Justin Trudeau pledges $2.4bn to back growth of Canadian AI
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Artificial Intelligence (AI) development is booming, prompting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to announce upwards of CA$2.4bn worth of investment into the technology. 

Canada’s budget is due to be unveiled this week, and in a pre-budget speech on Sunday (April), Trudeau revealed that the investment in AI will form part of the government’s financial plan for the country.

“These investments are going to be a gamechanger,” he informed the media. 

The funding will focus on AI research, including into how the technology can be responsibly developed and implemented, as well as skill and talent development and regulation.

Of the CA$2.4bn announced, CA$2bn will be used to increase access to computing and technological infrastructure. The government plans to engage with the technology sectors to formulate an AI strategy.

Canada is home to an extensive finance sector and by extension, a thriving fintech and payments sector. Some companies based in the country have become major players in international payments, such as Nuvei, recently acquired by Advent International for $6.3bn.

The potential of AI for payments and finance in general have been widely discussed. Fraud prevention and anti-money laundering (AML) are two key areas of discussion, although the general automation of day-to-day tasks is often highlighted as a benefit.

However, the risks of AI have also been noted extensively. This has prompted some governments, particularly governing countries with extensive fintech and tech sectors – the US and UK for example – to establish their own AI Safety Institutes. 

Creating a Canadian counterpart to the UK and US institutes is an added objective of Trudeau’s multi-billion dollar funding plans. Given the British and American bodies recently signed a cooperation agreement, the inclusion of Canada’s new institution, as and when it begins operating, could be a possiblity.

“We want to help companies adopt AI in a way that will have positive impacts for everyone,” Trudeau explained.

The Canadian PM’s planned investment in AI mirrors developments on the other side of the Atlantic, where the UK government is also eyeing up the tech as a significant growth driver. 

Whilst creating its AI Safety Institute, the UK government also outlined plans for £500m worth of funding in AI development back in November, and this was reiterated by Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, in the Spring Budget. 

AI is already utilised extensively by the British finance and fintech sectors, which make a significant contribution to the country’s annual GDP.

However, although Canada is home to significant finance, tech and fintech sectors, the government has other industries on its mind. A CA$200m fund will be directed towards AI adoption in agriculture, health care and clean technology.

This has been welcomed by companies operating in these sectors. Treatment AI, a firm specialising in AI solutions for the healthcare sector, pointed out to Payment Expert that the AI healthcare market is expected to increase in value, from $11bn in 2021, to $187bn by 2030.

Dr, Essam Hamza, CEO Treatment.com AI, said: “Globally and here in Canada, our healthcare systems are crying out for evolution and AI has a significant opportunity to positively disrupt healthcare vs most other industries.Therefore, this announcement by the federal government comes at an opportune time. 

“The future of healthcare delivery is going to look completely different than what it looks like today, through increased utilisation of credible and pertinent AI solutions like what we’ve created at Treatment.com AI. We look forward to participating in imminent discussions with the federal government.”