The Canadian Business Resilience Network brings together a vast network of over 450 chambers of commerce and boards of trade and more than 100 of Canada’s leading business and industry associations, from all regions and sectors of the economy. This network represents diverse viewpoints, and the CBRN blog provides a platform to share ideas with other members of the business community and the federal government. The opinions expressed in this blog post do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of CBRN or the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.
In this thought leadership piece from Rogers, they explain the importance of technology infrastructure in Canada and its vital role in our economic recovery.
If there is one thing we have learned in the past five months, it is the importance of staying connected and the vital role our country’s networks play in enabling these connections.
In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadians and businesses had to adapt quickly. Many shifted to a work from home model, and home internet usage increased dramatically across carriers – by up to 50% to upload content and 70% on the download. Governments, businesses and in some cases, entire industries, had to innovate to shift operations online and serve customers in new ways.
As the economy slowly opens up and Canada moves towards recovery, we must apply the lessons we have learned in recent months. Our resilient networks, among the highest performing in the world, played a critical role in carrying us through this crisis and will continue to play a central role as we rebuild and secure Canada’s future prosperity. The federal government’s recent Economic and Fiscal Update – a forecasted deficit of $343.2B this year with the Canadian economy projected to shrink by 6.8% – only reinforces the importance of Canada’s technology infrastructure in helping catalyze Canadian productivity and push the GDP to new levels of output as Canada recovers from the pandemic.
Now is the time for Canadian policymakers and the private sector to come together to power a tech-driven recovery.
We need to partner to expand connectivity. The digital divide between urban and rural Canada came into sharp focus during the pandemic, and it’s one we must tackle together to ensure businesses, no matter where they set up shop, and families, no matter where they live, are connected.
We need to support small and medium-sized enterprises. SMEs were hit particularly hard by the economic lockdown, but they are critical to our recovery. As RBC’s five-point-plan to help Canadian small businesses points out, they represent more than 40% of GDP, and created close to 60% of new jobs prior to the health crisis. We need to focus on driving digital adoption in this sector, as well as supporting work from home technologies. But as the pandemic hit us, only four out of 10 small SMEs had an online presence to receive and fulfill orders. RBC’s plan also calls for a more focused approach to trade. Supply chains were interrupted by the pandemic and small firms will need to pivot quickly and innovate to supply products for both domestic and more fragmented global markets.
We need to innovate with smart cities. Our municipalities are starting to take a visionary approach to planning and development. This includes embracing the possibilities that the Internet of Things offers to improve the efficiency of services, realize savings and provide growth opportunities for SMEs. A strong technology infrastructure coupled with reliable networks and a pool of skilled talent is what will bring smart cities to life.
We need to ensure Canada leads in 5G. We are poised to make the leap from 4G to 5G technology, a significant milestone that promises enormous opportunities for SMEs and big businesses alike. “There’s no question Canada is a global 4G superpower today. That likely means there are few other countries better prepared than Canada to deploy the 5G networks of the future,” according to OpenSignal.
We’re in this position today because Canada’s telecommunications regulator and policymakers successfully promoted facilities-based competition over many decades – and Canadian operators have spent billions of dollars to build, maintain and expand networks.
Connectivity is key to Canada’s future prosperity, and it’s vital we have the right policy and regulatory environment to support our country’s tech-driven recovery.