New Government May Mean a Brighter Tech Outlook: CATA
November 13, 2015

New Government May Mean a Brighter Tech Outlook: CATA

Canadian government and technology

The appointment on November 4 of a Minister of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is a pivot to the future for the tech industry in Canada, said John Reid, CEO of the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATAAlliance).

The alliance had previously pushed for an innovation ministry following the Liberal government’s election win in October, and Reid is pleased to see it come to fruition. “It’s part of having a mindset of openness and constructive dialogue,” Reid said. “Whether it’s the cabinet or whether it’s the messaging from the Prime Minister, it’s very much in sync with how we see doing business in the 21st century.

It’s also in sync with a seven-point plan developed by the alliance through crowdsourcing ideas from its membership; the first being the government’s consolidation of State (Science and Technology) and Industry portfolios into a single ministry responsible for science, technology and innovation.”

The appointment of Navdeep Bains to Minister of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development (previously Minister of Industry) is a start. “We only have six more to go,” Reid quipped, referring to his organization's suggestions to the new federal government further:

  • Have an effective SR&ED Dispute Resolution approach be adopted to pave the way for a more effective SR&ED incentive program.
  • Have the new minister and cabinet colleagues initiate discussions with the provinces to match or beat SEC regulations related to crowdfunding in order to make Canada a single market and global hub for crowdfunding.
  • Have the new minister and cabinet colleagues work towards having all provinces copy or better the B.C. Angel Investor Tax credit that returned $2 in provincial tax revenue for every dollar of tax credit.
  • Create a capital gains exemption for founders and early-stage employees who reside in Canada, followed by the creation of an open and global Canada Seedling Market to attract global investors and start-ups that incorporate in Canada.
  • Startup New York tax exemptions
  • Commit 10 per cent of its procurement spend to start-ups. (And for provincial and municipal governments to be challenged to do the same.)
  • Match or beat New York State's Start-up NY tax exemptions model and U.S. Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program to fuel start-ups and business growth.

Reid points the new government to successful programs, like those in place in B.C. to build on what’s worked successfully elsewhere. “We don’t need to reinvent the wheel.”

The alliance also recently called on the newly-elected federal government to correct the course it plans to take with the taxation of stock options. Targeted in the Liberal party’s election platform as a revenue source, the CATAAlliance suggested recently that changing the way stock options are taxed in today’s environment could cause brain drain and make it more challenging for Canada to attract talent.

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