Budget 2016: a case for measured tech optimism

In reviewing the 2016 federal budget, it’s clear to see that the Liberal government is making a definitive shift from a natural resource dependency (read: oil) towards a clear focus on growing Canada’s technology sector.

Speaking in the House of Commons in late February, Finance Minister Bill Morneau set the tone for this budget, remarking that “we have an absolute commitment to making our country more innovative.”

In all, the budget looks to be a bit of a gamble — with a projected $29.4-billion deficit in 2016-17 — with the aim of sizable investments in technology. Staff writer Eric Emin Wood did a terrific job of covering Tuesday’s news, highlighting how the announced technology initiatives could be a boon for the sector — including investments in the digital economy, telecom network upgrades, education, clean tech, and more.

“It’s an important budget, because it’s laying out a review – a very extensive review – of the government’s support programs for innovation over the next year,” according to Russ Roberts, senior vice-president of advocacy for the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATA).

In addition, Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC) president and CEO Karna Gupta noted in Wood’s story that the government’s “Helping High-Impact Firms Scale Up” initiative, which aims to coordinate federal financing and advisory services to support “innovative” firms looks to be a positive thing in the long run.

Indeed, with the stated goal of linking Canadian tech firms to global markets and expertise, the federal government is making a concerted effort around “supporting Canadian information and communications technology, life sciences and clean technology firms by providing mentorship, introductions to potential clients/partners, and desk space in business accelerators abroad” by way of renewing the Canadian Technology Accelerator Initiative.

And as Business Vancouver reports, segments of the sector are “relieved” to know that a Liberal election promise to rejig taxes on stock options — an important recruiting tool for tech startups looking to hire top talent — has been shuttered for the time being.

So, while time will tell if this budget will boost the long-term growth of the Canadian IT sector, it seems that measured optimism is the order of the day.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Ryan Patrick
Ryan Patrick
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