Editorial – 24-18

By Mark Henderson, Editor

Canadian S&T stands to benefit from a resurgence in federal-provincial cooperation with plans for another meeting of economic development ministers to discuss key aspects of the federal Digital Economy Strategy (DES). The meeting was announced by Industry minister Tony Clement in his update on the DES and marks the second time in less than a year that the ministers will gather.

This follows years in which economic development was largely formulated in two solitudes, with the feds rebuffing provincial overtures to meet for discussions on S&T in 2008 and 2009. The DES is a natural for federal-provincial collaboration. Both levels of government are keen to boost Canada’s information and communications technology (ICT) sector and exploit its huge untapped potential in the areas of health care and natural resource extraction.

Closer collaboration may also be able to partially offset the inevitable cash crunch when it comes to funding the DES. All governments are facing large deficits and greater penetration of ICT will yield productivity gains that can assist them in achieving balanced budgets.

And, in another indication of greater cross-jurisdictional cooperation, Clement recently met with The Council of the Federation to discuss the DES. Formed in 2003, the objective of this low-profile body of provincial premiers is to strengthen Canada by showing leadership on issues important to all Canadians. The DES is a large, complex issue in which all players in society have a role to play, making it a perfect issue in which this group can work to make a difference.