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Digital Canada 150

Prime Minister's Message

Photo of Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Prime Minister of Canada
Stephen Harper

Recent years have offered us a glimpse into the incredible power of digital technologies to improve the quality of our lives, the productivity of our businesses and the strength of our economy.

But it is only a glimpse. For those countries that understand the potential of these technologies—and position themselves to capture it—the benefits will be transformational.

That's why we are presenting Digital Canada 150—a bold plan to guide Canada's digital future. It sets out a vision of what Canada can achieve by the time we celebrate our 150th anniversary, in 2017, and beyond.

It is designed to be flexible and open, adjusting to changing times and responsive to new developments. It is also designed to ensure that Canadians not only benefit from the digital revolution but also are among its leaders.

Canada is a major world economy because we are open and free. We already lead in fields such as trade, science, innovation and culture. We are now ready to take our place as the most technologically advanced nation on the planet.

I invite you to join us in making Canada a truly digital country.

Industry Minister's Message

Photo of Industry Minister James Moore

Industry Minister
James Moore

Nearly 150 years ago, the Fathers of Confederation had a vision for an enduring democracy that would serve as a model of progress and industry for the world.

We have worked hard to honour that legacy. Throughout Canada's history we have overcome geography with our imagination. We built a railroad through hard granite and high mountains. We engineered the St. Lawrence Seaway, lifting ships 100 metres over the Niagara Escarpment. Through these and countless other examples, Canadians embraced the challenges of their times to build a stronger nation for themselves, their families and future generations.

Today, we are living in a transformational digital age where there are few jobs, few sectors and few aspects of our lives that remain untouched by digital technologies. Our challenge is to connect all Canadians to the opportunities afforded by a digital world.

Canada has the opportunity to become a leader in this new age, but government has an essential role to play in establishing, through effective public policies, the right conditions to encourage and help Canadians take full advantage of the transformational possibilities that the digital future holds. That is why the Government has charted a path that provides Canadians with the tools, the skills and the protections they need to embrace these digital opportunities.

We can take inspiration and guidance from our forefathers, learning from the history that helped make this country great and applying the same ingenuity and inventiveness that our ancestors did.

It's a modern twist on a story that's soon to be 150 years old. It's the story of Canada.

The Road to 2017

Nation Building in a Digital World

The challenge of nation building in the time of Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald was to connect Canadians across the country with the construction of the national railway. These two ribbons of steel linked east coast to west, lessening geographic distances, powering commerce and uniting Canadians.

Today, as we approach Canada's 150th birthday in 2017, we face a very similar challenge to connect our nation. Indeed, our modern nation-building project is that of connecting Canadians digitally with a strategy that provides a new direction and vision for Canada. This strategy is next in line to further unite our nation.

Our economy, social lives, business opportunities, arts, academic opportunities—so much of our day-to-day lives—are digital now. The impact that the digital world has on our lives will continue to grow with every passing day.

Digital Canada 150 represents a comprehensive approach to ensuring Canada can take full advantage of the opportunities of the digital age. It envisions a country of connected citizens armed with the skills they need to succeed.

Canadians rank above the OECD average in terms of their ability to use digital technology, communications, tools and networks
Source: OECD (2013), OECD Skills Outlook 2013:
First Results from Survey of Adult Skills, OECD Publishing

The Government plays a key role in ensuring that consumers are protected and action is taken to end price discrimination. We have introduced measures to protect Canadians and their families while encouraging healthy competition and lower consumer prices.

By Canada's 150th birthday in 2017, our vision is for a thriving digital Canada, underscored by five key pillars: connecting Canadians, protecting Canadians, economic opportunities, digital government and Canadian content.

Five Pillars of Digital Canada 150

  1. 1 Connecting Canadians
  2. 2 Protecting Canadians
  3. 3 Economic Opportunities
  4. 4 Digital Government
  5. 5 Canadian Content

1 Connecting Canadians

An effective digital policy is one that connects Canadians through high‑speed Internet access and the latest
wireless technologies.

