Canada has reimagined its AI efforts, focusing on growth and research through its Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.

Canada Makes an Effort to Return to Status as AI Leader in Global Tech Markets

About five years ago when we started publishing, we shared stories about the growth of AI, including in Canada as they were really getting on board the AI train. But since those early stories, Canada fell behind other tech-chasing nations and now has a “labyrinthian mess of disjointed policies and programs.”

A piece from brings us the details about Canada and its return to a focused AI network and research, instead of a widely dispersed AI endeavor.

China and Japan have specific, long-term visions for the role of AI in their societies, while the United States and European Union have well-defined mechanisms for coordinating AI-related strategic planning, policy development, research, and investment between departments and governments. Canada does not.

In 2017, the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR for short) launched its Pan-Canadian AI Strategy. Driven by $125-million in federal funding for nationwide artificial intelligence (AI) research and training programs, CIFAR’s initiative made Canada the first country in the world to implement a national AI strategy.

Pretty impressive right? Well, the government failed to pass on this excitement to the Canadian public.

“A recent Ipsos poll revealed that Canadians are among the least likely to believe that AI will improve their quality of life, ranking 27th out of 28 countries surveyed. The skepticism that the Canadian public shows toward AI is an indictment of the federal government’s inability to deliver on its promise of broad-based economic prosperity.”

On the Rise

According to the article by Blair Attard-Frost, Canadian leadership in AI will require a clear, long-term vision, well-coordinated and integrated planning, and meaningful public involvement. Right now, none of those attributes are on display in Canada’s AI strategy.

Now, the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR for short) has been reinvigorated and has had more funds to expand the AI projects so needed for Canada to get back in the AI race to the top.

To list just a few of these programs: in 2019 the Treasury Board of Canada implemented its Directive on Automated Decision-Making to manage the federal government’s procurement of AI products and services.

In the same year, Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada (ISED) assembled AI experts from industry and academia to form an Advisory Council on Artificial Intelligence. ISED also runs the $1.8-billion Innovation Superclusters program, which leverages innovative technologies like AI to spur economic development in specific sectors and industries across the country.

Unfortunately, CIFAR’s own reporting has since revealed that while Canada’s AI strategy has remained narrowly focused on AI research and development, the strategies of other wealthy nations have evolved more comprehensively. However, this article is a positive spin on what promises to be a strong resurgence in the world of AI.