Better, Faster, Stronger: Maximizing the benefits of automation for Ontario’s firms and people

A number of high-level recommendations designed to help policymakers, business leaders, educators, unions, and workers address the implications of automation for Ontario’s labour
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Better, Faster, Stronger: Maximizing the benefits of automation for Ontario’s firms and people
Creig Lamb
Alumni, Senior Policy Analyst
Daniel Munro
Research Advisor
Viet Vu
Manager, Economic Research

About this Report

Better, Faster, Stronger: Maximizing the benefits of automation for Ontario’s firms and people explores the risks and rewards automation poses for industries and workers in Ontario by examining trends in the economy as a whole, gathering local insights from across the province, and conducting an in-depth analysis of two key sectors in Ontario that are broadly representative of these trends — manufacturing and finance and insurance.

This report outlines the dual challenge technology advances present to Ontario’s economy — to simultaneously improve lagging technological adoption, while mitigating its negative impacts for some workers — and proposes a bold strategy to meet this challenge head on.

Read this report to help you:
  • Understand how automation and labour interact
  • Understand the challenges businesses in Ontario face in adopting technology
  • Understand how technology has and may impact Ontario’s workers in the future
  • Learn what occupations are most vulnerable to automation
  • Understand how technology shifts ahead may reshape skills demand, education and the economy
  • Learn about some key actions that could be taken – by governments, employers, unions, workers, post-secondary institutions and training organizations – to help Ontario rise to the dual challenge automation presents

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Key findings from the report:

  • With respect to technological adoption, the success of businesses and workers is intertwined. If Ontario businesses lag behind their competition in adopting and utilizing technology, this may pose just as large a risk for workers as for businesses.
  • However, as the pace of technological adoption increases, the impacts of automation on Ontario’s labour market could become more significant. Automation has the potential to substantially disrupt the labour market in the next 20-30 years, especially in southwestern Ontario towns and cities that specialize in manufacturing.
  • Impacts on workers ultimately depend on businesses’ decisions to automate, and their subsequent decisions to retrain, redeploy or lay off workers. The vulnerability, resilience and needs of workers affected by disruption will be shaped by a number of factors, including demographic characteristics, the concentration of job disruption in a particular region or sector, and the opportunities available to transition to other jobs.
  • In designing supports for workers or new labour market entrants who may be affected by automation, it will be important to consider the retraining pathways open to them. These may include upskilling within existing jobs, longer retraining pathways to completely different jobs in high growth areas of the economy, or shorter pathways to jobs with similar skills, experience and credential requirements (“similar occupations”) that require minimal additional training.

Expert Advisory Panel

Robert Carlyle
Senior Director, Strategic Workforce Management - RBC
Rebecca Finlay
Vice President, Engagement + Public Policy - Canadian Institute for Advanced Research
Ryan Gariepy
Co-Founder + CTO - Clearpath Robotics
Avi Goldfarb
Professor, Rotman School of Management - University of Toronto
David Green
Professor + Director, Vancouver School of Economics - University of British Columbia
Sunil Johal
IIE Work Stream Fellow
Krista Jones
Managing Director of Work + Learning - MaRS
Bob Magee
Chairman - The Woodbridge Group
Colin McKay
Head of Public Policy + Government Relations - Google Canada
Bakhtiar Moazzami
Professor/Researcher, Department of Economics - Lakehead University
Jayson Myers
Former President - Canadian Manufacturers + Exporters
Graham Taylor
Co-Founder, + Associate Professor - University of Guelph
Armine Yalnizyan
IIE Work Stream Fellow
Richard Zuroff
Director of Delivery and Customer Success - Element AI

Deep Dive

8 Results


May 14, 2020

The past has shown us that automation often accelerates during economic downturns. While Canada has previously lagged in tech adoption, now may be the time to catch up.
Automation, Accelerated: Will technology adoption amidst the pandemic leave Canada further behind?

Aug 6, 2019

To better understand the skills, knowledge, and abilities that make up the 500 national occupations in Canada, we created a crosswalk to apply US data in a Canadian context
Illustration by Jesseca Buizon of grey hands typing on green computer.

Aug 9, 2018

In conversation with Jay Myers, CEO of Next Generation Manufacturing Canada, the industry-led, not-for-profit organization established to lead Canada's Advanced Manufacturing Supercluster
Illustration of person in hot air balloon with someone hanging off it.

May 3, 2018

Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship releases comprehensive report assessing the impact of emerging automation technologies on labour
Ontario’s dual challenge: Maximizing the benefits of automation for business and people
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