Canada: Artificial Intelligence: The Year In Review

Last Updated: January 17 2018
Article by CyberLex Blog, Carole J. Piovesan and Kirsten Thompson

Most Popular Article in Canada, February 2018

By all accounts, "Maple Valley" is thriving.

2017 saw Canada, home to the second largest tech sector outside Silicon Valley,i solidify its position as a leader in the field of artificial intelligence ("AI").

Based on available data to date, it is estimated that funding raised by Canadian AI companies in 2017 will exceed US$250 million, representing an almost two-fold increase from the previous record historical high of US$143 million in 2015.ii This healthy injection of private-sector funding has been accompanied by significant public investment. Notably, the 2017 federal budget provided for C$125 million in research and development funds earmarked for AI initiatives and nearly C$1 billion over 5 years to promote innovation superclusters.iii

Access to unprecedented levels of capital, a strong network of academic institutions, improving infrastructure and availability of talent facilitated by open immigration rules have fuelled the development of a burgeoning industry north of the border. Joining dozens of growing start-ups in AI cluster cities such as Toronto or Montreal, global tech giants such as Google, Facebook and Samsung have invested in or opened Canadian AI labs in 2017.iv

The regulatory landscape impacting AI continues to evolve both domestically and abroad. As we begin the new year, we pause to reflect on some of 2017's most notable developments in AI and prepare for new trends to watch out for in 2018.

What we saw in 2017:

  • New federal support and plan for AI: Budget 2017 signalled the Government of Canada's clear priority to foster innovation in a number of key industries, including AI. The Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy was launched in March 2017 with a view to increase and support our national research community on AI, connect Canada's major centres for AI development and lead the global discussion on the economic, ethical, policy and legal implications of advances in AI.v More broadly, the federal government announced funding for innovation superclusters, began a review of its business innovation initiatives to better align them with client needs, and established Innovation Canada, a new platform created to coordinate the public programs made available across several departments in support of Canada's innovative companies, including AI
  • A survey of AI policy, innovation and regulations abroad:

