The Interview

Navdeep Bains on Ottawa’s plan to save Canadian tech amid COVID-19

Navdeep Bains thinks he’s found a way to assuage the concerns of Canadian technology companies that don’t qualify for the billions in pandemic relief funding the federal government has announced prior to today. 

The innovation minister unveiled funding for two additional programs this afternoon: $250 million for the Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) and $962 million for regional development agencies. The former will be made available to early-stage tech firms in the coming days, and Bains hopes it will help over 1,000 firms protect 10,000 jobs. The latter will fund both loans and grants, and will roll out “as soon as possible.”

Talking Point

Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains has spent the past several weeks fielding calls from tech leaders concerned they’re being left behind in the government’s COVID-19 response. In an interview with The Logic, Bains discusses his answers to those concerns, which come in the shape of two new programs: $250 million for the Industrial Research Assistance Program and $962 million for regional development agencies.

In a Friday afternoon interview with The Logic, Bains argued the two programs would provide a lifeline to tech firms struggling amid COVID-19. He also spoke about a host of other requests from tech companies—including pausing scientific research and experimental development (SR&ED) audits and fintechs’ plan to loan $2 billion to tech firms—and whether he still plans to get telecoms to lower their rates by 25 per cent.  

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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