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Trudeau Earmarks C$2.4 Billion for Canadian AI Innovation in 2024 Budget

The Canadian government has announced plans to inject C$2.4 billion into artificial intelligence (AI) innovation.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled the package as part of the country’s 2024 budget, saying the focus is on accelerating job growth in Canada’s AI sector by boosting productivity and ensuring responsible AI use and adoption.

‘AI has the potential to transform the economy. And our potential lies in capitalizing on the undeniable Canadian advantage,’ he said. ‘These investments in Budget 2024 will help harness the full potential of AI so Canadians, and especially young Canadians, can get good-paying jobs while raising our productivity, and growing our economy.”

“This announcement is a major investment in our future, in the future of workers, in making sure that every industry, and every generation, has the tools to succeed and prosper in the economy of tomorrow,’ added Trudeau.

Canada’s AI investment will aim to support the development and accessibility of cutting-edge computing capabilities and technological infrastructure for AI researchers, startups and scale-ups.

Additionally, a new AI Compute Access Fund and a Canadian AI Sovereign Compute Strategy will be established to further catalyze AI infrastructure development within the country.

Under the initiative, C$200 million will be directed toward supporting AI startups and accelerating AI adoption in critical sectors such as agriculture, cleantech, healthcare and manufacturing through Canada’s Regional Development Agencies.

The National Research Council’s Industrial Research Assistance Program will receive C$100 million to assist small- and medium-sized enterprises in scaling up and enhancing productivity by integrating AI solutions into their operations.

Another C$50 million will be allocated to the Sectoral Workforce Solutions Program to provide skills training for workers in sectors potentially impacted by AI advancements, ensuring a smooth transition and enhanced employability.

The establishment of a Canadian AI Safety Institute, supported by C$50 million in funding, will focus on the safe development and deployment of AI technologies, addressing potential risks and fostering international collaboration.

To strengthen enforcement of AI-related regulations, the Office of the AI and Data Commissioner will receive C$5.1 million to ensure responsible AI adoption by Canadian businesses.

‘This financial commitment is a strong signal of Canada’s vision to propel AI. We are convinced that this investment will catalyze productivity, innovation and sustainable economic growth in our country,’ commented SCALE AI CEO Julien Billot, praising the steps the government is taking to increase Canada’s competitive edge in the field.

Canada playing catch up in AI industry

Despite being one of the first countries to attract AI students and researchers through its C$125 million Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy investment in 2017, Canada has slipped down the rankings in AI capacity.

While the country enjoys a surplus of leading experts and developers in the field, it is fifth globally in terms of AI capacity and ranks 23rd in terms of AI infrastructure, according to the Tortoise Global AI Index, released last year.

In addition, Canada currently lacks a dedicated regulatory framework for AI despite its attempts to establish rapid advancements in AI technology early on.

The government introduced the Artificial Intelligence and Data Act (AIDA) as part of Bill C-27 in November 2021, aiming to establish guidelines for the responsible design, development and deployment of AI systems in Canada.

However, the AIDA won’t be implemented in full force until 2026.

Gladstone AI CEO Jeremie Harris warned CBC News last month that at this point, the legislation will be too outdated to accommodate for the advances that have been made in the field.

‘By the time AIDA comes into force, frontier AI systems will have been scaled hundreds to thousands of times beyond what we see today. AIDA needs to be designed with that level of risk in mind,” he emphasized.

With this latest funding injection, the Canadian government is optimistic that it can make up for lost time and solidify its position as a hub for AI excellence in the coming years. Canada’s 2024 budget will be presented in the House of Commons by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland on April 16.

Securities Disclosure: I, Giann Liguid, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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