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Evidence of meeting #30 for Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was industry.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Robert Henderson  Executive Director, BioTalent Canada
Grant Trump  President and Chief Executive Officer, Environmental Careers Organization of Canada
Alain Beaudoin  Director General, Information and Communications Technologies Branch, Department of Industry
Shane Williamson  Director General, Program Coordination Branch, Science and Innovation Sector, Department of Industry

5:15 p.m.

Director General, Program Coordination Branch, Science and Innovation Sector, Department of Industry

Shane Williamson

Not to my knowledge, but I could verify.

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Manon Perreault NDP Montcalm, QC

I have one last question.

Is Canada lagging behind the United States in terms of information technology?

5:15 p.m.

Director General, Information and Communications Technologies Branch, Department of Industry

Alain Beaudoin

What area are you referring to specifically?

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Manon Perreault NDP Montcalm, QC

I am talking about computer science and this sector.

5:15 p.m.

Director General, Information and Communications Technologies Branch, Department of Industry

Alain Beaudoin

Are you talking about implementing and using ICTs?

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Manon Perreault NDP Montcalm, QC

Yes.

5:15 p.m.

Director General, Information and Communications Technologies Branch, Department of Industry

Alain Beaudoin

I am not an expert in that area, but various studies have shown that the rate of implementing and using ICTs by Canadian businesses is lower than that of American companies, which has an impact on their competitiveness and productivity.

That’s a fact and that is why, as I said earlier, the government has invested in the programs I mentioned. Actually, the objective is to ensure that small and medium-size enterprises have access to consulting services that allow them to find solutions to increase their ICT use.

That is also why the BDC has set aside $200 million. Their goal is to support the efforts of those small and medium-size enterprises in implementing more information technologies to increase their productivity and competitiveness.

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Ed Komarnicki

Thank you.

I understand, Mr. Butt, that you have a pressing question.

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Brad Butt Conservative Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

I wouldn't say it's pressing, Mr. Chairman, but I did want to thank the gentlemen for being here.

I just want you to expand on what you indicated in your presentation was the third priority of the round table. It said here that the third priority was to further private sector investment in upgrading employee skills and entrepreneurship, and help develop executives who will help grow firms.

Can you be a little bit more specific on that?

I guess what I'm struggling with is the role of the government and the role of the private sector. They're the ones getting these skilled employees or helping to improve the skills of the employees to benefit their businesses, to help them make money. So my concern is, as I sit here as a member of Parliament as someone who came from the private sector before here, what is the real role of the private sector in all of this when they say that private sector investment and upgrading employee skills is a priority for them? What exactly are they meaning? Or how do you interpret that priority clause that was in your presentation today?

5:15 p.m.

Director General, Information and Communications Technologies Branch, Department of Industry

Alain Beaudoin

What will be done in the future is we're going to work with various stakeholders to identify what can be done over the short and medium term. Part of the findings that came out of our work with Nordicity, and we thought it was a positive, is that companies themselves were putting a lot of effort and resources toward on-the-job training because they recognized that this was a requirement in order to keep pace with technological changes and also to increase their competitiveness.

So with regard to the future, the primary responsibility resides with the private sector. As we move forward and work with various partners, we're going to have to determine who does what. But I think it was maybe to figure out best practices as well, because there are firms that are very successful at it, and at the same time at the round table, the industry said this is a requirement. This is a must, from our perspective, in order to succeed in the future. So as I said, it's a complex issue.

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Ed Komarnicki

Thank you very much for that presentation.

Did you have one quick question? Sure, go ahead.

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Kellie Leitch Conservative Simcoe—Grey, ON

Sir, I'm not really trying to run out the clock or anything.

Just a very quick question. First, thank you very much for your presentation. I am a new member of Parliament here.

I know Industry Canada has run some programs that essentially help bridge academics with the commercialization of product. One item that I think has been a challenge is, and you addressed it, Mr. Beaudoin, in your remarks, is the soft skills gap. Do those academics have the right skills to commercialize their products?

What is your quick comment on whether you think that's a whole new group of skills and a whole new group of people we should be educating to help take things from the bench to the bedside, in my health care profession or otherwise. Or, should we be giving skills to the people already in that pipeline? I don't know if we know the answer to that. Do you have programs focusing on that, to help us answer that programming question?

5:20 p.m.

Director General, Program Coordination Branch, Science and Innovation Sector, Department of Industry

Shane Williamson

I guess the best example of a program is the Centres of Excellence for Commercialization and Research. There are 22 now across Canada that were provided up to $15 million, not to support research, but to support all the activities surrounding it to get it to market—not only to market it but to make an impact in the health field.