Under Digital Canada 150

  • Canadians will have greater choice in the combination of television channels they pay for.
  • Over 98% of all Canadians will have access to high-speed Internet at 5 megabits per second (Mbps)—a rate that enables e-commerce, high-resolution video, employment opportunities and distance education—providing rural and remote communities with faster, more reliable online services.
  • Canada's wireless policies will connect Canadians with competitive prices, more choice in services and world-leading technologies in all regions of the country.
  • The Government will optimize the use of publicly owned wireless airwaves to provide Canadians
    with the access they need on the devices they choose.
  • The Government will continue to protect consumers and take action to support
    better services, more choice and lower prices for consumers.

Global mobile data traffic is projected to increase 13 fold between 2012 and 2017

Global mobile data traffic is projected to increase 13 fold between 2012 and 2017.

Description of Figure 1

Source: Cisco Visual Networking Index: Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update: 2012–2017
*1 Exabyte = 1 Billion Gigabytes

What's New

Enhance broadband service to a target speed of 5 megabits per second for up to an additional 280,000 canadian households, which expands coverage to 98% Source: Economic Action Plan 2014

What we've done

Average wireless rates have decreased nearly 20% since 2008 but Canadians still pay some of the highest wireless rates in the developed world. $94 - Average Monthly Price Plan (Mobile Wireless - Level 3)

Source: Wall Communications Inc. 2013

Success Story: Broadband Canada Program

Broadband Internet access is essential infrastructure for today's economy. It enables citizens, businesses and institutions to access information, services and opportunities that would otherwise be out of reach.

The Government of Canada has recognized the provision of high-speed Internet services as a priority for the past several years.

That is why in 2009 as part of Canada's Economic Action Plan, $225 million was provided to develop and implement a strategy to extend broadband coverage to as many unserved and underserved households as possible. The main tool for accomplishing this goal was the Broadband Canada: Connecting Rural Canadians program.

Through the program, the Government of Canada provided Internet access to 218,000 Canadian households that previously did not have it.

Some examples include:

  • Expanding broadband access in northwestern Ontario, bringing services and economic opportunities to 26 First Nation communities; and
  • Connecting the entire population of Quebec's Îles-de-la-Madeleine, an archipelago of islands in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, with Internet services.
Everyone wants to be a part of this. They see the benefits and what this means for the future, for their kids and for our community as a whole.

Chief Marie Quock, Iskut First Nation, connected to the Internet with Broadband Canada funding

Fast, but more importantly reliable, Internet service is very important for us because of the remoteness of our communities. This updated technology will benefit us in business, health and education and in the home.

Chief Rick McLean, Tahltan Band, connected to the Internet with Broadband Canada funding

The government of Canada provided broadband access to 218,000 Canadian households that did not have it.

2 Protecting Canadians

Canadians will be protected from online threats and
misuse of digital technology.

Under Digital Canada 150

  • Canadians will have confidence that their online transactions are secure.
  • Canada will lead in protecting the online privacy of its citizens.
  • Our families will be safeguarded against cyberbullying and other online threats.
74% of cases of cyberbullying include threatening or aggressive emails or instant messages.

Source: Statistics Canada, Juristat, "Self-reported Internet victimization in Canada, 2009"

What's New

What We've Done

In 2002 32% of computers worldwide were infected with malware
Source: PandaLabs Annual Report 2012 Summary

600% increase in number
of websites hosting malware
from 2011 to 2012

Source: Websense 2013 Threat Report

Success Story: Canada's Get Cyber Safe Guide for Small and Medium Businesses

Since its launch, the Get Cyber Safe Guide for Small and Medium Businesses has garnered support from Canada's leading names in online security and finance.

The Get Cyber Safe Guide for Small and Medium Businesses features practical recommendations for business owners and managers on securing their business devices, data, websites, social media presence, email and other digital technology systems, as well as helpful information on budgeting and planning.

The guide has been shared with organizations such as the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Federation of Independent Business and Canadian Bankers Association. We have partnered with private sector organizations such as Symantec Canada and ADP to distribute the guide as well.

As a leading authority on information protection, Symantec is proud to work with the Government of Canada and its GetCyberSafe initiative including the guide for small and medium-sized businesses. It's a prime example of how Public Safety Canada is adding value by providing businesses with relevant resources at their fingertips.

Sean Forkan, General Manager and VP, Symantec Canada

3 Economic Opportunities

Canadians will have the skills and opportunities necessary
to succeed in an interconnected global economy.

