Circuit Maple Leaf Illustration

CIFAR Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy

In 2017, the Government of Canada appointed CIFAR to develop and lead a $125 million Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy, the world’s first national AI strategy.

CIFAR works in close collaboration with Canada’s three national AI Institutes - Amii in Alberta, Mila in Montréal, and Vector Institute in Toronto, as well as universities, hospitals and organizations across the country.


  • To increase the number of outstanding artificial intelligence researchers and skilled graduates in Canada.
  • To establish interconnected nodes of scientific excellence in Canada’s three major centres for artificial intelligence in Edmonton, Montréal and Toronto.
  • To develop global thought leadership on the economic, ethical, policy and legal implications of advances in artificial intelligence; and,
  • To support a national research community on artificial intelligence.

CIFAR’s leadership of the Pan-Canadian AI Strategy is funded by the Government of Canada, with support from Facebook and the RBC Foundation.


Canada CIFAR AI Chairs Program

The Canada CIFAR AI Chairs Program is the cornerstone program of the CIFAR Pan-Canadian AI Strategy. A total of $86.5 million over five years has been earmarked for this program to attract and retain world-leading AI researchers in Canada. The Canada CIFAR AI Chairs that have been announced to-date are conducting research in a range of fields, from machine learning for health, autonomous vehicles, artificial neural networks, climate change and more.

National Program of Activities

A key component of the CIFAR Pan-Canadian AI Strategy is the National Program of Activities. These are a series of workshops, training programs, conferences and other events to bring AI researchers from across Canada together to foster collaboration and partnerships, increase the number of highly-skilled graduates in AI and advance AI research and innovation.

    • CIFAR AI4Good National Training Program: CIFAR is working with researchers and organizations across the country to support training programs for the next generation of AI researchers at both the graduate and undergraduate levels, with a special focus on programs that advance equity, diversity and inclusion in AI and deliver positive social impact.

    • AI4Health Task Force: Led by CIFAR, the AI4Health Task Force outlines a strategy that enables Canada to take advantage of world-class AI for health research. Report to be published early summer 2020.

    • CIFAR AI Catalyst Grants Program: In February 2020, CIFAR issued a targeted call for interdisciplinary research collaborations to spark innovative, high-risk/high-reward ideas and projects with Canada CIFAR AI Chairs.

    • AICan Symposium: The third annual meeting of the Pan-Canadian AI Strategy will be held in January 2021 and will feature exciting new developments in machine learning research by some of the world’s leading AI researchers and profile the National Program of Activities.

CIFAR AI & Society Program

CIFAR AI & Society Program brings together experts from across sectors, from industry and government, to law and ethics, to engage in in-depth discussions on some of the most important and timely challenges that AI is posing to society. These include implications it has on the practice of medicine, democracy, climate change, children and other vulnerable groups, and many more.

AI Policy Initiatives

CIFAR is collaborating on a number of national and international AI policy initiatives toward the responsible, ethical and economic stewardship of AI.

Pan-Canadian AI Strategy Timeline

1983: CIFAR launches one of the world’s first AI research programs: AI, Robotics & Society

2004: CIFAR launches the Neural Computation & Adaptive Perception (NCAP) program, led by Geoffrey Hinton, including members Yoshua Bengio and Yann LeCun

2015: NCAP renamed Learning in Machines & Brains

2017: Canada appoints CIFAR to develop and lead the Pan-Canadian AI Strategy, the world’s first national AI Strategy

2017: Canada’s national AI Institutes are established (Amii, Mila, Vector Institute)

2017: CIFAR launches the AI & Society program

2018: CIFAR announces the first 29 Canada CIFAR AI Chairs at AICan 2018.

2019: CIFAR Fellows Yoshua Bengio, Geoffrey Hinton and Yann LeCun are named the winners of the prestigious A.M. Turing Award for their development of deep learning

2019: CIFAR expands the Canada CIFAR AI Chairs Program to 46

2019: CIFAR expands the Canada CIFAR AI Chairs Program to 80


National  Program Committee

Doina Precup

Prof. Doina Precup (Chair) 
Assoc. Professor of Computer Science, McGill University; CIFAR Fellow; Mila faculty member


Prof. Michael Bowling
Professor of Computing Science, University of Alberta; Amii faculty member


Dr. Garth Gibson
President and CEO, Vector Institute


Prof. Randy Goebel
Professor of Computing Science, University of Alberta; Amii faculty member

Prof. Randy Goebel

Dr. Roger Grosse
Asst. Professor of Computer Science, University of Toronto; Vector Institute faculty member


Prof. Greg Mori
Professor of Computing Science, Simon Fraser University; Research Director, Borealis AI Vancouver


Valerie Pisano
President and CEO, Mila


Dr. Elissa Strome
AVP Research and Executive Director, Pan-Canadian AI Strategy, CIFAR

Elissa Strome

Prof. Peter Van Beek
Professor of Computer Science, Co-Director Waterloo AI Institute, University of Waterloo

International Scientific Advisory Committee

Shirley Tilghman
Prof. Shirley Tilghman OC, FRS
Chair; President Emerita,
Princeton University;
United States
Dr. Jennifer Chayes
Technical Fellow & Managing Director; Microsoft Research New England,
New York City and Montreal

Yann LaCun
Prof. Yann LeCun
Co-Director, CIFAR Program in Learning in Machines & Brains; Chief AI Scientist, Facebook Professor, New York University, United States
Antoine Petit
Prof. Antoine Petit
Member, CIFAR Research Council; President, National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS),  France
Sebastian Seung
Prof. Sebastian Seung
Advisor, CIFAR Program in Learning in Machines & Brains; Evnin Professor in Neuroscience,
Professor of Computer Science, Princeton Neuroscience Institute; Chief Research Scientist, Samsung
United States

Max Welling
Prof. Max Welling
CIFAR Fellow, Program in Learning in Machines & Brains; Vice-President Technologies, Qualcomm;
Research Chair in Machine Learning University of Amsterdam, Netherlands