Canadian Manufacturing

46 per cent of Canadian work activities at risk from automation: report

A new report by the Brookfield Institute tracks the risk of Canadian jobs being lost to automation across communities and industries; small communities reliant on mining and manufacturing are most vulnerable


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TORONTO—Canada’s complex and varied economy means that the effects of automation will not be evenly distributed across the country.

This is according to a new report from the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship (BII+E), a Ryerson University think-tank.

The report states that smaller regional economies specializing in mining or manufacturing are most vulnerable to automation, economies primarily concentrated in southwestern Ontario, southern Quebec and the Prairies.

Brookfield cites Woodstock, Ont., Tillsonburg, Ont., and Quesnel, B.C., as examples of high risk areas.

The report also says small regional economies with a large hospital, post-secondary institution or public sector presence are less vulnerable.

Lower risk areas include Petawawa, Ont., Ottawa-Gatineau, Ont., and Fredericton, N.B.

Big cities with diversified economies and large pools of highly skilled labour may also be cushioned from the effects of automation; however, for most, a sizable portion of their labour force is still highly susceptible.

46 per cent of work activities in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver have the potential for automation.

“We expect that the impact of automation will vary considerably across Canada’s towns and cities. By better understanding the geographic distribution of this trend, we believe the country will be much better prepared to weather the risks and reap the potential benefits of automation,” said Sean Mullin, executive director of BII+E.

Brookfield says the industries with the highest proportion of automatable work activities include:

  • Accommodation and food services
  • Manufacturing
  • Transportation and warehousing
  • Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting
  • Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction

About 62 percent of work activities could be automated within these industries.

46 per cent of work activities across all Canadian industries are currently at risk, when applied to 2011 Canadian census data. While this statistic only represents partial work activities in some cases, as opposed to entire jobs, it still represents the equivalent of roughly 7.7 million jobs across the country.

An interactive map of this data broken down by community can be found here.


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