Trudeau announces $2.4B federal investment in AI, tech sector – Global News

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The federal government will be investing $2.4 billion to accelerate Canada’s artificial intelligence (AI) sector, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Sunday.

The investment will be divided between a number of measures meant to advance job growth in the AI and tech industry and boost businesses’ productivity.

“This announcement is a major investment in our future, in the future of workers, in making sure that every industry, and every generation, has the tools to succeed and prosper in the economy of tomorrow,” Trudeau said in a press release Sunday.

Majority of the funds, $2 billion, will go toward increasing access to computing and technological infrastructure. Another $200 million is being invested into AI start-ups to accelerate the technology in “critical sectors” such as health care, agriculture and manufacturing, the release says.

Additional funds will be put toward helping small and medium-sized businesses incorporate AI, with another $50 million being committed to help train workers whose jobs may be disrupted by the technology.

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“AI will help us build a fairer future with more jobs, more growth and even more homes. That’s what we’re focused on. Fairness for every generation,” Trudeau said at a press conference in Montreal Sunday.

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The announcement comes after a recent Leger poll found that AI use is rising in Canada despite “deep-rooted fears.”


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The poll, released in February, found 30 per cent of Canadians use AI tools, which is up about 25 per cent from over a year ago.

Trudeau noted Sunday that innovation and technology are some of the highest paying industries in the country. Demand for recruiting Canadians with AI skills has also skyrocketed in the past year, as the global race to take advantage of the technology deepens.

AI in the recent string of federal budget announcements

The new investment is part of Ottawa’s 2024 budget, set to be tabled by Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland on April 16. The commitment unveiled Sunday is the latest of multiple pre-budget announcements made in recent weeks.

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In late March, Trudeau announced new measures he says will help protect Canadian renters and give them a better shot at breaking into the housing market.

Trudeau said Sunday that alongside the new AI investments, the federal government is “building more homes faster, ensuring every kid has the food they need, investing in health care, making life more affordable and creating good jobs to make sure every generation can get ahead.”

Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne also made an announcement Sunday in Toronto. Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland and Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre are slated to speak as well, in an unusual spread of announcements from ministers.

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The federal government’s press release Sunday notes that it has committed over $2 billion since 2016 to support growth across Canada’s AI sector and in digital infrastructure. In 2017, Canada established the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy, making it the first country to establish a national AI strategy.

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Alongside benefiting from growth in the digital economy, the release says the strategy has been helping “Canada maintain its position as a world leader in AI (and helping) businesses be more competitive.”

“In order to maintain Canada’s competitive edge, and secure good paying jobs and job security for generations of young Canadians, we must raise the bar,” Sunday’s press release says.

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