around the world talk about this. But is it happening at our level? Is it
happening at a point at which, you know, we can really start to take
grasp of…you know, there may no longer be some of these very manual
routine jobs in the future economy. There may be jobs that will require, you
know, certain other types of skills that we have to start to embed in our
thinking as part of the nature at work. So that’s not very specific answer
to your question but I think it’s a really important topic. And I’d like to see
some leadership… Of course, it’s so unpredictable and it’s so scary
that politically, it’s unpalatable. – We’ve got time for one last question, I
think. Table 12. Right behind you there. – [Woman 2] Yeah, I just wanted to tie in
a bit of this morning’s talk about access and access to infrastructure, and your
Internet of Things sort of inspired me on that as well. But the differential
access people have between, like, broadband online on a computer and
broadband online on a mobile phone, the things you can do on a device
especially in terms of productivity and labor creation and future of jobs, it’s a
very different way you can do on a mobile phone than what you can do on a computer.
So in terms of…and yet you see more and more people are moving to mobile. In your
opinion, and this is a question for all of you, how can we manage that access in
skills gap between what people are learning on a phone? Do you think mobiles
are going to become more and more content creation friendly or are we going to lose
a significant number of people who don’t have access to desktops and to computers
and to all the programs that are available on those in the future? – Matthew, why don’t you give a crack at
this. I don’t feel time for everybody to chime in on this, but Matt, yeah,
do you want to try that one a bit? – I think there’s two things we need to
do. Because we certainly know from our own research that young people are more and
more using mobile devices to go online and obviously that provides us with a host of
issues that we can really only touch on right now. So one of the things that we
need to do, as with any technology, is to really encourage young people and
encourage their teachers to understand the full capacities of these devices because,
yeah, we can say they are more limited and that’s true, but at the same time, there’s
a lot of evidence that we’re not using them to their full capacity. I mean, as I
said, when you consider how few kids do any kind of media production in their
classroom, when you can make a film with a phone…so we do need to empower
teachers to use them more efficiently. And kids are bringing so much technology
into the classroom. We do have to do a little bit of Judo and say, “How can we
use what’s coming in? How can we use it safely? How can we use it fairly so
that the kids who maybe don’t have the best device aren’t left out? How can we
use it in a way that’s meeting the educational goals, not just relating to
digital literacy but to the classroom in general?” But we also are
seeing…anecdotally, we’re hearing a lot of schools are turning away from
mobile devices in the classroom. They’re going back towards things like
laptops. They tend to be less featured laptops but they’re turning back. So we do
need to make sure that they’re getting support there as well, that they are
getting the network quality that they need, they are getting the training that
they need so that students will grow up, we might say, bilingual in the two
technologies so that they do know there are more powerful platforms and they do
know how to use them at the same time as they’re getting the most out of the
devices that they use on a daily basis. – All right. And sitting patiently
throughout our discussion here at the end there has been Jeremy Depow of the
Canadian Internet Policy Forum, and his task now is to give us some
takeaways. You’ve been making some notes here, Jeremy.
What have you got for us? – [Jeremy] Well, I think, first of all,
you know, observing this discussion and at the forum, we’ve been looking at this
issue for the past several months and one thing that I think we have to ground all
our discussion is that Canada is not alone. This isn’t just a uniquely Canadian
problem. And there’s a global race to solve it with public policy and be in a
position to compete for this new economy. And I guess from a takeaway perspective,
I kind of see, you know, there’s the domestic policy landscape that
we’ve talked about which includes, you know, the K to 12 or some people
call…talk about K to 8 and then 9 to 12 and what’s the right approach there? And
then post-secondary, what’s the right approach? And then after that, we’ve
talked about…touched a little bit on lifelong learning. So you’re not going to
complete your education anymore once you receive your BA or your masters or your
Ph.D. It’s going to be an ongoing learning process as technologies develop.
And then we have the whole gender gap issue which has been identified and is a
serious one especially when you’re looking for creative people. And lastly,
labor displacement. You know, how are we going to prepare for that? And
what are we going to do to ensure that there is a proper social plan in
order to deal with, you know, the truck driver that loses his
job to a self-driving vehicle, for example? And that may sound
kind of extreme but it’s actually not. The other piece is, that I’ve kind of
heard throughout, is that this isn’t just an economic issue, it’s not just about
a particular sector, it’s really a socio-economic. There’s social economic
value out of this. And if we ensure that Canadians throughout demographics have the
right skills that not only does add a positive value to the economy, but there’s
also tremendous social value. I was at an event not long ago where there
was a launch of a program for internet access to low-income housing. And there
was a woman that got up and she was part of the community, and I think this person
may have testified at one of the House of Commons or CRTC hearings as well, but she
called the Ottawa library to reserve a computer. And they told her, “Well, you
have to do that online.” And so in that kind of environment, how do you access the
social programs that you need because they’re online? How do you find
educational opportunities? How do you find employment opportunities? That’s a real
real barrier to being able to participate and, you know, become not only Akins. I
think we’ve also talked about…and that your mobility question was a good one. Are
we just consuming information or are we creating value with those tools?
And that’s a totally different thing. And I think we need to get to the
place where we have those… Sarah, you mentioned the creativity
skills, the problem-solving skills, those are clearly deficits that we have in
Canada and we need some kind of approach to do that. And I tend to agree with you
with that, and it is a bit controversial but we often get stuck into the
debate of, well, education is a provincial issue so we can’t really touch it
federally. Well, I don’t think that’s necessarily an excuse for lack of federal
leadership and lack of putting resources into coordinating and assisting provinces
and working together and you’re exchanging information. So there’s lots of notes that
I’ve taken, but really I think those are the key points that I’d like to touch on.
And, you know, specifically the pervasiveness of this across sectors in
that it’s not just about digital sector and making sure we’ve got a strong
ICT industry, it crosses, you know, throughout the economy. And that’s where
we need to realize that there is tremendous economic and socio-economic
value to having the right strategy in place. So I think, from my perspective,
it’s time to move from…you know, we’ve identified the problem,
there are some ideas to solve it, but we really need to switch the
discussion now to what’s the strategy to this and the actual actions are moving
strategy into action. And I take your point with the $500 million not
having a clear strategy behind it. It is a tactic. We need a comprehensive
digital strategy in Canada. – All right. Thank you very much, Jeremy.
Thank you, Matthew, Sarah, Tanya, and Geoff. A round of applause
for our panel. Thank you, folks. That was great.

Stephen Childs

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