Automation and AI could result in Canada losing millions of jobs

Published: March 22, 2017

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones



Technology and automation will have a profound impact on Canadian jobs and millions could be without work. Dave Ticoll of the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs says growing tech advancements could have an impact on between 30 and 40 per cent of the Canadian workforce.

Innovation in technology is moving at a rapid pace. Automation in numerous fields is starting to be realized, driven by the increasing power of artificial intelligence. Robotics and AI will begin to replace humans and perform tasks without human interaction. While this could reduce the workforce, it is more worrying that some jobs may become obsolete.

A recent report to the federal government suggests up to 40 per cent of jobs could disappear from Canada in the next 10 years. Retail and insurance are two sectors that will be heavily impacted by automation.

This could in turn lead to wage gaps and even social gaps where people with STEM-based jobs have work and those without do not. Indeed, the important of science, technology, engineering and mathematics education may be a focus in the coming decades.

Of course, it is not new information that the labour force could be under threat. Most new technological advancements bring predictions of a reduced workforce. However, the adoption of automation and AI could be the biggest leap so far.

“Traditional jobs automation research focuses on one question: can a computer do this work?” Ticoll says. “But to forecast labour obsolescence we must assess both technology and business innovation as they play out in a specific sector.”

Ticoll points to the automobile industry. He said automation has already replaced many human jobs. What has already happened in the auto industry is set to happen across numerous fields.