Government of Canada and Government of Quebec announce the creation of an international centre of expertise in Montreal for the advancement of artificial intelligence 

News release

September 6, 2019 – Montréal, Quebec 

The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, and Nadine Girault, Quebec’s Minister of International Relations and La Francophonie, announced the creation of a Montréal-based international centre of expertise for the advancement of artificial intelligence (AI) as part of the Global Partnership on AI (GPAI).

The two ministers are also preparing a memorandum of understanding that reflects Quebec’s unique role as an essential partner in the development of responsible AI as part of Canada’s participation in the GPAI.

In collaboration with industry, the scientific community and civil society, the international centre of expertise will contribute to the responsible development of AI founded on ethical principles, human rights, inclusion, diversity, innovation and economic growth. Its mission will be to analyze measures for strengthening the country’s capacity to commercialize and adopt AI-related technologies. The International Centre of Expertise will be supported by, among others, the International Observatory on the Societal Impacts of Artificial Intelligence and Digital Technologies, which is funded by the Quebec government. It will also support the work of the Government of Canada’s Advisory Council on Artificial Intelligence.

The federal government has committed to investing up to $10 million over five years to support the activities of the centre of expertise once it begins operations. This is in addition to a $5-million grant previously announced by Quebec—and awarded to Montréal International—to create or attract an international AI organization. The total amount of the investment will be up to $15 million over five years. 

The Government of Canada and the Government of Quebec intend to closely collaborate with all provincial and territorial governments as well as with partners beyond Canada’s borders. The establishment of the GPAI will support international AI development.

Promoting Canada’s competitive advantage in the field of digital technologies is one of the pillars of the Government of Canada’s economic growth strategy. The federal government is working with other levels of government, businesses, civil society and universities to ensure that all citizens are able to reap the social and economic benefits of AI.

For the Government of Quebec, the creation of an international centre of expertise for the advancement of AI in Montréal is the result of a structured approach designed to endow the city with an international organization specialized in AI—one that is at the core of a Quebec high-tech and knowledge industry made up of many forward-thinking organizations.


“The Montréal ecosystem is recognized as a leader in AI. Quebec’s collaboration on the centre of expertise in artificial intelligence will contribute significantly to the coordination of efforts on artificial intelligence in order to anticipate issues associated with this technology and promote its responsible adoption, both in Canada and on a global scale.”
– The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development 

“Thanks to its significant scientific network, large university community and innovative companies, as well as the work of its distinguished researchers, Montréal was ideally suited to host this centre of expertise. Quebec’s unique status within the GPAI will also give a voice to both the government and the ecosystem it represents. This agreement—which is the result of the intensive work of, and collaboration between, the two levels of government over the last several weeks—reaffirms the Government of Quebec’s commitment to positioning the province’s expertise among the world’s best and expanding its power of influence.”  
– Nadine Girault, Quebec Minister of International Relations and La Francophonie 

Quick facts

  • The centre of expertise will support the implementation and thematic work of the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI), which was recently discussed at the G7 Leaders’ Summit. 

  • Canada has a flourishing AI ecosystem composed of more than 800 start-up companies, 60 public research labs, 75 incubators and accelerators, and 60 groups of investors from across the country, grouped in clusters in places such as Toronto, Montréal, Waterloo, Edmonton and Vancouver. 

  • Montréal and Quebec are an ideal place to host a centre of expertise in AI. Montréal is at the forefront of global discussions on ethical and responsible AI. 

  • In AI, Quebec and the city of Montréal also stand out through a unique collaboration that embodies the fundamental multistakeholder approach to AI. Montréal International has contributed greatly to the advancement of AI, in addition to being a key partner in the discussions that led to today’s announcement. 

  • A true AI ecosystem, Montréal has a pool of 91,000 qualified workers in information and communications technologies from nearly 5,000 organizations. This ecosystem also includes 9,000 students enrolled in university programs specializing in AI and data processing.  

  • The centre of expertise will also benefit from significant investments in AI in Canada. In addition to receiving more than $500 million in foreign direct investment since 2017, the Montréal ecosystem has benefited from nearly $1 billion in public funds, both from federal and Quebec provincial initiatives. Of this funding, $40 million comes from the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy, while $230 million comes from the Innovation Superclusters Initiative for the Montréal SCALE.AI Supercluster, which is focused on supply chains and SMEs. Over 10 years, it is expected to contribute $16.5 billion to Canada’s GDP and help create 16,000 jobs. 

  • The GPAI was formerly known as the International Panel on Artificial Intelligence (IPAI). In December 2018, at the G7 Multistakeholder Conference on Artificial Intelligence, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Minister Bains and Cédric O, France’s Secretary of State for the Digital Sector, announced the Mandate for the IPAI. In May 2019, they made public the Declaration and organizational structure of the IPAI at the end of the informal meeting of G7 Digital ministers. 

  • The creation of the GPAI is a key element of the Canada-France Statement on Artificial Intelligence

Associated links


Media Relations
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

Maéva Proteau
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of International Relations and La Francophonie

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