The AI Effect: Exploring the New Frontiers of Employment in Toronto

6 March 2024

In Toronto, a city at the forefront of technological innovation, the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation is set to redefine the workforce landscape. This evolution, while fostering growth and efficiency across sectors such as technology, finance, healthcare, and manufacturing, also presents significant challenges, particularly for lower-skilled workers, equity-deserving groups, and traditional occupations vulnerable to automation. The 2023 Toronto Employment Survey indicates a robust increase in employment, yet it’s the sectors with a high concentration of automatable tasks—like manufacturing, which comprised 19.6% of all jobs in Areas of Employment (AOE)—that face the most profound transformations.

AI generated image of a female employee looking at computer system display. (Adobe Stock)
AI generated image of a female employee looking at computer system display. (Adobe Stock)

Automation’s impact on Toronto’s labor market is nuanced. Industries such as agriculture, manufacturing, and transportation, which traditionally employ a significant number of lower-skilled workers, are at a higher risk of job displacement due to AI and robotics. However, technology is also a net job creator, promising new roles that currently do not exist and altering existing jobs to work alongside AI, enhancing human labor rather than replacing it. For instance, AI algorithms assisting doctors with diagnostic scans exemplify how automation can augment professional roles, shifting tasks within occupations rather than eliminating the roles entirely. This shift towards partial automation and the creation of new jobs underscores the dynamic nature of Toronto’s labor market, where the demand for tech and healthcare professionals is on the rise, reflecting the city’s strong emphasis on tech innovation and healthcare services.

In the evolving landscape of Toronto’s labor market, the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) presents a complex scenario for lower-skilled or income workers and persons with disabilities, marked by both promising opportunities and significant challenges. AI’s potential to improve workplace accessibility, offer personalized training, and create tech-centric roles in AI development and data analysis is tempered by the risks of job displacement and a widening skills gap, particularly in sectors reliant on routine tasks such as retail and customer service. This dual-edged sword not only underscores the need for targeted interventions like the Canada Job Grant and Ontario’s “Upskill” program to facilitate retraining and upskilling but also highlights the importance of AI-driven job matching platforms and assistive technologies in enhancing inclusion. However, the risk of exacerbating existing inequalities through biased algorithms or inaccessible technology, coupled with systemic barriers to employment faced by equity-deserving groups, calls for a concerted effort towards inclusive design and policy innovation. The promise of AI to reduce hiring biases offers a glimpse into a more equitable future yet ensuring equitable access to training and education to fully leverage these advancements remains a critical challenge.

As Toronto navigates this technological transition, a multifaceted approach is essential to harness AI’s potential while mitigating its risks. This includes fostering public-private partnerships to develop accessible AI technologies, tailoring training programs to the needs of Toronto’s diverse workforce and ensuring that the benefits of AI advancements are equitably distributed. By doing so, Toronto can create a labor market that not only thrives in the age of AI but also remains inclusive, resilient, and reflective of its diverse population, ensuring that all residents have the opportunity to participate in and benefit from the city’s economic growth.


  • TWIG

    Toronto Workforce Innovation Group is a non-profit and independent research organization devoted to finding and promoting solutions to employment-related problems in the Toronto Region.

The AI Effect: Exploring the New Frontiers of Employment in Toronto
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