Canada strengthens its AI leadership with $2.4 billion investment

In a significant move geared towards strengthening Canada's workforce capabilities in artificial intelligence (AI), Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled a transformative $2.4 billion investment plan in Budget 2024. This strategic allocation underscores the government's dedication to empowering workers with AI skills, driving economic growth, and positioning Canada as a global leader in AI innovation.

Canada’s commitment to cultivating a skilled workforce in artificial intelligence (AI) received a substantial boost on April 7 with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s announcement of a $2.4 billion investment package in Budget 2024.

In a move aimed at bolstering Canada’s position as a global leader in artificial intelligence (AI) and driving economic growth, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled a comprehensive $2.4 billion package of measures as part of Budget 2024. The announcement, made on April 7, 2024, underscores the government’s commitment to harnessing the transformative power of AI to create high-paying jobs, foster innovation, and propel the Canadian economy forward.

The new funding opportunities announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for the creation of a Canadian AI Safety Institute and the strengthening of enforcement of the Artificial Intelligence and Data Act closely align with the ongoing explorations and initiatives of the arts incubator and youth media team.

Over recent months, groups like @1860 have been increasingly exploring the intersections of AI technology and community development, recognizing the enormous potential for AI to address pressing issues faced by northern and Indigenous communities. Through their collaborative efforts, they have been actively exploring how AI tools can be leveraged to bridge capacity gaps, foster community engagement, and promote cultural preservation. The emphasis on inclusive and culturally sensitive AI initiatives, as outlined in the new funding opportunities, directly resonates with the ethos of the arts incubator and youth media team, reaffirming their commitment to exploring innovative solutions that prioritize community needs and values.

“AI has the potential to transform the economy. And our potential lies in capitalizing on the undeniable Canadian advantage. 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,” said the Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada. “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.”

Public Awareness Working Group on AI was launched in 2020 under Canada’s Advisory Council on Artificial Intelligence with a mandate to examine avenues to boost public awareness and foster trust in AI. Its objective is to help Canadians have a more grounded conversation around AI, and help citizens better understand the technology, its potential uses, and its associated risks. The Working Group published a report on its public engagement activities in February 2023. A further public report is upcoming specifically on the Working Group’s engagement with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities to better understand their needs, interests, and priorities for AI development and use.

Today’s announcement is designed to strategically accelerate job growth in the AI sector and beyond, enhance productivity, and ensure responsible development and deployment of AI technologies. Key highlights of the measures include:

Investment in Computing Infrastructure: A significant portion of the funding, $2 billion, will be allocated to building and providing access to cutting-edge computing capabilities and technological infrastructure for AI researchers, start-ups, and scale-ups. This initiative aims to attract global AI investment to Canada, cultivate top talent, and bolster the competitiveness of Canadian businesses on the world stage.

Support for AI Start-ups and Adoption: $200 million will be dedicated to supporting AI start-ups and accelerating the adoption of AI technologies in critical sectors such as agriculture, clean technology, healthcare, and manufacturing. This funding will be channeled through Canada’s Regional Development Agencies to facilitate innovation and growth in key industries.

Assistance for Small and Medium-sized Businesses: The NRC IRAP AI Assist Program will receive $100 million to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) scale up and increase productivity by integrating AI solutions into their operations. This initiative aims to empower businesses to leverage AI for research, product development, and testing, thereby enhancing their competitiveness in the digital economy.

Worker Support and Skill Development: Recognizing the potential impact of AI on certain industries, particularly creative sectors, the government will allocate $50 million to the Sectoral Workforce Solutions Program. This initiative will provide new skills training for workers in sectors that may be disrupted by AI, ensuring a smooth transition and fostering a skilled workforce for the future.

Establishment of AI Safety Institute: A new Canadian AI Safety Institute will be created with $50 million in funding to promote the safe development and deployment of AI technologies. This institute will collaborate with stakeholders and international partners to address potential risks associated with advanced AI systems, safeguarding against unintended consequences and protecting specific communities.

Enforcement of AI Regulations: Strengthening enforcement of the Artificial Intelligence and Data Act, the government will allocate $5.1 million to the Office of the AI and Data Commissioner. This measure aims to guide AI innovation in a positive direction, ensuring responsible adoption by Canadian businesses and protecting citizens from potential risks.

“Today, we are making a significant investment to boost our economic growth,” said The Hon. Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance. “This will keep Canada a global leader in AI and ensure we are at the very cutting-edge of new technologies. And most importantly, this will mean more high-paying careers for Canadians who are leading the charge in AI.”

Stay tuned for the tabling of Budget 2024 in the House of Commons on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, where further details of the government’s economic agenda will be unveiled. To read the full announcement, visit

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@1860 Winnipeg Arts

@1860 Winnipeg Arts is a small, community-driven arts entrepreneurship and cultural entrepreneurship program in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Our program began with a pilot program aimed at building organizational capacity for digital arts administration, skills development and training. It is supported by the non-profit organization Niriqatiginnga.

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