Further and Further Away: Canada’s unrealized digital potential

Pay gaps and the continued marginalization of participation in tech work has shown that those who create technologies in Canada do not fully represent those who live and work here.
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Viet Vu
Manager, Economic Research

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About This Report

Technology adoption in the labour market will only continue to intensify. But how businesses and workers use technology—and to what degree—stands to play a central role in our capacity to innovate successfully and grow the Canadian economy across new and legacy industries. 

In previous research covering automation in Ontario, we cautioned against a dual challenge where businesses are hesitant to adopt new technologies known to improve productivity and competitiveness. At the same time, firms that adopt them can significantly disrupt workers’ income and well-being.  

Our latest report, Further and Further Away: Canada’s unrealized digital potential, expands on the dual challenge in two ways: First, we examine patterns of change in tech work and productivity in a 15-year study period. We then identified the degree of participation exclusion and pay inequity across selected identities, including race, sex, education level, and immigration status. 

The report’s results overwhelmingly show that Canada must improve in nurturing, developing, and using our digital talent. Pay gaps and the continued marginalization of participation in tech work have revealed that those who create and use technologies in Canada do not represent those who live and work here. Without their participation, we risk missing out on valuable insights, talent, and experience that can shape future technologies.

Read this report to help you:

  • Identify inequities in tech worker participation and remuneration to ensure that the tech labour force is representative of Canada’s diverse population. 
  • Inform policy decisions and strategies for digital technology adoption, digital workforce development, and digital skill development for policymakers and firms concerned with skills training and development. 
  • Prepare workers for technology adoption to augment and complement valuable human talent. 
  • Understand how digitalization has changed tech work patterns over 15 years. 
  • Prepare workers for success by gaining insight into the types of occupations that have experienced the most and least rates of digitalization.

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Key findings from this report:

  • Jobs requiring the highest level of digital intensity were associated with higher salary increases. From 2001 to 2016, tech workers in jobs requiring the highest level of digital intensity had an average 32 percent increase in salary, while workers who were classified to be in the lowest level of digitally intensive work had a 14 percent salary increase over the same time period.


  • Women are increasingly being excluded from tech work. In 2001, a woman had a 6.29 percent chance of being a tech worker. In 2016, this same probability decreased to 4.91 percent. Conversely, a man had a 20 percent chance of being a tech worker, which remained unchanged between 2001 and 2016. 


  • The gender pay gap persists and is compounded by intersectionality. Our research reveals that men make an average of $3.49 per hour more in pay than women. Further, having a visible minority identity (averaging across all identities) lowers one’s income by $3.89 per hour.


  • There are pay inequities amongst immigrants working in tech that did not exist before. In 2001, there was no observable pay gap between immigrant and non-immigrant tech workers, but from 2001 to 2016, a pay gap emerged, to an average of more than $5.70 per hour (in 2016 dollars). The immigrant pay penalty in tech is larger than the gender pay gap.


  • Jobs associated with routine-based tasks have decreased in digital intensity. Jobs that were predominantly associated with routine work have decreased in digital intensity. Conversely, jobs characterized as requiring a high degree of cognitive skills, coupled with non-routine work, saw a marked increase in digital intensity over the studied time period.

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Further and Further Away: Canada’s unrealized digital potential was funded by Facebook’s research grant – Economic Impact of Digital Technologies. The grant was made as an unconditional gift to the university, and the authors retain full editorial control.

Further and Further Away was also supported by Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Canada (KAS), as well as the Future Skills Centre.

Deep Dive

2 Results


Dec 5, 2022

Systemic labour market inequities in pay and participation continue to persist, and, in some cases, have gotten worse, in that there are new inequities in 2016 that did not exist in 2001.
NEW RESEARCH: Inequities in pay and participation persist for women, PoC, immigrants in Canada’s tech workforce, report findings show

Nov 30, 2022

We developed two updated versions of our original crosswalk, which underpin our latest findings in the Digitalization in Canada project.
The O*NET/NOC Crosswalk, an update.
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