ICT in #Budget2019

Mar. 19, 2019

Today, the federal government tabled its 2019 budget. You can view the entire document here.

Though extremely focused on Canadian workers, healthcare, gender equality, indigenous services, housing, broadband access and culture, there are some elements that we thought would be of interest to the Cyber and AI communities in Canada. Here are a couple of highlights that we identified for the GovStart Community. In addition to AI, space is a recurring theme in the budget following the Lunar Gateway announcement and a new National Space Strategy.

Budget Section and Subject


Page # in budget document

Giving Young Canadians Digital Skills

The CanCode program helps young people get these coding and digital skills, with training support for their teachers and a special focus on reaching young people who are traditionally underrepresented in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, such as girls and Indigenous youth.
To give even more young people opportunities to get the digital skills that will help them succeed, Budget 2019 proposes to provide $60 million over two years, starting in 2019–20, to support CanCode’s ongoing work and help one million more young Canadians gain new digital skills


Youth Digital Gateway

Budget 2019 proposes to invest an additional $49.5 million over five years, starting in 2019–20, to launch a modernized Youth Employment Strategy informed by the recommendations of the Expert Panel on Youth Employment and extensive engagement with youth, service delivery organizations and other stakeholders.
This investment will support work placements, build partnerships with stakeholders, test pilot programs for hiring youth and improve program evaluation. It will also support the ongoing development of the Youth Digital Gateway—an online, interactive, user-friendly platform to help youth access federal supports, that is focused on outcome-based results.


New Universal Broadband Fund

To help every Canadian gain access to high-speed internet at minimum speeds of 50/10 Mbps, Budget 2019 proposes to invest up to $1.7 billion in new targeted initiatives that will support universal high-speed internet in rural, remote and northern communities. These investments would include:
Up to $1.7 billion over 13 years, starting in 2019–20, to establish a new national high-speed internet program, the Universal Broadband Fund.
The Fund would build on the success of the Connect to Innovate program, and would focus on extending “backbone” infrastructure to under-served communities (“backbone” is the central channel used to transfer internet traffic at high speed—the internet equivalent of a major roadway or railway spur). For the most difficult-to-reach communities, funding may also support “last-mile” connections to individual homes and businesses.


Destination Canada

In addition, Budget 2019 proposes to provide $5 million to Destination Canada for a tourism marketing campaign that will help Canadians to discover lesser-known areas, hidden national gems and new experiences across the country. Destination Canada is Canada’s signature tourism agency that collaborates with partners to promote Canada as a premier tourism destination.


Investments Related to Space

An investment of $2.05 billion over 24 years to ensure that Canada continues to be a leader in space robotics. This investment includes $150 million over five years, starting in 2019–20, for a Lunar Exploration Accelerator Program that will help small and medium-sized enterprises develop new technologies to be used and tested in lunar orbit and on the Moon’s surface in fields that include artificial intelligence, robotics, and health.


Digitizing Canadian Food Inspection Agency Services

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency currently relies on a paper-based system for issuing export certificates. As a result, Canadian exporters are required to submit forms by mail and wait for those forms to be returned prior to exporting their products. When Canadian firms are allowed to complete the application process online and have their reviewed forms returned electronically, Canadian business owners will be able to export their products more rapidly.


Protecting Canada’s Critical Infrastructure From Cyber Threats

To strengthen the cyber security of Canada’s critical infrastructure, Budget 2019 builds on 2018 investments and proposes $144.9 million over five years, starting in 2019–20, including $22.9 million from within existing Communications Security Establishment resources. This investment will help to protect Canada’s critical cyber systems including in the finance, telecommunications, energy and transport sectors. To this end, the Government intends to propose new legislation and make necessary amendments to existing federal legislation in order to introduce a new critical cyber systems framework. Funding will also support the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security in providing advice and guidance to critical infrastructure owners and operators on how to better prevent and address cyber-attacks.


Growing Canada’s Advantage in Cyber Security

Canada’s highly skilled workforce and world-class universities means that Canada is primed to lead in cyber security research, innovation and talent development. University-affiliated cyber and information security centres in Canada have emerged to help advance Canada’s cyber capabilities. These include Ryerson University’s Cybersecure Catalyst, the University of New Brunswick’s Canadian Institute for Cybersecurity, University of Calgary’s Institute for Security, Privacy and Information Assurance and Concordia University’s Centre for Cybersecurity, among others.
To promote collaboration between Canadian cyber security centres of expertise, Budget 2019 proposes to provide $80 million over four years, starting in 2020–21, to support three or more Canadian cyber security networks across Canada that are affiliated with post-secondary institutions. The networks—to be selected through a competitive process—will expand research, development and commercialization partnerships between academia and the private sector, and expand the pipeline of cyber security talent in Canada. Additional details on this program will be announced in the coming months.


