Canadians are invited to participate in Open Dialogue on AI

News release

Series of virtual workshops taking place across Canada

March 9, 2021 – Ottawa, Ontario

Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies have the power to transform lives and address global challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic, health care and climate change. While AI offers numerous economic opportunities for Canadians, it also poses challenges and risks.

Today, the Government of Canada’s Advisory Council on Artificial Intelligence Public Awareness Working Group, in partnership with CIFAR and Algora Lab (Université de Montréal), is launching Open Dialogue: Artificial Intelligence in Canada, a series of virtual workshops to better understand the public’s perception of AI. The workshops will take place from March 30 to April 30, 2021, in regions across the country and will include designated sessions for youth and Indigenous communities. All members of the Canadian public are invited to register and share their experiences with, understanding of, hopes for and concerns about AI technologies.

Data gathered from these workshops will be included in a final report by the Public Awareness Working Group that will be submitted to the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. The report will be made public on the Advisory Council on Artificial Intelligence website in summer 2021.


“Artificial intelligence holds tremendous promise for the future of our country. Our government is committed to making sure all people living in Canada are able to take advantage of the benefits of AI while understanding the potential risks, such as privacy and security. Gaining a greater understanding of Canadians’ feelings about and understanding of AI will be crucial to inform how we can best support AI innovation and economic growth.”
- The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

“Canada leads the world in its deliberative approach to AI governance and digital technologies. The insights we gather from people in Canada through the Open Dialogue will help inform responsible and ethical AI development.” 
- Marc-Antoine Dilhac, Co-chair of the Public Awareness Working Group and Canada CIFAR AI Chair

“Understanding baseline knowledge about AI, as well as Canadians’ hopes and concerns, is an important foundation for any future public engagement initiatives. The Open Dialogue serves as a pilot program that will help inform our recommendations for sustained public awareness initiatives.”
- Catherine Riddell, Co-chair of the Public Awareness Working Group and Vice-President, Strategic Communications at CIFAR

Quick facts

  • In February 2021, the Government of Canada, CIFAR and Algora Lab (Université de Montréal) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to organize a series of “Open Dialogue” workshops to understand the public’s perception of AI.

  • Open Dialogue will build on the insights gathered through the Canada-wide survey on perceptions about AI and AI systems that was completed in November 2020.

  • Taking an approach informed by the Montréal Declaration for a Responsible Development of Artificial Intelligence and the Open Dialogue on AI Ethics, the workshops will include facilitated discussions based on specific AI use case scenarios. Participants will be invited to consider and discuss the ethical dilemmas posed by particular AI applications.

  • The $125 million Pan-Canadian AI Strategy, announced in Budget 2017 and led by CIFAR, is working to strengthen and build on Canada’s leadership in AI. The strategy supports research on the implications of AI for society, including the economic, ethical, political and legal implications of advances in AI.

  • Canada has a thriving AI ecosystem composed of more than 850 start-up companies, 20 public research labs, 75 incubators and accelerators, and 60 groups of investors from across the country, grouped in major hubs such as Montréal, Toronto, Waterloo, Edmonton and Vancouver.

Associated links


Media Relations
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

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