Visiting Waterloo for the first time since he became prime minister, Justin Trudeau along with Navdeep Bains, minister of innovation, science, and economic development, visited the Science Teaching Complex to announce the Government of Canada’s intention to invest $12 million into the Southern Ontario Water Consortium (SOWC). After their visit to Waterloo, they stopped by the new Google headquarters to celebrate its opening. </p>
The SOWC is a collaborative project involving 10 post-secondary institutions across Canada. Their aim is to further develop clean water-related technologies. Through the SOWC, the $12 million will be distributed into research.
“The funding we’ve announced today will allow the SOWC to partner with business and non-profit organizations with the goal of increasing innovation and water related collaborative projects,” Trudeau said.
According to Bains, UW’s particular role in this project is to assist in the “deployment of these funds and working with the consortium. The idea is to work with academia, to make sure they work with non-profit, to make sure they work with businesses to really create a leverage for these opportunities.”
Trudeau explained innovation and research are high priorities for his government. This collaboration is meant to encourage that while also encouraging economic growth.
“We know we can and must and will combine the thriving economy with the growing and protected environment. The days when a healthy environment and a strong economy were seen as incompatible goals are long past,” Trudeau said.
With this collaboration, specific goals include developing the “commercialization of new technologies in all areas of water [and] waste-water treatment and monitoring,” Trudeau said. This includes reducing the expenditure of energy, improving water treatment plants, and creating new jobs in southern Ontario.
“We need to make sure we are innovating and investing in the kind of research and solutions that not just southern Ontario, not just Ontario and Canada, but indeed the world is looking for,” Trudeau said, after stating the Liberal government’s commitment to post-secondary education and research.
Trudeau’s visit to Google headquarters began with a throwback to his days in teaching, where he showed and taught students about the House of Commons using Google Cardboard, a virtual reality simulator.
Google also has another headquarters in Kitchener which opened in 2005. Their new HQ can be found on Breithaupt Street, Waterloo in a refurbished and previously unoccupied factory. It is planned to employ over 350 people.
Later, Trudeau spoke to the audience: “What’s happening here really, really matters…. Not just to the region, but to the country and to the world.”
During a media Q&A, a reporter asked Trudeau about how this institution will add to the dialogue on Canadian education falling behind. Various European education systems have adapted coding into their curriculums, but Canada has yet to follow.
Addressing this, Trudeau acknowledged the value in an education based on computers, especially in terms of its problem solving and adapting to changing information.
“Yes we need to do a lot better job of getting young people to understand what coding is and how it is important, how to program, how to problem solve, how to create the most elegant algorithm possible,” Trudeau said. “The engineers might be saying that they are still working on what that might be meaning, but for me making sure that Canada’s education system, respecting provincial jurisdiction obviously, is meeting the challenges of the future. ”