A new study shows that automation could dissolve half of Canada’s workforce, especially those jobs in manufacturing and natural resources.
The Brookfield Institute, a Toronto-based think tank, says manufacturing towns and cities near the U.S. border have particularly precarious work profiles, such as Ingersoll, Leamington, and Brantford in Ontario, Drummondville and Granby in Quebec, and Williams Lake, B.C., among many others.
Areas of employment like food services, warehousing, accommodation, and agriculture are also susceptible to automation, according to the study, whereas cities and towns with large public administration jobs are more insulated from these effects. This includes places like Petawawa with its large military base and Ottawa-Gatineau where a quarter of the people work for the federal government.
The Ontario government has been keen to address the precarious work and labour challenges on a number of policy fronts, including the creation of:
- a $15 minimum wage
- 100,000 news childcare spaces
- a fair housing plan
- a basic income pilot in three cities, to see if there’s a better way of supporting people
- a pharmacare plan with free medication for those under the age of 25.
- free college and university tuition for more than 200 000 students, tied to income level
“We have to work harder than ever to preserve our fair society,” Premier Kathleen Wynne said recently. She also announced that part-time workers must receive equal pay for equal work, and that people entitled to two weeks vacation will now be given an additional week, as well as an increased number of personal days.
Brantford, an area with high automation potential, is one of the places that has been chosen to participate in the basic income pilot starting next month. (The designated area is Hamilton and Brant County, where Brantford is located.) In addition, Thunder Bay will also participate in the pilot next month, while the town of Lindsay will join this fall.
Wynne says with the rise of automation and precarious work that offers little job security or benefits, she is hoping that a basic income policy can bridge the gap and give people the security and opportunity they need to achieve their potential.
A basic income supports people to begin or continue working, or to further their education. Participants in the pilot will be able to increase their total income by combining a basic income with 50 cents from every dollar they earn at work.