Robots are coming for our jobs, and Justin Trudeau is ready.
The prime minister of Canada answered a question on Quora this week about how governments, especially Canada’s, should prepare for automation.
“We know that the job market is changing, and instead of resisting in vain, we’re focused on funding research and innovation, like in AI and quantum computing, that’ll help lead the change here in Canada,” Trudeau wrote in his response. “And while we do that, we’re preparing Canadians to find good jobs through investments in education and training.”
On the topic of automation, Trudeau had a long, detailed plan for Canada’s economic future. It was slightly different than President Donald Trump’s responses to automation, which have so far been to blame job loss on globalization instead.
In particular, Trudeau stress Canada’s commitment to offering money to citizens in the form of “Employment Insurance” that would allow them to take time to train themselves for new jobs.
The economic challenge posed by the creep of technology into employment — in particular through the development of advanced artificial intelligence and robotics — has become a hot topic in tech and politics. Bill Gates has said there should be a tax on these robots. Elon Musk is for universal basic income.
Read Trudeau’s full response below:
What should governments do to prepare for the technological automation of human jobs?
We know that the job market is changing, and instead of resisting in vain, we’re focused on funding research and innovation, like in AI and quantum computing, that’ll help lead the change here in Canada. And while we do that, we’re preparing Canadians to find good jobs through investments in education and training.
In Budget 2017, the Government of Canada brought in our Innovation and Skills Plan, which focuses on people and addresses the changing nature of the economy to ensure it works for all Canadians. The plan will build Canada as a world-leading innovation economy to create jobs and grow the middle class.
To help more unemployed Canadians get the training they need to get a good, well-paying job, our Government proposes to make better use of existing flexibilities within the Employment Insurance program that allow claimants to pursue self-funded training and maintain their EI status. For unemployed workers receiving EI, this will mean that they can return to school to get the training they need to find a new job—without fear of losing the EI benefits they need to support themselves and their families. This will provide greater security to Canadian families at a time when they need help most.
Budget 2017 proposes to provide $132.4 million over four years, beginning next year, and $37.9 million per year thereafter, to allow unemployed Canadians to pursue self-funded training while receiving Employment Insurance benefits.
If you’re looking to go back to school, boost your skills or get a new certification, we’re expanding access to grants and access to interest-free student loans for adults.
To make post-secondary education more affordable for adult learners with dependent children, our Government also intends to expand eligibility for Canada Student Grants for students who want to go back part-time while they work and students with dependent children, starting in the 2018–19 academic year.
And we’re going to invest in 13000 work-integrated learning placements for students to help young Canadians transition from school to work.