Canada working on policies to deal with increased automation in the workforce

TORONTO, Canada – According to a report prepared for top officials at Employment and Social Development Canada, millions of jobs are seen to be threatened due to the rise of machines. 

The report is said to have pointed out statistics, leading to a warning to Federal officials that machines are going to replace more jobs in the workforce in the coming years.

Officials were urged to rethink how government helps the unemployed.

The documents in the report however, do not hint at how federal policy will have to adapt to increased automation in the workforce.

It reportedly notes that predicting the future is a risky proposition.

However, experts were quick in pointing out that the documents also fail to point out that the rise of the machines is an immediate concern that the government must quickly address.

According to the methodology used, the Canadian economy stands to lose between 1.5 million and 7.5 million jobs in the coming years due to automation.

Further, jobs at the most risk are those that require repetitive activities like an automotive assembly line.

But some high-skilled workers, including financial advisers are already being replaced by software programs. 

Further, the documents noted that journalists could see themselves increasingly replaced by robots.

According to Sunil Johal, policy director with the Mowat Centre at the University of Toronto, “Many of the trends that may concern us about technology and automation in terms of what their impacts could be on workers are already happening and that’s, I think, the missing piece here. People are projecting this into, well, in 10 years we may be in a difficult situation. The reality is many Canadians are already ill-served by government policies when it comes to skills training, when it comes to employment insurance, when it comes to the broader suite of public services to support Canadians.”

On a more optimistic tone, the document clarified that new jobs would be created, in a bid to keep the economy working – claiming, as technology kills jobs, it also creates new ones. 

According to the documents, the main issue is that no one knows if enough jobs will be created to replace those lost, nor if they will all be as well-paid.

A part of the presentation released to The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act read, “Predicting the future brings significant risk. We cannot know what future jobs will be created or whether enough of them will be created to offset displaced workers or whether automation will offset the pressures arising from slowing labour force growth.”

The budget is now expected to put a figure on the actual federal contribution to training, negotiations with provinces and territories on the main funding vehicle for the cash — the labour market development agreements.

Meanwhile, Labour Minister Patty Hajdu was quoted as saying that the government is looking to find a way to help sectors who are short of workers, and guide people into emerging fields.

In the interview, Hajdu said, “Successful economies and countries are ones that can be adaptive and that’s why skills development is so important. I’m excited about being able to do that work and help people gain those skills for the shortages that we have in specific sectors and to help support that innovation agenda that really is about fostering creativity and being thoughtful and deliberate about what skills we’re training people for.”

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