Under Digital Canada 150

  • Canada will rank among world leaders in adopting digital technologies, and a dynamic and growing Canadian digital technologies sector will accelerate innovation across the economy. Ensuring students in schools can learn the skills of tomorrow by providing easier access to the digital tools needed for their learning.
  • Canadian companies, large and small, will use digital tools to boost productivity, develop their businesses and capture growing markets at home and abroad.
  • Canada will be one of the global leaders in applying "big data" to change how we think about and carry out health care, research and development, as well as the myriad activities of business and government.

What's New

  • The Business Development Bank of Canada will allocate an additional $200 million to support small and medium-sized businesses with digital technology adoption.
  • The Business Development Bank of Canada will invest an additional $300 million in venture capital for companies in the information and communications technologies sector.
  • The Canada Job Grant will connect employers with skills training.
  • We will invest an additional $40 million to support up to 3,000 internships in high-demand fields and $15 million annually to internships with small and medium-sized businesses.
  • Support for the Canada Accelerator and Incubator Program will increase to $100 million to help digital entrepreneurs take the next step in developing their businesses.
  • Online sales alone in Canada have gone from $7.2 billion in 2000 to over $122 billion in 2012
    Source: Statistics Canada, Survey of
    Digital Technology and Internet Use

  • Support for the Computers for Schools Program will continue to provide students and interns with access to digital equipment and skills training.
  • We will amend our intellectual property laws, including the Patent Act, Trade-marks Act and Industrial Design Act, to harmonize with key international treaties, such as the:
  • The Canada First Research Excellence Fund will help post-secondary institutions excel globally in research areas that create long-term economic advantages for Canada.
  • The Institute for Quantum Computing will carry out and commercialize leading-edge research in quantum technologies.
  • We committed $20 million over two years to the Business Innovation Access Program, which supports innovative research and development that translates into products that benefit Canadians by connecting small and medium-sized enterprises with universities, colleges and other research institutions.

What We've Done

  • We lowered the corporate income tax rate from over 22% in 2001 to 15% in 2012.
  • We have realigned programs to support digital skills development and promote enrolment in key disciplines related to the digital economy.
  • We committed to an open, multi-stakeholder approach to Internet governance, led by the private sector and technical community, which has enabled economic progress, innovation and social development.
  • We invested more than $11 billion in Canadian science and technology since 2006, providing the base from which specific support for research relevant to the digital economy can be drawn.
  • We funded the Canadian Digital Media Network to connect entrepreneurs, research institutes, companies and governments to establish Canada as a world leader in digital media.
  • We transformed the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) into an industry-focused research and technology organization supporting large-scale projects.
  • In 2012, 71% of Canadian online shoppers purchased a digital product, up from 59% in 2010.
    Source: Statistics Canada, The Daily,
    "Canadian Internet Use Survey, 2012"

  • We doubled investments in NRC's Industrial Research Assistance Program to better assist small and medium-sized businesses to become more innovative.
  • We set aside $50 million for future investments by the Canada Foundation for Innovation to address acute needs in cyber infrastructure at post-secondary institutions, particularly high-performance computing.
  • We provided funding for CANARIE's Digital Accelerator for Innovation and Research, which enables entrepreneurs to design, test, prototype and demonstrate new technologies.
  • We provide $3 million annually for BizPaL, an online service that helps Canadian businesses easily find, and often apply for, business permits and licences online.

Success Story: Shopify

Shopify, an entrepreneurial Ottawa-based company, provides a commerce platform that allows individuals and businesses to sell online, in-store and everywhere in between.

It offers pre-made templates (themes) that allow people to set up an online store without having any previous design or technical knowledge. The company's online stores have become popular with individuals, large enterprises, recording artists, organizations and anyone else looking to sell a product.

Currently over 90,000 active stores in 80 countries use Shopify's technology, including Canadian companies such as Canadian Icons, Herschel Supply Company, Luxy Hair and more. Shopify has also attracted international brands including Amnesty International, Foo Fighters, General Electric and Tesla Motors to name a few.

Recently, Shopify has expanded its product offering to include a point-of-sale system to help retailers power offline sales in a retail location and a mobile card reader that allows merchants to process credit card payments through a mobile phone.

