Hello. Thank you everyone for taking the time. I appreciate that the committee has been drinking from a firehose of information, so I hope to be concise, clear and hopefully give the committee something interesting to take away.
As mentioned, my name is Bilal Khan, and I'm the managing partner at Deloitte. I'm head of Deloitte data, which really focuses on data analytics and artificial intelligence, primarily around governance, strategy and public policy as they relate to the new economy. In addition to this, I sit on the Province of Ontario's digital and data task force, which is a private sector task force responsible for setting a series of recommendations for the future of the province. Prior to being with Deloitte, I built one of the largest scale-up innovation hubs in Canada called OneEleven, which is focused on late-stage technology companies.
Deloitte is one of Canada's leading professional services firms. We employ well over 14,000 people across the country. Deloitte's purpose is to inspire and help our people, communities and our country thrive by building a better future for us all, something I think we all can relate to. We take great pride and responsibility in contributing our perspective on the issues that matter to our country and that affect the Canadian business community, more broadly.
As part of our commitment to the future prosperity of Canada, we've established the future of Canada centre. It's our research and public policy branch designed to spark vital discussions about the country's future to help all Canadians thrive in the new economy.
At Deloitte, we believe that Canada has an opportunity, in fact, a responsibility, to be a global leader in the new economy. My remarks today will focus on how Canada can compete on the world stage as a true global leader in the artificial intelligence and data-driven economy. To set the context a bit, Canada is extremely well positioned to reap the benefits and opportunities of an AI and data-driven future, thanks in part, first, to early leadership from our academic institutions; second, a highly trained workforce; third, an effective skills-based immigration system; fourth, continued investments in artificial intelligence; and fifth, the Canadian government's leadership in creating an open data ecosystem.
Canada lags behind other countries when it comes to the commercialization and adoption of artificial intelligence. Canadian businesses don't believe Canada is well positioned to lead in the data economy. Our research shows that Canadian businesses are facing several challenges when it comes to the new economy. Canadian businesses significantly trail their peers on AI adoption. At least 71% of Canadian businesses have not even begun their AI journeys, partly because as a mid-sized economy we have smaller datasets than companies in larger countries. In the new economy, data scale matters.
Most Canadians don't understand AI or its implications, which is holding back business investments. Businesses and consumers distrust AI and are concerned over unintended consequences from AI-powered decisions and data privacy. There's a lack of clear regulations on artificial intelligence and data, creating uncertainly for businesses and lack of trust for consumers.
We've identified three key areas where bold action is needed to successfully achieve prosperity in the new economy.
First, fuel the AI economy. Good data makes good AI possible. If AI is going to drive our economy, which it eventually will, Canada needs to increase the quality and quantity of public data available to researchers and businesses to commercialize. This is especially true for companies in less populated countries like Canada that often have fewer resources and smaller datasets than larger countries, like we see with the domination of the United States and China.
The Canadian government can help spur innovation by making more public data available in machine-readable format for commercialization purposes and making it easier to use. Other countries are already leading the way. France, Germany, Australia and of course China have made publicly held data such as utility data, transportation data and health care data a feature of their national AI strategies.
Public data is even more valuable when combined with privately owned data. To accelerate this, governments across Canada can increase collaboration with the private sector to ensure that data is being released in algorithm-friendly, machine-readable format.
Second, prepare Canadians for AI and data-related change. In our research we found that only 4% of Canadians were confident in their understanding of AI. We need to better equip our workers for a changing labour market and shield Canadians from being negatively affected by the new economy. To prepare Canadians to respond to social changes that the new economy will bring, governments need to ensure that all Canadians achieve a basic level of AI and data literacy. For example, in Finland they've created a program called elements of AI, a free online course geared to people with no technical background. Experts told us that the popularity of the course outside Finland has also increased Finnish prominence in the global AI ecosystem.
Third, mitigate risk and build trust in AI and data. Trust is the currency of the new economy. In our research we heard from Canadians that they did not trust AI. This mistrust is holding back the adoption of AI. Businesses and consumers alike told us they had concerns about using AI-enabled tools they didn't trust. This is in part due to outdated legislation that does not provide transparency and clarity by clearly laying out the rules concerning AI, data, privacy and security.
We understand that governments must balance both protecting consumer rights, data, and privacy while ensuring and encouraging business innovation. I'm encouraged by this government's effort to update Canada's privacy and consumer protection laws and the digital charter. Legislation must be updated to reflect the reality of today's AI and data-driven economy and legislation should give businesses a clear set of guardrails and consequences to operate within the collection, storage and sharing of data. This is an area where clearer legislation wouldn't necessarily be detrimental to business innovation. This is because, absent timely and specific legislation, the grey zone that businesses are forced to operate in is far worse for innovation.
With a cross-cutting approach to public policy and strong private-public collaboration, we as a country can seize the opportunity to be a true global leader in the new economy. We can achieve AI and data prosperity in a way that will benefit all Canadians.
I look forward to having a discussion through your questions.
Thank you very much.