    • United States: In May 2017, the US Congress established the Artificial Intelligence Congressional Caucus, tasked with informing policy decisions with respect to AI and ensuring rapid growth and innovation in this industry. This signals American lawmakers' continued support for developing a national AI policy roadmap despite the change in administration since the publication of the Obama-era White House National Artificial Intelligence Research and Development Strategic Plan.vii Additional policy discussions of note have emanated from the United States Government Accountability Office, which released a technology assessment of the Internet of Things respecting the status and implications of an increasingly connected world.viii
    • United Kingdom: In January 2017, the Science and Technology Committee of the UK House of Commons released its report on robotics and AI with recommendations for supporting AI research. Chief among its recommendations is the creation of a national council on AI with membership drawn from academia, industry and government to produce a government-backed "National Robotics and Autonomous Systems Strategy".ix The Committee is holding ongoing consultations to better understand issues related to the proliferation of advanced AI systems. In fall 2017, the UK government announced it will invest £75m into delivering recommendations from an independent review on AI, and will open a Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation.
    • European Union: In February 2017, the European Parliament passed a resolution titled "Civil Law Rules on Robotics", pursuant to which the European Commission is to propose rules on robotics and AI, in order to fully exploit their economic potential and to guarantee a standard level of safety and security.x In October 2017, the European Parliament released its preliminary findings on its public consultation on robotics and AI. Meant to inform the EU's position on ethical, economic, legal, and social issues, the consultations revealed support for the creation of a central EU regulatory body on AI. The European Commission published a preliminary response to some of the European Parliament's recommendations and has committed to working on a EU response on AI following its own public consultation and stakeholder dialogue.
    • Estonia: The small country of Estonia, with a population of around 1.3 million people, is outlining options for extending legal representative rights to AI.
    • China: The Chinese government announced an ambitious goal of becoming a leader in AI innovation and regulation by 2030. In December 2017, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology published a document outlining its goals to lead in AI.
    • South Korea: In February 2017, the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning released a plan to prepare South Korea for advancements in AI-enabled technologies. The plan identifies policy goals relating to workforce preparedness, education and social welfare as well as a number of targeted measures to manage the development of AI in South Korea. These reforms include an overhaul of the country's Framework Act on National Informatization and the establishment of a Charter of Ethics for AI (by 2018) and protocols to guide developers and users.xi
  • Privacy continues to be a concern: In his remarks delivered in May 2017 at the IAPP Canada Privacy Symposium, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada emphasized the need to proactively engage with organizations that use AI and other cutting edge-innovations to ensure accountability in this rapidly evolving area.xii From an automotive industry-specific perspective, the Privacy Commissioner signed the Resolution on Data Protection in Automated and Connected Vehicles during the 39th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners in September 2017. This non-binding document acknowledges the rapid advancement of vehicle automation and connected vehicle technologies and expresses concern about the possible lack of available information, user choice, data control and valid consent mechanisms for vehicle owners, drivers, passengers, other road users and pedestrians.xiii
  • Competition law is a hot topic: In September 2017, the Competition Bureau released its consultation paper entitled "Big data and Innovation: Implications for competition policy in Canada".xiv The report canvasses how the acquisition and use of Big Data, which is essential to AI systems, can raise competition issues. Competition and privacy issues affecting Big Data were considered by the Federal Court of Appeal in its decision in Toronto Real Estate Board v. Commissioner of Competition,xv released on December 1, 2017. The decision has profound implications as it relates to risks of non-compliance with the civil prohibitions against abuse of dominance under the Competition Act stemming from allegations of data monopoly.
  • Continued dialogue between non-governmental actors: The 2017 Asilomar Conference, involving some of the leading thinkers in AI, released a list of 23 principles ranging from research strategies to data rights to future issues including potential super-intelligence. These principles, which underscore ethical and societal values for beneficial AI development, were endorsed by a total of 3,814 signatories, including over 1,250 AI/Robotics Researchers and twice as many thought leaders such as Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk.xvi
  • AI in Fintech is an area of focus: A number of public consultations and reports in 2018 have centered on the opportunities and challenges related to the integration of AI in the delivery of financial services. Of note is the European Commission's public consultation document on Fintech and the European Banking Authority's response, published in March and June 2017, respectively.xvii Access to information, transparency, cybersecurity risk, market distortions caused by widespread automation and limited data portability are identified as areas of concern. Similar issues were raised by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision in its August consultative document on Fintechxviii and by the Financial Stability Board in its November 2017 report on the implications of AI for financial services.xix

What to watch for in 2018:

  • The AI industry will continue to experience rapid growth: Building on the success of 2017, the AI industry in Canada and globally is expected to continue to experience rapid growth in 2018 and beyond. By 2020, the worldwide market for AI-related products is predicted to reach US$47 billion, up from US$8.0 billion in 2016.xx Industries such as healthcare and financial services, which have traditionally been particularly proactive in integrating AI technologies to improve business models in various capacities, will continue to drive the market. Over the coming years, AI is also likely to progressively make its mark in traditionally more conservative industries – including the legal practice – as parties become more exposed to transformative technologies and weigh the opportunities and challenges associated with the deployment of AI.
  • Expect developments in respect of privacy requirements: In late 2017, the Privacy Commissioner invited stakeholders across Canada to comment on draft guidelines in respect of consent and data practices under the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), which is currently under review. The final form of these guidance documents, likely to be released this year, will assist those organizations relying big data analytics and AI that such uses are appropriately disclosed. Canadian businesses should also take note of the forthcoming entry into force of the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation ("GDPR") in May 2018. The GDPR will apply to any company offering goods or services to EU residents. Discrepancies between the GDPR and Canadian privacy law requirements may pose new challenges to businesses who come within the purview of both regimes.
  • Intersection between AI and other transformative technologies: The intersection between AI and other technologies, including blockchain, is gaining attention from theoretical and applied perspectives. We expect to see growth in the areas of AI and blockchain, quantum computing and Internet of Things (IoT), among others.
  • Strategic acquisitions and competition for talent: The acquisition of AI start-ups, particularly in our innovation hubs of Toronto, Montreal and Edmonton, is expected to heat up. The most recent announcement of TD Bank's acquisition of Layer 6, and AI start-up based in Toronto, is the beginning of what we expect to be one of many this year. Not only will such acquisitions fuel innovation but it will also propel the competition for talent in applied AI.

