By: Kathleen Lau - ComputerWorld
As the race towards Oct. 14 gets serious, CIPS and CATA don't see a strong voice that represents the interests of the technology sector.
Canada's IT associations say the ongoing federal election campaign lacks a strong positioning statement for Canada as an innovation nation and a plan for how the country can accelerate its role as an information economy, but the Liberals and Green parties say they value the contributions of the technology sector.
“And that’s quite important to have that vision,” said John Reid, president and CEO of Ottawa-based CATA Alliance. “Because in order to work through structural changes people want to have a sense of what the roadmap is and how the economy will look different now from five years out.”
By way of information technology, said Reid, the economy will benefit when businesses are able to re-engineer themselves to become more efficient. “None of the parties have done a good job in articulating the role that innovation can play in re-creating
Reid said an IT issue, albeit not new but rising to the fore, is R&D tax credits and its role in attracting and retaining high-value enterprises in
According to Liberal Party spokesperson Joseph Mayer, IT is “absolutely essential” to a successful economy and that the party looks to support the IT industry with investments in R&D and will recommit to “spreading broadband Internet access to rural parts of the economy.”
Mayer noted that it was the Liberals who helped connect schools and libraries to the Web back in the 1990s.
One concern, said Mayer, is hearing other parties talk about eliminating corporate tax cuts. Businesses with stretched resources will very often cut intended investments in updating IT systems. “That’s why we think it’s very important that the corporate sector has a fair tax regime.”
Adriane Carr, deputy leader of the Green Party of Canada described IT’s role in the economy as the “go-to source of information for everyone” and “staunchly” believes that access to the Internet needs to be both protected and available. “Any kinds of barriers or costs to access creates a more privatized flow of information,” she said.
To that end, the Green Party wants to pass legislation that would, said Carr, “grant the Web the status of a common carrier… so that means it should prohibit internet service providers from discriminating and it would free them from liability of content.”
The Green Party is also a supporter of open source technologies, which Carr said is more community-driven and promotes a collaborative and innovative approach to software development. “There’s a vulnerability in these proprietary software that is just not the same as in open source software,” she said, referring to potential system crashes and viruses as leading to system shutdowns.
“Let’s face it,” said Carr, “this is a world of information and technology transfer that happens at such a rapid pace and the use of computers and of the Internet to solve problems is essential.”
As the race towards Oct. 14 gets serious, CIPS and CATA don't see a strong voice that represents the interests of the technology sector. Plus: Cast your vote on our latest blog
Besides R&D tax credits, access to venture capital is another concern for businesses, said Reid, who compared the
In the long run, businesses that can attract, grow and educate the best talent will be winners, said Reid. And while the government has made good steps in the area of immigration, he said “it has to be very much a top headline in terms of who will create the next generation of services and businesses for the economy.”
Another IT issue that also isn’t new, yet continues to be relevant, is the role of government in procurement and supply chain, said Reid. Whereas other governments have reference accounts for their domestic industries, “that’s something we can’t point to as being a leader.”
The issue of procurement ties into
Canadians are typically shy, and it’s even more so in IT workers, said Lane. “IT workers tend to not be the kind of people that are expressive and celebrate success.”
Lane said when he sees young children role playing, they never role play the IT professional. “It’s just not something that kids get excited about and they should [be].”
Another issue plaguing the IT industry, said Lane, is declining enrolment in mathematics and sciences in academic institutions. One reason for that, he added, is the fact that people don’t understand where the 530,000 IT jobs in
The Conservative Party and the New Democratic Party of Canada did not respond by press time.
In terms of conveying a good understanding of
Just last week, CIPS asked each political party to outline their IT strategies, with the intent of posting the responses on the CIPS Web site. As of yet, no responses were received.