Protecting Democracy

Budget 2019 proposes to invest $30.2 million over five years to implement a number of new measures:
• To protect Canada’s democratic institutions from cyber attacks, the Government is proposing to provide the Communications Security Establishment with additional funding of up to $4.2 million over three years, starting in 2019–20, to provide cyber security advice and guidance to Canadian political parties and election administrators.
To strengthen cooperation and information sharing in response to foreign threats to our democracies, G7 Leaders agreed during the June 2018 Summit in Charlevoix to each set up a Rapid Response Mechanism unit, with Canada taking on an added coordination role on behalf of the network. To support this commitment, the Government proposes to provide Global Affairs Canada with $2.1 million over three years, starting in 2019–20.
To strengthen Canadians’ resilience to online disinformation and to help ensure Canadians have access to a wide range of transparent, high-quality information, Budget 2019 proposes to provide the Department of Canadian Heritage with $19.4 million over four years, starting in 2019–20, to launch a Digital Democracy Project. Funding would support research and policy development on online disinformation in the Canadian context. This investment would also enable Canada to lead an international initiative aimed at building consensus and developing guiding principles on how to strengthen citizen resilience to online disinformation.


Canadian National Security

To support efforts to assess and respond to economic-based security threats, Budget 2019 proposes to invest $67.3 million over five years, starting in 2019–20 and $13.8 million per year ongoing, to Public Safety Canada; Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada; Global Affairs Canada; and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, among other federal agencies. These departments and agencies will work together in a coordinated way to enhance outreach and engagement with key stakeholders including Canadian businesses and academic institutions; raise awareness about risks; and enhance the suite of tools to appropriately address threats while continuing to encourage foreign investment, trade and economic growth.


Strengthening the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)

Budget 2019 builds on 2018  measures and proposes to provide the RCMP with:
• $508.6 million over five years to support policing operations
• $77.3 million over five years and $13.5 million ongoing for enhanced law enforcement at the border
• $68.9 million over five years and $20 million ongoing for enhanced federal policing capacity, including to fight money laundering
• $11.5 million over three years to support transportation security
• $5.7 million over five years and $1.2 million ongoing to protect national economic security.


Service Canada Modernization

To support Service Canada in providing Canadians with the benefits and information they are entitled to in a timely manner, Budget 2019 proposes to provide $305.3 million over five years to Employment and Social Development Canada to continue improving and modernizing service delivery systems. These investments will allow ESDC to:
• Make improvements to the Old Age Security and Canada Pension Plan delivery platforms.
• Hire additional staff at Service Canada to assess and process Old Age Security benefit claims.
• Migrate Service Canada’s call centers to more modern phone and information technology platforms, which will help to ensure faster and better quality service to Canadians.


CRA Improvements

To further support the Canada Revenue Agency’s ongoing service improvement efforts, Budget 2019 proposes to invest an additional $50 million over five years, starting in 2019–20, in two key initiatives:
Every year, at the request of individual tax payers, the CRA processes more than two million adjustments to T1 returns post-filing. Though the volume of changes makes some delay inevitable, Canadians are often frustrated by the time it takes to process these adjustments; in fact, this was a key concern highlighted by the Taxpayers’ Ombudsman in her 2018 report.By investing $34 million over five years to hire additional staff, it will be possible to make these adjustments more quickly, reducing frustration for taxpayers and ensuring that vulnerable Canadians do not encounter unnecessary delays in calculating the credits and benefits to which they are entitled.In Budget 2016, the Government invested in a pilot program to provide a dedicated telephone support line for tax service providers, giving them faster and more reliable access to experienced CRA officers. The Government proposes to invest $16 million over five years to make this well received program permanent, improving service for the millions of Canadians who work with tax service providers each year.


Phoenix Pay System

Budget 2019 provides an additional $21.7 million in 2018–19 to address urgent pay administration pressures (partially sourced from existing departmental funds), and proposes to invest an additional $523.3 million over five years, starting in 2019–20, to ensure that adequate resources are dedicated to addressing payroll errors. This investment will also support system improvements, to reduce the likelihood of errors occurring in the first place.
To ensure that the Canada Revenue Agency is able to quickly and accurately process income tax reassessments for federal government employees that are required due to Phoenix pay issues, and to support related telephone enquiries, Budget 2019 proposes to provide the Agency with an additional $9.2 million in 2019–20.
Working cooperatively with experts, federal public sector unions, employees, pay specialists and technology providers, the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) launched a process to review lessons learned, and identify options for a next generation pay solution.
As part of this process, pay system suppliers were invited to demonstrate possible solutions, which were directly tested with users. Based on feedback from users and participating stakeholders, TBS has been able to identify options with the potential to successfully replace the Phoenix pay system. As a next step, the Government will work with suppliers and stakeholders to develop the best options, including pilot projects that will allow for further testing with select departments and agencies, while assessing the ability of suppliers to deliver.