Additionally, with Shopify Payments, Shopify merchants are now able to accept and manage credit card payments directly through Shopify, instead of having to go through a third-party payment gateway.

We are a very proud Canadian company, and we think that being based here has been a competitive advantage for us. We think that Canada is an amazing place to start a business and the access to talent here is incredible. There are amazing universities with a great pool of programmers, engineers and designers.

Harley Finkelstein, Chief Platform Officer, Shopify

4 Digital Government

The Government of Canada will demonstrate leadership
in the use of digital technologies and open data.

Under Digital Canada 150

  • The Government of Canada will be a leader in using digital technologies to interact with Canadians, making it simpler and quicker to access services and information online.

The government's 60 different email systems, 300 data centres across the country, 3,000 overlapping and uncoordinated electronic networks are being merged and streamlined to serve Canadians better.
Source: Shared Services Canada

  • "Open data"—the ready access to government data in easily usable formats—will expand public dialogue, stimulate citizen engagement and foster greater cooperation among governments, businesses, academia and individuals.
  • Canada will open up its vaults and release datasets that can promote economic development, spark innovation and help find ways to make government work better.

The government of Canada launched its Open Government Strategy in March 2011 and then further enhanced its commitment by joining the Open Government Partnership in April 2012.

What's New

  • We will publish a new iteration of Canada's Action Plan on Open Government, highlighting ambitious commitments to advance open information, open dialogue and open data.
  • We will develop Open Science to facilitate open access to the publications and related data resulting from federally funded research.
  • More Access to Information requests will be able to be made online, thus expanding the number of departments currently taking part in the pilot project.
  • We will publish an Open Government Directive for federal departments and agencies to adopt a common set of practices.
  • The creation of the Open Data Institute will encourage the use of open data to raise productivity and create new products and services to benefit Canadians.
  • We will continue to support and stimulate the app economy and create a homegrown open data developer ecosystem in Canada.
  • We will create a new log-in approach to government services that leverages industry investment to provide a client-centric and secure online authentication solution at a significantly reduced cost to taxpayers and in a manner that respects privacy.
  • We will improve online tools for veterans and their families to provide quicker access to information and benefits.

What We've Done

  • We launched and will continue to build Canada's new web presence,, to provide citizens with a one-stop shop for all government information and services. This will include multi-platform accessibility on mobile and other devices.
  • We created Shared Services Canada to consolidate IT back office functions to save money, streamline processes and deliver better services to Canadians in a quick and efficient manner. This will include consolidating more than 60 different email systems to one single system.
  • We created the Build in Canada Innovation Program, which has government departments acting as first users, testing prototypes developed by the private sector to help bring new products and services from the lab to the marketplace.
  • We launched the Open Government initiative, which aims to give greater openness and accountability—providing Canadians with more opportunities to learn about and participate in government—and drive innovation and economic opportunities.
  • We created the Open Data Portal to provide a single point of access to government datasets for use by Canadian innovators.

Success Story: Canadian Open Data Experience

CODE logo

The Canadian Open Data Experience (CODE) was a nationwide hackathon that wrapped up on March 28, 2014, in Toronto. Students, entrepreneurs and innovators competed to build the best open data app based on data available through, the Government of Canada's Open Data Portal.

CODE was intended to promote the use of open data and teach enterprising young developers and innovators how to use the Open Data Portal to develop useful and usable apps powered by raw government data.

The goal was to inspire an entire generation of developers and designers to focus on creating innovative open data apps for Canada, and the results far exceeded expectations.

The theme was "Solving Problems and Increasing Productivity Through the Use of Open Data," and in just 48 hours:

  • Over 900 participants joined the appathon from across the country, with representatives from every province
  • Over 100 open data apps were submitted at the end of the event—far more than we ever imagined

With these figures, CODE has officially become the largest hackathon in Canadian history—all powered by the Government of Canada's open data.

The Government's commitment to unleashing the potential of open data and helping to drive innovation represents a unique opportunity for Canadian entrepreneurs.

Robert Herjavec, CODE judge and star of ABC's "Shark Tank"

5 Canadian Content

Providing easy online access to Canadian content will allow us to celebrate our history, arts and culture and share it with the world.

