Yukon North Of Ordinary

News archive for February 15, 2013

Minister announces creation of new technology directorate

Economic Development Minister Currie Dixon announced Thursday that his department will form an information, communications, and technology directorate aimed at strengthening the industry in Yukon.

By Ainslie Cruickshank on February 15, 2013 at 4:21 pm

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Photo by Whitehorse Star

Economic Development Minister Currie Dixon

Economic Development Minister Currie Dixon announced Thursday that his department will form an information, communications, and technology directorate aimed at strengthening the industry in Yukon.

The directorate will work to implement recommendations from two reports presented at an event co-hosted by the Yukon Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development yesterday.

The reports include a telecommunications development report commissioned by Economic Development and an ICT sector strategy report by the Yukon Information Technology and Industry Society (YITIS) and the Business Development Bank of Canada.

“The ICT industry brings high paying, high skilled jobs to the territory, and not only as an industry in and of itself,” said Dixon. “It’s an industry that’s key to supporting other industries like mining, tourism or any other small or medium sized enterprise.”

The directorate will also complete a feasibility study examining the possibility of a back-up fibre-optic link to Alaska.

“The Yukon government is interested in exploring the possibility of electrical grid connection with Skagway, Alaska and including telecommunications infrastructure in that conversation makes good sense,” Dixon noted in a press release yesterday.

Expanding on those comments today, Dixon said “as we know redundancy is an issue in the Yukon, we’ve got a single cluster of cables down the highway and they are vulnerable basically to any dump truck or backhoe between here and Fort St. John.

“So we’re interested in seeing some redundancy introduced to Yukon and we know our neighbours in Alaska are interested with partnering with that.”

The NDP’s Economic Development critic, Jan Stick, said she’s pleased with the announcement.

“I think it’s great. It’s good to hear the Yukon government say what we’ve been saying for a long time that this poor state of telecommunications that we have in the territory right now is a barrier to economic growth and participation in the knowledge economy. We are behind,” said Stick.

She commented that the two reports provide all the information necessary for moving forward to improve the industry, now it’s a matter of action and she hopes to see it sooner rather than later.

Dixon said the directorate will likely be established within the next few months.

Yesterday, the minister also announced annual core funding for YITIS to the tune of $50,000.

“Both (reports) suggest that intra-industry collaboration is needed and I see YITIS as a ready made solution to that. YITIS has done a great job so far but in order for them to take the next steps and really engage in a meaningful way they need some financial support and that’s what I’ve offered,” he said.

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