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Ottawa will invest $50 million to help workers affected by AI

Photo: Graham Hugues The Canadian Press Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on April 7 measures totaling $2.4 billion in artificial intelligence (AI), including $50 million to support workers who could be affected by the growth of this technology.

Anja Karadeglija – The Canadian Press in Ottawa

Published yesterday at 12:00 a.m. Updated at 2:55 p.m.

  • Canada

The federal government will invest $50 million over four years starting in 2025-2026 to support workers who could be affected by the rise of artificial intelligence (AI).

This amount was included in the federal budget presented on Tuesday. The government plans to invest more than two billion dollars to encourage the development of artificial intelligence in Canada.

Workers in sectors that could be affected by the rise of AI would receive training to acquire new skills.

The government says this support will be provided through the Sectoral Workforce Solutions Program, “which will provide training for new skills to workers in sectors and sectors affected communities.”

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Several sectors affected

A briefing note last June warned Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland of the repercussions of AI in all sectors of the economy. The author predicted that 40% of all schedules could be affected.

“The banking, insurance and natural resources sectors have the highest potential for automation compared to other sectors”, we can read in this note obtained by the Law of Access to the information. “This can have significant consequences for jobs and the skills required. »

The Ministry of Finance has not indicated which sectors could be covered by the program.

“Creative sectors were used as an example. Their mention was not intended to exclude other affected sectors,” said spokesperson Caroline Thériault.

Joel Blit, an associate professor of economics at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, says AI will lead to a significant transformation of the economy and society.

Jobs will be lost, others will be created, “but the transition period could be chaotic,” he warns.

He explains that generative AI can come up with ideas, review them, analyze data and even write computer programs for music, images and video.

Professor Blit adds that employees in marketing, health care, accounting and law could be most affected.

“It is difficult to predict in the long term who will be affected. What will happen when an industry or process is reinvented by this new technology ? »

Hugh Pouliot, a spokesperson for the Canadian Union of Public Employees, says that AI is an issue for all economic sectors. “But office and customer service jobs are the most vulnerable,” he says.

Positive repercussions

But not all observers are pessimistic. Viet Vu, head of economic research at a think tank at the University of Metropolitan Toronto, The Dais, says the impact of artificial intelligence on employment will not necessarily be negative.

“This will only be the case if we are irresponsible,” he said, noting that creators have been using new digital tools for several years.

Mr. Vu points out that only 4% of Canadian companies use some form of artificial intelligence. “We are not yet at the point where these models and technologies [will have an impact].”

According to him, training should focus on acquiring two types of skills: data analysis and computational thinking, or how to understand a computer makes a decision.

Every AI system requires data. “If we understand how the data is organized, how it’s used, that will be really useful in the long term. Even basic data analysis skills will be,” says Mr. Vu.

However, it will take over $50 million to address this issue, given the scale of changes AI will bring about.

Valerio De Stefano, of the Canada Research Chair in Innovation, Law and Society at York University, agrees that more resources will be needed to help workers.

“The number of positions will be reduced to such a level that the acquisition of new skills may be insufficient. The government needs to look at new forms of support, like guaranteed basic income,” he suggests.

The government should also consider asking AI companies “to contribute directly to pay for any social measures aimed at caring for people who lose their jobs because of the technology.” It should also be required of employers “who reduce their payroll and increase their profits thanks to AI,” argues Mr. De Stefano.

“Otherwise, society will stop subsidizing tech companies and others if they increase their profits without everyone being able to benefit. »

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116