About 46 per cent of the work done in Canada is at risk of being taken by machines, according to a report that seeks to identify the industries and places across the country that are most vulnerable to automation.
The report from the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship doesn’t argue that automation is a bad thing.
“In the long run, technology has often helped to produce more jobs than it destroyed,” researchers Creig Lamb and Matthew Lo wrote.
Jobs in food services and accommodation are at greatest risk of automation in Canada, with 69 per cent of the work done in those fields at risk of being replaced by machines.
But in the short run, automation can displace large numbers of employees whose skills have become redundant.
“Current predictions suggest that these technologies are likely to disproportionately affect lower paying, lower skilled jobs,” the report said.
Automation could replace the equivalent of 7.7 million jobs in Canada, the report estimates.
But that doesn’t mean 7.7 million people will simply lose their jobs. Automation usually replaces only certain parts of a job — which still reduces the overall demand for people doing that job.
“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.,” the researchers found.
In those places, about 50 per cent of all work is at risk.