It's a fairly new program, and it has been a rich source of examples. They are quite a diverse group, and we're learning a lot about the types of approaches that work well or not. The most difficult part is having a good core of executives who can decide if an idea is something that has legs in an industrial setting. Although an idea is quite interesting and is leading-edge research, we’re not sure there's a market for it. That's the challenge. But what these centres bring is all the other skills that academics may not have—there are always exceptions—such as the business plan and the marketing, even approaching venture capitalists and securing that next round of funding. So these are a policy experiment, if you will, for us to see what kind of approaches work in helping get academic discoveries into the marketplace.

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Kellie Leitch Conservative Simcoe—Grey, ON

They're creating new jobs as opposed to just giving a new skill set to those academics.

5:20 p.m.

Director General, Program Coordination Branch, Science and Innovation Sector, Department of Industry

Shane Williamson

That's right. They are bringing the needed skills to them, yes.

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Kellie Leitch Conservative Simcoe—Grey, ON

Very good. Thank you.

March 26th, 2012 / 5:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Ed Komarnicki

Thank you.

Thank you very much for presenting.

Mr. Cuzner posed a question, and if it is within the purview of Industry, we'd expect you to respond back. If it is not, respond back indicating that it's not the case. Okay? Thank you very much.

I'll ask the committee to stay back for a moment. I just want to discuss a couple of travel plans before the budget comes in next Wednesday.

With respect to the travel budget—Rodger, you weren't here before we broke for the break week—the Liaison Committee wanted to get a budget for both our eastern travel and our western trip. They wanted to see budgets for both legs of the trip, and the 905 trip, so I've asked the logistics officer to put something together.

On the western trip, we start in Vancouver and end up in Estevan on Thursday. We bring everybody back to Toronto, or wherever you might be going, on Thursday. She had lumped in the Barrie trip that was suggested by the parliamentary secretary on Friday, and I had indicated that we would all be travelling home on Thursday, or wherever we would be going on our points, and that Barrie should be a separate trip by itself, at some other date. So we wanted to split that off.

The other part that you can be thinking about, and I'll ask for comments, was that the western trip has some late-night flights. Since we decided not to go with a charter, it's a little more problematic to arrange flights.

To give you some idea of what it might look like, we would leave Vancouver at 6:30 and arrive in Whitehorse at 8:48, so no problems there. From Whitehorse we need to get to Fort McMurray, and we need to travel through Calgary. So if we left Whitehorse at 7 p.m., we would get to Calgary at 10:37 at night. We could overnight in Calgary or catch the 11:30 flight to be in Fort McMurray at 1:45 a.m.

Now, if you overnight in Calgary, it would mean an extra $5,000 and change, with $800 in flight costs and so on.

Does the committee wish to do a late flight into Fort McMurray or do an early flight to Fort McMurray? I think the early flight would leave at 7:35 in the morning. If you left late and got there late, you would start later.

The rest of the flights aren't too bad. You would get into Regina at 8:51, which would be fine. On the reverse side, getting you back to Toronto, it would be leaving Regina at 6:35, getting into Toronto at 23:38, if that's where you were going, on Thursday night.

So there are some late flights involved. The question specifically is with respect to Fort McMurray, I guess, because I think that one gets you in at 12:45 in the morning.

Do you want to do that or do you want to overnight in Calgary? We have to settle that question so that she can work it accordingly.

Does anybody care...?

Ms. Crowder.

5:25 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

I'm too old to do the 12:45 a.m. flight. I mean, you won't get into your hotel until 2 o'clock in the morning by the time you leave the airport, get to the hotel, get checked in.

For some people it becomes a health issue, I think. I don't mind the other flights that are at 9 o'clock or 10 o'clock at night, or even 10:30, but when you start getting in at 2 o'clock in the morning, where we can avoid it, I—

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Ed Komarnicki

It would be 12:45 a.m.

5:25 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Yes, exactly.

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Kellie Leitch Conservative Simcoe—Grey, ON

I'll be really honest with you. I don't want to play doctor on this trip.

5:25 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Well, exactly.

Honestly, I think it ends up being 14-, 16-, 18-hour days, and I just think it's too much of a health issue.

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Ed Komarnicki

So is it the consensus that we do overnight in Calgary and leave in the morning?

Go ahead, Mr. Shory.

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Devinder Shory Conservative Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Chair, if I heard it correctly, then we have to leave at 7 a.m.

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Ed Komarnicki

It will be 7:35.