Yes, Madam Speaker.
My USB key has infinitely more data.
My son, and members will see a pattern here, is also an electrical engineer. He uses a system like Microsoft. He asked me about the image for the save button. It is a floppy disk. He does not know what that is because he has never used one.
That is the rate of change we are living in. That is the speed at which things are happening. I am an electrical engineer trained in this area and I have a hard time keeping up.
When this is happening, we have two courses of action. We can resist change or embrace change.
There are people who always resist technological change. They are called Luddites. “Luddite” comes from the name of Mr. Ned Ludd, who over 240 years ago had smashed what we call stocking frames. These were knitting machines, new machines introduced to automate knitting, and the textile industry picked them up. He was against automation, because it was going to cost him his job.
This is where we find ourselves. We either embrace technology and move forward, or we fight it.
Now, Canadians embrace technology. If we look at the rate of usage, say on the Internet, eight out of 10 adult Canadians are on the Internet regularly, once a day. In fact, Canadians lead the entire world in the amount of time they spend on the Internet. If we look at things today like non-cash payments, cashless payments, whether it be debit cards, credit cards, or online payments, again Canadians are in the top two or three in the world.
Canadians see and understand this need, and they embrace technology. We understand this, too. Our government understands that we must embrace technology. That leads me to our innovation budget.
To embrace technology is to understand that the rate of change is constant. There is the example I gave about changes in my father's career, in my career, and in my son's electronic engineering career. It means we need lifelong learning.
We have to make a commitment to always be learning. This is why I am so excited about this budget. It makes a very strong and clear commitment to help Canadians constantly learn. It starts with this phenomenal investment of $2.7 billion over the next six years into the labour market transfer agreements. This means people will be able to upgrade their skills. They will be able to gain experience. They will be able to start a business and help plan their careers. It is a phenomenal amount of investment to ensure that they remain up to date.
We are going to create a new organization for skills gaps. We are going to be looking at where the needs are from companies and we are going to be looking at where the people should be studying, and put them together. We have people looking for work and we have companies looking for people. We need to make sure they share those skill sets.
We are going to help adults return to school. We are going to do this by looking at new ways to support them. If people are part-time students, we are going to give them access to funds. If people have dependants, we are going to help so that they can go back to school and gain that experience. If, for example, people are receiving employment insurance and find themselves needing to upgrade their skills, they will no longer be in a conflict of interest. They will be able to continue to get their employment insurance and upgrade their skills at the same time.
We are going to invest in co-operative training, a lot more. We are going to seek to put, maybe 10,000 more positions for co-operative training, so that people not only learn from books but they get the experience hands on, working in the field.
Finally, we are going to do something that is particularly close to my heart. We are going to teach children digital skills. We are going to teach them to code. This is close to my heart, because our government underwent a series of consultations. At some point we were criticized for doing too many consultations, but regardless, we did a lot of them.
At one of my consultations on innovation, we did a round table. At the end of two hours of talk, I asked everyone at the table if they could give one message to send to the minister, what would it be. One fellow said, “Teach kids to code. That is it. Do not write anything else. Just teach kids to code.” I wrote it down. I sent it up, and sure enough I was particularly pleased to see in this budget a reference to teaching kids to code and an investment of $50 million to ensure that from kindergarten right up to grade 12, they are going to learn this new language. They are going to have the resources to get that done.
If we look at the ensemble of these innovation training programs, we see that we are capturing adults who need to be retrained. We are capturing older people who have been in the workforce and are maybe on unemployment and need to get back into the workforce. We are going to help people who need to get experience by helping them with their co-operative training. We are going to help young people.
We have an ensemble of products to help make sure that Canadians have access to innovation. That is a fundamental aspect of moving forward in the innovation economy.
The second thing we are going to do is help business innovate. Again, we have brought in a whole platform of programs to help our companies be more successful in this world.
What are we going to do? We are going to support superclusters with an investment of $950 million in these high-tech areas to ensure that Canadians are always leading in specific areas of high tech.
We are going to put a lot more money into venture capital. As new companies are formed and need to be financed, we are going to put $400 million toward financing new capital.
We are going to put money into an innovation program. Right now, there are so many programs out there it is hard sometimes to find one's way. We are going to consolidate them, simplify them, and make it easy for our businesses to find these innovative products.
Finally, we are going to invest in clean tech, which is another great opportunity for the future.
As members can see, we live in a world of constant change. We live in a world where what we know today will have to be augmented or learned upon. I have seen that in my own career. My father has seen it, and my son will see it. Each of our careers as electronics engineers will change.
Our commitment to ensuring that Canadians are up to speed and have access to education, in whatever form they need it, and our commitment to helping businesses innovate will ensure that Canadians have prosperity for years to come.