On-line Connectivity of Canadians and Canadian Businesses Continues High - and Growing - While Government Has Room to Improve, Stratford Index Reports

Annual Digital Media 'Report Card' from the Stratford Institute Reveals Gaps

While Canadian households and businesses have high rates of broadband and/or internet connectivity that increased from 2010 to 2011, government has room for improvement in terms of connecting with citizens on-line and being open in providing information, says The Stratford Report 2012 issued annually by the Stratford Institute. Unveiled by Ian Wilson, Executive Director of the Stratford Institute today at the CDMN Canada 3.0 2012 digital media forum, the report indicates that Canada ranks 6th out of 66 countries for Open Government in 2011, was in last place for Freedom of Information Laws when compared to 4 other comparable countries in 2010, and has dropped from 26th to 35th place in terms of government procurement of advanced technology products comparing 2010 to 2011.

"In Canada we have a very connected society that embraces the digital world, with a high rate of connectivity at home and at work, but the measures of Open Government, policies on Freedom of Information, and technology procurement have slipped for our government year over year," said Wilson. "That's why a forum like CDMN Canada 3.0 is so important in bringing together all sectors - business, government and academia - to enable dialogue and influence solutions as to how to advance towards being more competitive in the global digital economy."

The report shows that fixed and mobile broadband and internet services available to Canadian households has grown from 96% to 98% from 2010 to 2011, and since 2009 there has been a 10 percentage point jump in households with both broadband and internet service (now at 72.2%). The average number of web pages viewed monthly by Canadians online has grown from 3349 in 2010 to 3781 in 2011. Canadian businesses have also moved the connectivity marker, from 90% in 2010 to 94.3% in terms of those businesses that have a broadband connection.

"The Stratford Index gathers information from publicly available studies that help paint a picture of Canada's status in the global digital economy on an annual basis, serving as a sort of report card to measure progress and hopefully encourage more improvements," explained Wilson.

Other interesting shifts between 2010 and 2011 revealed in the report are in the education and health care fields. While the tech sector created 10,000 new jobs in 2011, the number of university graduates qualified to fill tech jobs was only 2000. In eHealth, while Canadian hospitals jumped 9 percentage points from 65% of hospitals utilizing at least one component of the HER system to 74%, the number of physicians whose offices are using available technology for elements of patient healthcare dropped 3 percentage points from 40% to 37%. Canada's overall ranking for health care compared to 17 peer countries was a 10th place ranking in 2011.

The report also reveals that while 95% of Canadians feel the preservation of Canada's documented heritage is important, only 13% of Canadian publications are currently available online and less than 1% of Canadian film, broadcast and audio-visual materials are currently online.

"For a country with citizens who are highly connected and clearly interested in accessing content, the archiving of our culture as a whole is still a major gap," said Wilson.

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