Under Digital Canada 150

In Canada, arts and culture contribute to Canada's economy and employ over 630,000 Canadians throughout the country. Source: Canadian Heritage

  • Canadians will have easy online access to Canadian content that will allow us to celebrate our history, arts and culture.
  • Canadians will see themselves reflected in digital content and will have a broad range of choices in the way they access that content.
  • Our creative industries will have greater capabilities to seize digital opportunities, promote Canadian content and play a more prominent role in the global marketplace.

The NFB is working to digitize its entire collection of over 13,000 titles to make the works accessible as never before and preserve them for the future

Source: National Film Board

What's New

  • Our partnership with Historica Canada will create two new Heritage Minutes—short films on key events in Canadian history—every year from now until 2017.
  • We will continue to support the Canada Book Fund and the Canada Music Fund with permanent funding to create new digital content and enhance the visibility of Canadian content on digital platforms.
  • We will provide continued support for the Virtual Museum of Canada and the Online Works of Reference in the new Canadian Museum of History to share Canada's stories and treasures online.
  • We will continue to enable Historica Canada to expand The Memory Project, a publicly accessible digital archive of Canada's participation in the First and Second World Wars, the Korean War and peacekeeping operations as seen through the eyes of thousands of veterans.
  • We will continue to support the digitization and online publication of millions of images through the partnership of Library and Archives Canada and
  • We will continue to support digital content creation through our partnership with the National Film Board's innovative and interactive new apps and new channels with international partners.

Library and Archives Canada and
are digitizing about 60 million images from numerous collections

Source: Library and Archives Canada

What We've Done

In 2010, more than 150 CMF-funded projects were sold across 6 continents

Source: Canada Media Fund, International Sales

Success Story: The Memory Project

The Memory Project is a nationwide project that creates a record of Canada's participation in major conflicts around the world as seen through the eyes of thousands of veterans.

Group portrait of the Signal Corps No. 18 Platoon, taken at No. 20 Canadian Army Basic Training Camp in Brantford, Ontario, on January 28, 1942.
Group portrait of the Signal Corps No. 18 Platoon, taken at No. 20 Canadian Army Basic Training Camp in Brantford, Ontario, on January 28, 1942. Portrait of Captain Brian J. Murphy, Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps. Signal officers of the Women's Royal Canadian Naval Service (WRCNS), Halifax, Nova Scotia, October 1943.

The Memory Project provides First and Second World War veterans, Korean War veterans and peacekeepers with the opportunity to share their memories through an unprecedented collection of oral interviews, digitized artefacts and memorabilia. The archive gives veterans, students, teachers and all Canadians the opportunity to view and listen online to hundreds of personal stories of Canadian servicemen and women from across the country.

The Memory Project Archives is an initiative of Historica Canada and is made possible with funding from the Government of Canada. Currently, it features nearly 2,800 stories from veterans and nearly 9,000 photos, as well as 23 lesson plans and learning tools for educators to use in the classroom. The site had more than 140,000 unique visitors in 2013.

We hope we will continue this intergenerational dialogue by inviting every veteran and currently serving Canadian Forces member to join the Memory Project Speakers Bureau to share their stories with the next generation of Canadians.

Brigitte d'Auzac de Lamartinie,
Director of Program and Communications,
Historica Canada

Moving Forward

Digital Canada 150 is an ambitious plan that will provide a new direction and vision for Canada. It enables Canadians to meet the challenges and seize the opportunities of our age, just as our forefathers did in their time. Canada has a good start in becoming a digital nation. Now it's time to take the critical steps to write the next chapter in Canada's story.

This strategy asks each of us to do our part and demonstrate the same ingenuity and enthusiasm for the grand task at hand as our ancestors did.

For individuals, that means acquiring the skills and embracing the opportunities of the digital economy.

For businesses and not-for-profit enterprises, it requires adopting digital technologies and integrating them into their operations.

For government, it means implementing the policies and creating the environment necessary for Canada to be at the forefront of the digital world.

It is imperative that we keep our plan current because, in the digital world, change is the only constant. We are committed to continuously updating Digital Canada 150, adapting to better serve Canadians.