Why do 57% of Canadian employees have mixed feelings about AI?

Discover how Canadian workers balance optimism with apprehension toward AI's impact on jobs and communities

Why do 57% of Canadian employees have mixed feelings about AI?

Canadian employees exhibit a mix of caution and optimism toward the growing integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into various industries.  

According to a survey commissioned by TECHNATION, Canada's largest technology industry association, 57 percent of Canadian employees view AI optimistically, believing in its benefits, while 61 percent perceive it as a potential threat.  

A notable 60 percent of respondents advocate for Canada to invest in AI, highlighting the dual goals of establishing the country as a technology leader and enhancing workers' AI training and upskilling. 

The survey also sheds light on concerns about brain drain, with nearly two-thirds of Canadians fearing the loss of talent to other countries if investments in AI falter. Furthermore, 42 percent of respondents link the nation's standard of living directly to AI investment levels.  

Despite the perceived benefits of AI, such as improved fraud detection and government services, apprehensions about transparency, national security risks, and the spread of misinformation through deep fakes in elections remain prevalent.   

Angela Mondou, president, and CEO of TECHNATION, emphasized the gap in AI adoption within Canada compared to global trends. She pointed out the essential steps needed to enhance national AI readiness and foster a deeper understanding and trust in AI among Canadians.  

The call for responsible regulation and increased investment in AI comes across strongly, with a focus on preparing workers for future challenges.   

The survey, which gauged the perceptions of 2,000 Canadian workers, reveals a significant gap in AI awareness, with 43 percent admitting limited knowledge on the subject.  

Despite this, the potential for AI to increase productivity by handling repetitive tasks and allowing workers to concentrate on more significant work is recognized by the majority.   

However, there is a palpable discomfort with using AI for decision-making among 55 percent of workers, reflecting a broader distrust in AI's role in replacing human judgment.  

Concerns about AI to increase productivity are widespread, with 87 percent of respondents wary of the impact on employment, despite a smaller segment believing in AI's job creation potential.   

The survey's findings also emphasize the necessity of regulating AI applications, particularly in finance, banking, and public uses of technologies like facial recognition and deep fake videos.  

Mary Ann Yule, TECHNATION chair and HP Canada president and CEO, underscored the importance of addressing investment gaps in AI for small-medium enterprises (SMEs) and advocated for policy adjustments to spur AI adoption across various sectors.