Governing in an era of rapid technological change
In this report, the Mowat Centre examines the relationship between regulation and innovation in rapidly-changing technological industries. Drawing on extensive interviews with representatives from industry, academia and government, the report analyzes a number of new challenges confronting Canadian policymakers and regulators as they seek to adapt regulatory frameworks for the digital age. Building on this analysis and informed by examples from other jurisdictions, the authors suggest a suite of reforms to Canada’s regulatory frameworks and development processes aimed at enabling them to become more encouraging of innovation.
Governments across the world are scrambling to respond to the arrival of innovative new digital services such as Uber, Netflix and Airbnb. While these services promise great benefits for Canadians, they also pose novel regulatory challenges to how governments are structured, engage with stakeholders and hire and train their staff.
How should governments regulate global services headquartered in other jurisdictions but available digitally within Canada? How can governments engage and encourage innovators and balance their needs with other stakeholders when government agencies struggle to hire and retain personnel who understand the technical issues involved? How can regulators successfully reconcile the deliberate pace of regulatory processes with the accelerating speed of innovation?
Identifying solutions to these questions will be a vital step towards securing Canada’s prosperity in the digital age. Other countries have already launched serious efforts aimed at reducing the burden of regulation as well as other measures designed to make their regulatory systems more innovation-friendly. Without renewed attention to this issue, Canada risks being left behind.
This report argues that Canadian governments can and should undertake a serious and sustained effort to bring their regulatory practices and culture out of the industrial age and into the digital age. Canadian governments have the opportunity to significantly boost innovation in several exciting ways, ranging from a greater embrace of design thinking in their regulatory design processes, to the initiation of programs for enhancing technological capacity within government, to the development of new tools to ensure vigorous competition in digital markets. By leveraging these opportunities, governments can make a significant and positive contribution to Canada’s future and ensure Canadians are well-positioned to promote and reap the benefits of innovation.View PDF
Michael Crawford Urban
May 11, 2017