Notables- January 9, 2019

Josh Wheeler
January 10, 2019

By Craig Bamford

Copyright Act review moves into final phase

Welcome to Notables for January 9th, 2018!

First this week: Industry committee continues to study Copyright Act changes, as public consultation ends.

Over the past year, since December 14th, 2017, the Standing Committee on Industry, Science, and Technology has been undertaking a comprehensive review of Canada's main copyright law, the Copyright Act. This review had already been scheduled by the previous government; the 2012 changes to the Copyright Act mandated a review after five years. But the current government has made a point of widening the scope of this mandated review in line with the overall Innovation Agenda, stating that "A well-functioning copyright framework should enable Canada's creators to take full advantage of the opportunities presented by digital technology, provide a supportive environment for business and investment, and position creators for success in a competitive marketplace."

As of December 10th, the public portion of the review concluded, as the review moves into its final phase. Witness depositions and written briefs have been submitted from all corners of the Canadian tech landscape; everybody from the Department of Canadian Heritage, to Google Canada, to Universities Canada, to famous Canadian authors like Cory Doctorow either submitted briefs or appeared as witnesses. The consumer advocacy group Open Media, in particular, made an open call for public feedback on copyright changes to incorporate into their own brief, submitted back in November. Thousands of comments have also poured in from average Canadians concerned with copyright.

The third and final phase of the review will focus on briefs and depositions from legal scholars and lawyers "working in the field of copyright law". The report is slated to be concluded in early 2019.

"Progress has stalled" on gender equality in Canada

Next this week: gender equality "at a standstill".

A new report from PwC Canada casts a disturbing light on the efforts to create gender equality in Canadian workplaces. The report says that, despite attempts to increase women's representation on boards and in C-suites, "progress has stalled".

The report conducted a global survey of over 3,500 professional women between the ages of 28 and 48, including nearly 250 Canadians. The data suggests that there is a lot of "room for progress", pointing out that 35% of Canadian respondents say that diversity is "a potential barrier to career progression", 36% believe that taking advantage of work-life balance or flexibility programs would be detrimental to their careers, and more than half believe that employers needed to pay more attention to gender equality regarding internal promotions.

This is cited by PwC as a serious potential drag on Canadian innovation. Jean McClellan, National Leader, People & Organization Practice at PwC Canada, said that "there's mounting evidence to suggest a diverse workforce leads to more innovation and stronger financial results. Creating an environment where women thrive makes good business sense." Diversity improves companies' innovation revenues, margins, bottom line, and talent attraction. The report suggests two main avenues for improvement: increasing access to leadership roles, and elimination of pay inequality. McClellan says that "every step towards achieving greater gender equality will pay off", and points to "communication related to promotion and pay criteria, sharing data on the current state of D&I, measuring results and making the necessary adjustments to their D&I strategy" as methods companies can use to achieve these goals.

To read the report yourself, click here.

Senate Issues Report on Climate Change effects on agriculture

Finally this week: the Senate Agriculture Committee produces a new report on climate change, agriculture, and innovation.

The Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry produced a report last December named "Feast or Famine: Impacts of climate change and carbon pricing on agriculture, agri-food and forestry." Climate change is already a hot topic, but in agriculture, it's especially salient; minor climate changes can lead to enormous ecological changes and weather disruptions that will disproportionately affect agriculture. In Canada, it is especially important; some regions may become less hospitable for agriculture and forestry, but other regions may become more so, depending on overall climate change.

The committee noted that ecological changes due to climate change were not a future issue, they were a current issue. Wet and warm weather in British Columbia led to a rise in parasitic infestations in livestock, while drier weather in Nova Scotia had a huge impact on agricultural output, and Ontario has seen a significant rise in crop insurance claims due to increased rainfall. In forestry, too, climate change has had a significant impact, leading to the growing severity and frequency of "disturbances" like drought, fires, and insect attack. Forest composition is also likely to change drastically, as species shift northward.

The Senators said that there are also opportunities. Aside from forests' well-known role as carbon sinks, both sectors are seeing significant climate-related innovation. In agriculture, producers are focusing on reducing livestock-based climate change emissions using genetic engineering, and are employing other techniques that keep carbon in the soil. This could be very valuable under a carbon pricing regime. In forestry, advanced simulation models are being employed to guide replanting choices, and careful forest management is being used to limit the effect of disturbances like fire and insect damage.

The report suggests that encouraging these innovations will require ensuring that offset protocols reward agriculture and forestry companies for these innovations, and that the government encourage the use of less carbon-intensive materials. To read the report, click here.

Notables is a weekly collection of interesting science, technology, investment and innovation reports, press releases and other news bytes from around the web. Notables are curated and written by Craig Bamford.

Have a report or press release you want to share? Let us know!

The views and opinions expressed in this piece are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of RE$EARCH MONEY.


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