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Ottawa promises funding to address risk of food contaminated by listeria, artificial intelligence research


March 24, 2017   by Canadian Underwriter


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The federal government is proposing to spend $125 million on a “strategy” for artificial intelligence, to be administered by the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR).

“From smartphone applications that can understand human speech to self-driving cars, artificial intelligence is changing the way that people interact with each other and our world,” the ruling Liberals said in their budget document for 2017-18, released Wednesday. “Budget 2017 proposes to provide $125 million to launch a Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy for research and talent.”

That strategy, the government promised, “will promote collaboration between Canada’s main centres of expertise in Montréal, Toronto-Waterloo and Edmonton and position Canada as a world-leading destination for companies seeking to invest in artificial intelligence and innovation.”

Many Canadians “already live in ‘smart homes’ where lighting, temperature, security and appliances are interconnected, and the promise of self-driving cars grows closer every day,” the federal government added.

“Expanding the pipeline of Canadian talent for artificial intelligence will benefit businesses that wish to develop and submit a proposal for an artificial intelligence supercluster,” the government said in its document. “A leader in the area of artificial intelligence, the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) will be responsible for administering the funding for the new Strategy.”

The federal government also “proposes to invest up to $149.3 million over five years, starting in 2017-18, to renew core food safety inspection programming delivered by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Health Canada,” the Liberals said in their budget document. “This proposed investment would support inspection activities in meat processing facilities, support targeted programming to address the risks associated with listeria contamination, and allow for the ongoing operation of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s Inspection Verification Office.”

The federal government is projecting expenditures of $315.1 billion for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2017 with revenues of $292.1 billion for a deficit of $23 billion. The deficit is projected to increase to $28.5 billion in 2017-18, with deficits in each of the four years after that. The federal debt is expected to rise from $637.1 billion now to $756.9 billion in the 2021-22 fiscal year. Gross bond issuance is projected at $142 billion in 2017-18.

Of the $315.1 billion the government is projected to spend this fiscal year, $24.3 billion will be in interest payments on the accumulated debt. Annual interest payments on the debt are expected to rise to $33.3 billion in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2022.