Minister Bains wants to talk intellectual property. What about student debt?

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An event was held in UW’s Engineering 7 building lead by the Federal Minister of Innovation, Navdeep Bains on August 1, 2019. His new plan is supposed to help small to medium-sized enterprises with their personal data control. The Innovation Skills Plan (ISP) that the minister announced is meant to invest in Canadian enterprises with ideas that will not only offer more job opportunities, but Bains said the plan would also expand the economy and make businesses successful through innovation.

“In 2015, when Trudeau made the case to form the government, we talked about economic growth, investing an infrastructure, and we talked about investing in the middle class and tax cuts,” Bains said during the question and answer segment.

“We didn’t talk a lot about it during the campaign, but it became a focal point for the government around innovation. The idea is important because if we need sustainable robust growth we need to invest in innovation.”

According to Bains, if we need more jobs, more economic growth, and more Canadian companies succeeding, then smart industrial policies are needed to thrive. ISP is supposed to create a national strategy around intellectual property, Bains said.

Imprint had a discussion with Bains asking the important questions involving intellectual property for both the students at UW and the issues that they are currently facing. After he toured around the Robohub with one robot that remembered and communicated with him, Bains took questions.

When asked why Bains chose the UW’s Engineering 7 building he stated it was because, “Waterloo has an incredible reputation not only within Canada, but globally as well. It is known for the intellectual property generated.” He continued, stating “[we] want to come here to announce the government’s first National Intellectual Property Strategy as part of our innovation skills plan to help Canadian companies grow, to help Canadian companies hire more Canadians that need more…and to create global charities as well.”

When it comes to university students, Bains stated that the Intellectual Strategy Policy, “is really designed to assist them, particularly through legal clinics so that they can give them good intellectual property advice at an affordable price points. So that’s the idea behind [it] is to really assist students in small and medium size businesses in the Canadian ecosystem.”

There have been concerns regarding the announcement. The first involving the lack of public domain, if everything is covered by intellectual property.

“I think we need to be mindful that we are always going to have these solutions we are always going to have new ideas, but you can’t have any new idea and not protected because if you don’t you don’t see the commercial benefits, economical benefits.” Bains continued, “That is really what we are trying to do is to with this National Intellectual Property Strategy is to create education and awareness to really help small and medium sized businesses in Canada, in particularly young entrepreneurs who are coming though academic institutions.”

Another concern regarding this strategy is with students who are trying to pay their debts. “Our message is we are trying to accomplish both. We are trying to help them in terms of their ability to start a business, to grow a business…and we put forward policies and programs with more grants, reducing interest rates, deferring the timeline for payments, to provide within the systems when it comes to tuition fees as well.”

Regarding OSAP, Bains discussed how the federal government can ease the burden on students stating, “We are supporting academic institutions through major investments in infrastructure that will provide more grants, reduce the interest rates for repayment schedules and defer repayments for any federally related loans that students take out. We are doing our fair share to provide relief to the provinces in the universities and more importantly to the students.”

When asked how the Ministry of Innovation is making the burden of tuition lighter on university students, Bains said “We’ve been invested significantly in Universities and colleges across the country. One of the first acts that we undertook under infrastructure and investments was to upgrade our facilities right across the country that is called the two billion dollar strategic infrastructure fund and leveraged with the provinces and territories.”

He explained in detail that, “It actually generated five million dollars’ worth of investment to create the state of our facilities such as the one I’m standing in (the engineering building) to help students to get a better learning experience. We also invested more money in federal labs that co-collaborate with the students so they can have better opportunities to learn, grow and have the latest technologies in terms of their ability to try out new solutions and ideas.”