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Canada’s Tech Adoption is Declining Compared to OECD Peers

Centre for Future Work | Jim Stanford | May 24, 2022

Business investment in RD Canada - Canada's Tech Adoption is Declining Compared to OECD PeersThere is little evidence that robots and other advanced technologies are displacing workers and causing technological unemployment in Canada. To the contrary, Canada’s adoption of new technology has surprisingly slowed down in recent years. That is the conclusion of a major new report on innovation and automation in Canada’s economy, from the Centre for Future Work.

The report, titled Where are the Robots?, reviews nine empirical indicators of Canadian innovation, technology adoption, and robotization. They paint a worrisome picture that Canadian businesses have dramatically reduced their innovation effort since the turn of the century, and are lagging well behind other industrial countries in putting new technology to work in the real economy.

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While there is no evidence that the quantity of jobs in Canada has been undermined by new technology, there are many signs that the composition and quality of work has shifted in negative ways.

“The failure of employers to implement new technologies is causing an over-reliance on low-quality work, holding back our productivity and incomes, and squandering the potential for safer jobs and more leisure time.”

The report makes 6 policy recommendations to improve innovation and technology adoption in Canada, including reforming fiscal incentives, expanding publicly-funded R&D, nurturing industries that use more robots and machinery, and giving workers more say in how technological change is implemented in workplaces.

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Jim Stanford, Economist and Director of the Centre for Future Work:

“Technology will be neither the hero nor the villain in the future of work – it all depends how technology is used, and how the costs and benefits are shared. But the reality is that Canada’s technological performance is flagging, fast. Revitalizing technological innovation and adoption, and ensuring that it enhances jobs not displaces workers, is vital to our future economic and social progress.”

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