Ontario Budget Reflects Strategy for the Knowledge Based Economy



    OTTAWA, March 27 /CNW Telbec/ - The Honourable Dwight Duncan, Ontario
Minister of Finance delivered a budget yesterday that asserts the Province's
determination to build a strong knowledge based economy and provide an
attractive environment for investment by knowledge based enterprises. It also
helps lay the foundation for a strong information and communications
technology strategy for Ontario.
    "The budget highlights the importance of collaboration and partnerships
to promote and support new business investment," said Bernard Courtois,
President and CEO of the Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC).
"We have been in just such a partnership for a year now, in close consultation
with the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade and other departments to
strengthen the attractiveness of Ontario as a place for ICT companies to do
business. The budget reflects a serious commitment to engage strategically on
the issues of innovation, talent and productivity identified in this
collaboration."
    "The key measure to foster an innovation intensive economy has already
been announced. The Next Generation Jobs Fund will provide a $1.5 billion
impetus for job growth particularly in knowledge intensive sectors like ICT,"
Mr. Courtois said. "But the budget contains a number of other innovative
measures to bolster innovation."
    For example, the government is offering a ten year income tax holiday for
new corporations that commercialize intellectual property developed in
Canadian Universities and Colleges and research institutes. It also promises
to enhance the Ontario Innovation Tax Credit.
    "The availability of highly skilled men and women is critical to the
success of any knowledge-based economy," Mr. Courtois said. "A cornerstone of
this budget is the $1.5 billion Skills to Jobs Action Plan. This builds on
previous steps the government has taken to ensure that the Province is
distinguished by the highly skilled quality of its workforce." The plan aims
to renew the infrastructure of Ontario's educational campuses. It will bolster
Ontario's exemplary apprenticeship program (which is the only one in Canada
that includes ICT workers among eligible apprentices) and it earmarks
$355 million for retraining unemployed workers.
    "Our consultations on talent have underscored the need to encourage more
young people to pursue studies in science and math," said Courtois, "So we
were pleased to see worthy programs like Let's Talk Science, Youth Science
Foundation Canada and the MITACs Accelerate Ontario program given valuable
support. Our consultations also addressed the need for better integration of
immigrant workers into our economy and the budget makes provision for that."
    "Improving the productivity of all Ontario's enterprises is critically
important to the success of our 21st century economy," Mr. Courtois said.
"ITAC has advocated the need to improve productivity through the wise use of
ICT investments across all sectors including small and medium sized
businesses. This budget contains a meaningful initiative that affirms and
supports this priority."
    ITAC, in its consultations with MEDT, and in work with Ministry of
Government and Consumer Services has also advocated the need to build
Ontario's broadband infrastructure to all parts of the Province. The budget
allocates $30 million to enhance broadband access in southern Ontario to grow
and improve access to e-learning, e-commerce, and e-health.
    "In summary I would say it's clear the government shares our commitment
to maintaining a strong, innovative ICT sector in Ontario. And it's clear that
they are listening to the ICT industry's suggestions on how to do that."

    The Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC) is the voice of
the Canadian information and communications technology (ICT) industry in all
sectors including telecommunications and Internet services, ICT consulting
services, hardware, microelectronics, software and electronic content. ITAC's
network of companies accounts for more than 70 per cent of the 589,000 jobs,
$137.6 billion in revenue, $5.2 billion in R&D investment, $22.6 billion in
exports and $11.5 billion in capital expenditures that the industry
contributes annually to the Canadian economy.




For further information:

For further information: Bernard Courtois, President and CEO, ITAC,
(613) 238-4822 ext. 231; Lynda Leonard, Senior Vice President, ITAC, (613)
238-2250 ext. 223

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Information Technology Association of Canada

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