June 21, 2024

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The Robots are NOT Coming: Workers harmed by too little technology not too much, says new report


VANCOUVER, BC, April 25, 2022 /CNW/ – There 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 slowed dramatically in recent years. That is the conclusion of a major new report on automation in Canada’s economy, from the Centre for Future Work.

The report, titled Where are the Robots?, by labour economist Jim Stanford, 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 applying new technology in the real economy.

There is no evidence that robots are reducing the quantity of work in Canada’s economy. Instead, weak investment in new ideas and new machinery is undermining the quality of work: with too many jobs being created in low-wage, low-tech, insecure occupations (especially in private services), and underutilizing Canadians’ skills.

Shockingly, the report finds that the average capital-labour ratio in Canada (that is, the amount of machinery and other capital used by the typical worker) has been falling for several years, beginning even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. This undermines productivity, incomes, and exports.

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

Comments attributable to Dr. Jim Stanford, Economist and Director, Centre for Future Work:

“Far from losing sleep over whether robots are going to take our jobs, Canadian workers should be more concerned with the slow pace of technology adoption by their employers.”

“The failure of Canadian businesses to implement new technologies is leading to an expansion of low-quality jobs, holding back our productivity and incomes, and squandering the potential for more leisure time.”

“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 badly.”

“Revitalizing technological innovation and adoption in Canada, and ensuring it enhances the quality of work (rather than displacing workers), is vital to Canada’s future economic and social progress.”

The full report, Where are the Robots? The Surprising Deceleration of Technology in Canadian Workplaces, can be accessed at https://centreforfuturework.ca/. The report was published through the PowerShare project, a partnership of the Centre for Future Work and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives with support from the Atkinson Foundation.

SOURCE Centre for Future Work

Cision View original content: http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/April2022/25/c3006.html


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