Generative AI Can Boost Canada’s Economy

By: CBoC Team

Ottawa, February 20, 2024 — If deployed correctly, generative artificial intelligence (AI), could help reverse a decades-long decline in productivity and add almost 2 per cent to Canada’s GDP, according to new research from The Conference Board of Canada. The research, done in partnership with MaRS Discovery District, also contains insights from a survey of 221 Canadian start-ups to determine how extensively these ventures are using generative AI, and what further adoption they anticipate.

“Canada is a leader in the discovery and creation of artificial intelligence, but we lag in adopting the technology at the organizational level,” stated Alain Francq, Director, Innovation and Technology at The Conference Board of Canada. “To take advantage of generative AI’s potential, Canadian businesses need to break out of their historic pattern of under-investing in research and development and adopting emerging technologies in an effort to rectify the country’s productivity gap. The Pan-Canadian AI Strategy is a good start with its focus on commercialization, standards, and research.” 

Developing AI talent and preparing the future workforce must be a priority if Canada wants to capitalize on its early lead in AI. The report also recommends the federal government focus additional resources on compute power and devise a national strategy to support the development of supercomputing and data infrastructure. Additionally, organizations and the government should work collaboratively to establish guidelines that foster smart regulation and safe adoption.

“Canada is an undisputed leader in AI research and startup creation,” said Krista Jones, Interim CEO and Chief Delivery Officer at MaRS Discovery District. “Our AI ventures have technologies with the potential to be impactful on the global stage and transformative for the Canadian economy, but only if we can achieve adoption from businesses at scale.”

Key findings of the survey include:

  • 46 per cent of the organizations surveyed were already using generative AI, and 38 per cent said they were exploring it
  • More than 90 per cent of survey respondents said that they weren’t sure about AI rules under current Canadian regulations
  • 63 per cent of respondents noted implementing AI would not reduce their headcount, while another 30 per cent said they weren’t sure, and a few outliers predicted it would decrease the size of their workforce
  • More than half of the respondents who are using or exploring generative AI reported that a lack of technical expertise was holding them back from integrating it into their businesses. Yet only 29 per cent of those firms said that finding talent was a roadblock
  • Respondents who predicted no change to staffing numbers said that generative AI would make employees more productive when fulfilling their existing responsibilities and therefore grant them more time to perform new tasks

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