Generative AI is poised to add around eight per cent to Canada’s labour productivity by the end of the decade, according to Microsoft Canada President Chris Barry. 

Last week a report from Microsoft, conducted by Accenture, found that generative AI could add $187 billion to the Canadian economy by 2030. The report said the projection is based on AI generating up to $180 billion in annual productivity gains by 2030 and another $7 billion coming from new AI products and services. 

“You think about…a range of industries, job types, job functions and essentially what the study finds is about 30 per cent of those can, with AI, be either augmented in some way or automated fully,” Barry said in an interview with BNN Bloomberg last week. 

“And assuming a 40 per cent adoption rate of the AI against those things, we do see by the end of the decade that $187 billion economic impact to the economy of Canada, which is super accretive to labour productivity.”

He added that the “bump” in labour productivity by the end of the decade would reach around eight per cent. 

Innovation in Canada 

Earlier this month Boston Consulting Group released a study that found that 57 per cent of Canadian executives indicated they were prioritizing innovation, which was found to be lower than the global average of 83 per cent.

Around 48 per cent attributed the slower pace of innovation to Canada’s risk-averse culture. 

Additionally, 81 per cent of Canadian executives indicated they were experimenting with generative AI for innovation, research and development, or product development. However, only 10 per cent indicated they were applying the technology at scale. 

AI replacement? 

On the changing landscape and fears that AI will replace employees, Barry predicts AI will be largely used to augment workers in the Canadian economy. 

“So people will be more effective, parts of jobs that are more menial or more task-oriented or more basic in a sense, those can become augmented or automated so that workers can focus on higher-order work that has more benefit to their organizations and frankly to their own satisfaction as employees,” he said. 

However, Barry noted that some elements of work may change or be eliminated.