McCarthy Tétrault and AI

In this environment ripe for opportunities and challenges, legal counsel must keep up with AI to marry legislative compliance and the application of industry best practices in various jurisdictions with a practical knowledge of commercial and technical outcomes. McCarthy Tétrault, named Law Firm of the Year at the 3rd Annual Canadian Fintech & AI Awards presented by the Digital Finance Institute in November 2017, is thinking ahead to cross-disciplinary ways in which AI and the law will intersect, to provide comprehensive advice to our clients.

Our 2017 Transformative Technologies and the Law series explored the conceptual and practical legal issues arising from the integration of AI into organizational processes, operations and business models. Consult our first White Paper entitled "From Chatbots to Self-Driving Cars: The Legal Risks of Adopting Artificial Intelligence in Your Business", published in October 2017. Our series of seminars will continue this Spring 2018 with a focus on Managing Privacy Litigation Risk.

AI will also continue to feature prominently in our 2018 McCarthy Tétrault Advance Continuing Professional Development program, with seminars focusing on Open Banking, Cyber Insurance, Automated Cars as well as in the context of our 7th Annual Technology Summit.

For more on AI and the law, see our blogs on all things related to Fintech generally and AI and Machine Learning specifically.


i Jack Derricourt, "Understanding the legal risks of deploying AI in businesses - An interview with Carole Piovesan", DX Journal (2 December 2017), online:

ii PwC & CB Insights, MoneyTree Canada Report (Q3 2017), online:

iii Government of Canada, "Innovation superclusters initiative (ISI): Program guide", online:

iv Denise Deveau, "Here's what the AI map in Canada looks like (at least today)", Financial Post (14 June 2017), online:

v Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, "Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy Overview" (30 March 2017), online:

vi Government of Canada, "Canada's Innovation And Skills Plan", online:; Government of Canada, "Innovation superclusters initiative (ISI): Program guide", online:; Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, News Release, "Government of Canada review will ensure that innovation and clean technology programs deliver results for Canada's innovators" (6 September 2017), online:

vii Congressman John Delaney, "Delaney Launches Bipartisan Artificial Intelligence (AI) Caucus for 115th Congress" (24 May 2017), online:

viii United States Government Accountability Office, Technology Assessment: Internet of Things (May 2017), online:

ix United Kingdom, House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, Robotics and artificial intelligence: Government Response to the Committee's Fifth Report of Session 2016-17 (London: House of Commons, 2017), online:

x EC, European Parliament resolution of 16 February 2017 with recommendations to the Commission on Civil Law Rules on Robotics (2015/2103(INL)), online:

xi South Korea Ministry of Science and ICT, "Long-term Service R&D Strategy Road-map and Investment Plan Announced " (27 February 2017), online:

xii Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, "Course correction for improved outcomes for Canadians: Remarks at the IAPP Canada Privacy Symposium 2017" (17 May 2017), online:

xiii International Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners Conference, "Resolution on Data Protection in Automated and Connected Vehicles" (25-29 September 2017), online:

xiv Competition Bureau, Big data and Innovation: Implications for competition policy in Canada, online:

xv Toronto Real Estate Board v Commissioner of Competition, 2017 FCA 236.

xvi Future of Life Institute, "A Principled AI Discussion in Asilomar" (17 January 2017), online:

xvii EC, Consultation Document: Fintech: A More Competitive And Innovative European Financial Sector, online: ; European Banking Authority, EBA Response, online:

xviii Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, Sound Practices: Implications of fintech developments for banks and bank supervisors (August 2017), online:

xix Financial Stability Board, Artificial intelligence and machine learning in financial services, online:

xx International Data Corporation, "Worldwide Cognitive Systems and Artificial Intelligence Revenues Forecast to Surge Past $47 Billion in 2020, According to New IDC Spending Guide" (26 October 2016), online:

To view original article, please click here.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions