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Better, Faster, Stronger: Maximizing the benefits of automation for Ontario’s firms and people

Recommendations for policymakers, business leaders, educators, unions, and workers in order to address the implications of automation for Ontario’s labour.

This report explores the risks and rewards automation poses for industries and workers in Ontario by examining trends in the economy as a whole, gathering local insights from across the province, and conducting an in-depth analysis of two key sectors in Ontario that are broadly representative of these trends — manufacturing and finance and insurance.

Ontario faces a dual challenge: automation technologies have the potential to improve productivity and competitiveness, and to generate more jobs and prosperity over the long term, yet many Ontario firms have hesitated to invest. At the same time, when firms adopt automation technologies, the disruption to jobs and tasks—and thus to workers’ income and well-being—can be significant. For Ontario firms and workers to thrive in the age of automation, we need to find ways to increase firms’ lagging adoption of automation technologies, while also equipping workers with skills and opportunities to adapt and thrive in a changing labour market.

To fill these gaps in understanding, this report offers a more granular and nuanced understanding of automation in the Ontario context, and of the dual challenge it presents. It closely examines two sectors that are broadly representative of Ontario-wide trends—manufacturing, and finance and insurance—and explores the experiences and perceptions of Ontarians from different communities. The analysis draws on relevant data, existing literature, interviews with over 50 stakeholders from the two sectors, and engagement of over 300 Ontarians through interviews, public consultations and an online survey. This report is also informed by the guidance offered by an Expert Advisory Panel of 14 individuals with academic, technological, and industry expertise.

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