Data Innovation Critical to Ontario’s Economic and Social Well-Being

(Toronto – June 16, 2020) – Today, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) released its latest report, In Data We Trust: Unlocking the Value of Data in Ontario. With the COVID-19 crisis rapidly transforming the modern economy, the report outlines the need for Ontario to unlock opportunities and manage the threats of its increasingly data-driven economy.

“Long before COVID-19, it was evident that data has quickly become one of the most valuable resources in our economy, revolutionizing traditional business models across finance, health care, manufacturing, and many other sectors,” said Rocco Rossi, President and CEO of the OCC. “The reality is that almost everything we do as consumers relies on and is made possible to some extent by data analytics and related technologies, from fraud detection to supply chain optimization. In many ways, the pandemic has accelerated this transformation, as the need for digitization and the integration of health data have become more critical than ever.”

In Data We Trust reflects on the value of data innovation, explores lessons from COVID-19, and outlines organizational best practices and policy recommendations focused on privacy, cybersecurity, data sharing, and artificial intelligence (AI).

“Digital contact tracing, adoption of AI technologies, and expansion of 5G networks: all of these will benefit our society, and will require mobilizing data in responsible and innovative ways,” explains report author Claudia Dessanti, Senior Policy Analyst at the OCC.

Key takeaways include:

Privacy frameworks should protect individual rights while encouraging data-driven innovation. Ontario and Canada should reinforce their principles-based approach with strong industry standards. Businesses and other organizations have an important role to play to ensure their own privacy practices enhance public trust.

Cybersecurity breaches are affecting organizations of all kinds. More can be done to build capacity and limit future attacks with stronger adoption of industry standards, information sharing, and best practices around risk assessments, staff training, technology adoption, and insurance.

Data sharing is an opportunity to improve efficiencies and spur innovation across the economy. Organizations should collaborate on shared standards and infrastructure to enable data sharing across all sectors, including health care, without compromising privacy. Meanwhile, governments should improve the use of their open data programs.

AI is a competitive advantage that Ontario should leverage. Going forward, the province should prioritize expansion of regional broadband infrastructure, translate AI research expertise into widespread adoption of the technology, prepare the workforce for an AI-driven economy, and mitigate ethical risks related to AI use.

“The data revolution does come with certain risks, including the erosion of personal privacy, data security breaches, labour market disruption, ethical challenges, and increasing regional inequality,” added Dessanti. “That is why it is incumbent on the private and public sector to work together to create an environment that encourages data-driven innovation while protecting against these very real challenges.”

In Data We Trust was informed by a Data Working Group composed of leading experts from a range of sectors across the province.

Supportive Quotes

“Privacy, security, and trust are at the core of our business at TD. As discussed in this report, financial service providers around the world are facing an increasingly complex cyber landscape. In 2019, we were proud to launch the TD Fusion Centre, a state-of-the-art operational hub that incorporates multi-disciplinary teams and a best-in-class digital approach to manage cyber risks and protect the data and financial assets of our customers, stakeholders, and the broader economy.” - Andrea Gorog, Global Head of Fusion Operations, TD Bank Group

“As we seek to better understand the many and varied impacts that COVID-19 has had on our communities, data analytics can be used for modeling and analysis to provide key insights into how to manage our recovery. At TELUS, we believe we have a moral obligation to use the trends and patterns that can be drawn from our wireless mobility network to decrease the health and economic impacts of the virus and contribute to research that can save lives in future pandemics. Our Data for Good initiative allows us to leverage de-identified network data while protecting the privacy of Canadians, and we are prepared to do what we can to slow the spread of the virus and help government and organizations to make more informed decisions on the economic recovery. Protecting our customers’ privacy and safeguarding their personal information is vitally important to TELUS, and with Data for Good we will continue to be open and transparent about how we handle, use and protect customer information.” - Pamela Snively, VP and Chief Data & Trust Officer, TELUS

“The ever-increasing importance of data in our economy highlights the need for highly skilled cybersecurity professionals to protect this valuable resource. Seneca’s new graduate certificate in Cybersecurity & Threat Management was developed with key industry partners to meet this demand by equipping graduates with both the technical sophistication and management skills required for this dynamic and rapidly evolving sector.” - Ranjan Bhattacharya, Dean, Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering Technology, Seneca College

“At $5.75 trillion and growing quickly, Cyber Crime is the largest single business/industrial sector there is. Far greater than the global automotive sector, or the global oil and gas sector, or the global

telecom sector. The monetization of other peoples’ data is the prime objective of this well managed, well funded and creatively orchestrated global enterprise. Major business disruption and demise are left in its wake. Safe and secure access to the marketplace - a keystone tenet of free enterprise - is at risk today. CyberSecurity must be everyone’s concern.” - Charles Regan, CEO, Nerds On Site

“As a health solutions partner committed to improving the wellbeing of Canadians, we are finding tremendous power in data to unlock important patterns and trends. This allows the opportunity to make informed decisions and bring forward innovative solutions to best support the needs of our patients, plan members, partners and communities. And now, COVID-related data is accelerating the need to show up in new ways – further building on integrated models of care and digital solutions to improve health outcomes.” – Bernard Lord, CEO, Medavie

“As our global digital economy continues to scale, so does the complexity of the cybersecurity landscape. The OCC Data Report demonstrates the challenges faced by these organizations and business, as well as the growing demand for cybersecurity talent. With the power of a global network and leading industry faculty, Northeastern University—Toronto’s Master of Science in Cybersecurity combines an understanding of information security technology with relevant knowledge from law, the social sciences, criminology, and management, while also being designed for working professionals and recent graduates who want knowledge they can apply in their workplaces to assess and manage information security risks effectively.” - Avnish Patel, Marketing Manager, Northeastern University—Toronto

About the Ontario Chamber of Commerce

For more than a century, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) has been the independent, non-partisan, indispensable partner of Ontario business. The OCC’s mission is to support economic growth in Ontario by defending business priorities at Queen’s Park on behalf of its network’s diverse 60,000 members.

For more information, please contact:

Michelle Eaton
Vice President, Public Affairs
Ontario Chamber of Commerce
michelleeaton@occ.ca or 647-261-4594


Our Mission is to Improve the Wellbeing of Canadians.

Medavie is a health company that oversees Medavie Blue Cross and Medavie Health Services. Together, we’re bringing Canadians better health and access to care.