The Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC) welcomes many of the goals outlined by Ontario’s lieutenant governor, Elizabeth Dowdeswell, in her Sept. 12 throne speech, and looks forward to helping the provincial government achieve them, the organization announced this week.
ITAC CEO Robert Watson said that he was particularly inspired by Dowdeswell’s stated commitment to investing in worker training, citing IDC Canada research that currently pins the country’s IT worker shortage at 54,000 positions, mainly in applications development, operations, and business-facing roles.
“The shortage of talent in the technology sector is a major issue that is hampering the growth of innovative companies,” Watson said in a Sept. 12 statement. “We need more students and workers pursuing technology careers. The education, experiential learning and re-training programs outlined in the Throne Speech are important avenues for addressing this challenge.”
Among the talent-boosting initiatives mentioned by the throne speech:
- Improved mathematics education in primary and secondary schools;
- Increased access to co-ops and experiential learning opportunities;
- Investment in job training that aligns with today’s job market, including collaborative efforts with industry organizations, educators, and unions on new training and retraining programs.
ITAC also welcomes the provincial government’s commitment to improving Ontario’s business competitiveness, Watson said, and its promise to upgrade the province’s health care system and transportation infrastructure, the latter of which he noted could be greatly supported by the ICT sector.
“From better outcomes and front-line patient experience in our healthcare system to investments in ‘smart’ infrastructure with sensors and other connected technologies in the internet of things, Ontario’s ICT industry will help the government deliver better services and reduce costs,” Watson said in the statement.
As for encouraging a competitive economy, in her speech Dowdeswell said that Ontario would continue to maintain a low-tax environment and actively pursue investments from across the world, with a focus on autonomous and electric vehicles.
Other highlights from the speech included a government promise to rebate the provincial portion of HST from consumer electricity bills – equal to an eight per cent reduction – starting in January, a benefit that will extend to small businesses.
Larger firms, meanwhile, will have a greater chance of being eligible for the Industrial Conservation Initiative, a program that encourages large-scale consumers to reduce electricity demand during peak hours. Presently few tech companies outside of data processing/hosting businesses and large manufacturers qualify.