As one of the first speakers at a tech conference in Toronto on Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told attendees that Canada’s technology sector was thriving thanks to immigration.
"As we see anxieties and worries around the world, Canadians know that we get more resilient communities, we get better solutions, we get better innovations, when we bring in people from all around the world. That's why we are doing well even at a time of anxiety — we have seen the Canadian economy flourish over the past few years," Trudeau said in a discussion with Shahrzad Rafati, founder and CEO of BroadbandTV Corp, at the Collision conference.
Collision is a four-day technology conference that has brought big name speakers like Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Timbaland to the city, as well as government officials, representatives from Medium, Microsoft, Sonos, and many more. This marks the first time the conference has taken place outside the US.
Trudeau said Canada is now known for having a significant pool of talent in the tech world, which has led to entrepreneurs starting businesses with the country.
Technology isn't only significant for domestic business, but it actually plays a powerful role in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Technology in science, finance, and innovation have led to incredible advancements in global health (think: vaccines), environment (solar panels, wind turbines, meat alternatives), and so much more. Not all technologies are “big” like these, but the right “small” improvement can make a huge difference in achieving the SDGs — and being open to immigration means being open to diversity and new ideas.
"Access to talent obviously comes from immigration and it comes from training young and educating Canadians right," Trudeau said.
The government has indeed made a point of attracting new tech talent in recent years.
In June 2017, the federal government launched the pilot program Global Talent Stream, which sought to bring in top tech talent quickly and effectively — the idea behind it was that by fast-tracking approvals, the government was able to provide a work permit in less than two weeks.
Between its launch and January of this year, more than 1,000 Canadian companies have been able to hire more than 4,000 highly skilled foreign workers, according to the government of Canada.
Social media platforms must be held accountable for the hate speech & disinformation we see online – and if they don’t step up, there will be consequences. We launched Canada's new Digital Charter today to guide our decisions, learn more about it here: https://t.co/SH7mpyojsjpic.twitter.com/V2C0TmR49b— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) May 21, 2019
The pilot was so well received that it was made a permanent program in March’s budget.
Trudeau added during his conversation at Collision that while some countries, like the US, are decided to limit immigration opportunities, Canada was not going to be one of them.
He said that immigration and investment in education and research has helped the Canadian economy and helped companies thrive.
Canada also launched its Digital Charter on Tuesday that will take action to combat hate speech, misinformation, and electoral interference. He said the country will work in collaborations with tech companies to do so.