Policy Horizons Canada releases The Future of Work and The Next Digital Economy reports

News release

Reports explore how technology could disrupt work, employment, and the economy

June 20, 2019                           Ottawa, Ontario                                   Policy Horizons Canada

The question of how artificial intelligence and automation will impact jobs is crucial, but is only one aspect of the Next Digital Economy. The effects of a broad suite of technologies maturing and combining might redefine the economy and work. Following in-depth foresight research, Policy Horizons Canada released two new reports, The Future of Work and The Next Digital Economy.

The reports provide insight into what could be facing Canadians in the future, to help government ensure that policy and programs are robust and resilient in the face of disruptive change.

The Next Digital Economy

The Next Digital Economy report explores how the economy could play out and what it could mean for policy. It studies how technology could redefine the organizing principles of the economy, revolutionizing value chains, and changing the who, what, where, when, and how of production and consumption.

The Next Digital Economy brings with it several challenges and opportunities that affect a number of policy areas, including:

  • Economic developing strategies;
  • Trade policy;
  • Social supports;
  • Taxation, and more.

The Future of Work

Employment and how we experience work could face significant disruption, as technologies such as blockchain and AI mature and combine, profoundly changing the amount and nature of work. Change can be both positive and negative; but prosperity can only come from being prepared for what lies ahead.

The Future of Work report identifies five key game changers that could disrupt work and employment for Canadians:

  1. Work moves from being long-term and time-based to temporary and task-based;
  2. AI and automation could erode employment long before technologies replace entire jobs;
  3. AI ends the scarcity of knowledge workers, potentially allowing jobless growth in knowledge industries;
  4. Combined digital technologies could reduce the role and need for human intermediaries; and
  5. Where people work and earn may not be where they live and spend.

These reports do not aim to predict the future or prescribe policies. They are meant to explore a range of plausible futures and help government better anticipate the challenges and identify the opportunities that could emerge.


“How people and firms fare in the transition towards the Next Digital Economy will depend on how quickly these changes take place. No one can know or control the speed and depth of change. However, by thinking through plausible futures and the type of stresses on the existing suite of public policies, government has an opportunity to support Canadians through this transition.”
– Kristel Van der Elst, Executive Head, Policy Horizons Canada

Quick facts

  • Policy Horizons Canada is a federal government organization that conducts foresight. Its mandate is to help the Government of Canada develop future-oriented policy and programs that are more robust and resilient in the face of disruptive change on the horizon.

  • Over the last two years, Policy Horizons Canada focused on the future of work and the Next Digital Economy. These reports stem from in-depth foresight studies involving research, interviews, and workshops. Policy Horizons Canada collaborated with several departments and agencies across the public service of Canada, as well as non-governmental experts and academics.

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