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Automation Across the Nation: Understanding the potential impacts of technological trends across Canada

What rapidly advancing technology means for Canadian regional economies, especially those identified as most susceptible to automation, such as Woodstock, Ont., and Quesnel, B.C.
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Automation Across the Nation
Creig Lamb
Senior Policy Analyst
Matthew Lo
Policy Advisor

About this Report

Automation Across the Nation: Understanding the potential impacts of technological trends across Canada is a new data insights report by the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship.

Technological trends come with benefits and risks. On the one hand, they should be viewed as a major driver of economic growth and prosperity. On the other, technology poses potential risks – notably for workers responsible for job tasks that can now be automated.

As a large, economically diverse country, Canada will experience an uneven distribution of the risks of technological trends. This data insights report begins to identify how susceptible Canada’s different regional economies to automation. It aims to inform the design of policies and programs that seek to mitigate the potential negative impacts associated with rapidly advancing technology. This report is part of a series focused on the tension between innovation driven growth and inclusive economic growth, with a particular focus on the future of work and skills.

Read this report to help you:
  • Understand the distribution of risks associated with automation across all of Canada’s Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs) and Census Agglomerations (CAs)
  • Identify the industries in Canada most and least vulnerable to automation
  • Identify the CMAs and CAs most and least vulnerable to automation across Canada and within specific geographic regions
  • Identify common industrial characteristics of the CMAs and CAs most and least vulnerable to automation across Canada and within specific geographic regions

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Key findings from the report:

  • Small regional economies specializing in manufacturing or mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction are most susceptible to automation, including Woodstock, Ont., Tillsonburg, Ont. and Quesnel, B.C.
  • Areas less susceptible to automation include cities and towns with a large hospital, post-secondary institution or public sector presence, for example, Petawawa, Ont., Ottawa-Gatineau, Ont., and Fredericton, N.B..
  • Industries with the highest proportion of automatable work activities include: accommodation and food services; manufacturing; transportation and warehousing; agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting; and mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction. About 62 percent of work activities could be automated within these industries.
  • Applied to 2011 Canadian census data, about 46 percent of work activities have the potential to be automated, across all Canadian industries. This does not mean that 46 percent of jobs could be automated. Most jobs comprise a mix of work activities, only some of which are automatable; however, the proportion of work activities that could be automated is significant – equivalent to about 7.7 million jobs across the country.
  • Even Canada’s largest cities are not immune to the effects of automation; in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver, about 46 percent of work activities have the potential for automation.
  • The diversity of a local economy, which varies across Canadian cities and towns, can influence the potential impacts of automation. Highly specialized cities and towns in which a high proportion of work activities have the potential to be automated may be the most vulnerable.

Data Visualization

Use our data visualization below to find out how susceptible your city or town is to the effects of automation.

Deep Dive

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Jun 8, 2017

Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship releases new data insights report identifying regional economies most susceptible to automation, such as Woodstock, Ont., and Quesnel, B.C.
Automation across the nation: What rapidly advancing technology means for Canadian regional economies
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