Thanks for the question. I'm glad you read the article. For those who haven't, the basic point I made was that, to survive any deep economic crisis, firms need to lay off their least productive workers, automate what can be automated, and in a pandemic, make everything else remote capable. Once companies figure out their remote work steps, they'll eventually realize that someone remote in Ottawa can be remote in Sri Lanka, and often at much lower cost. The basic point was that you would see a shift from in-person to remote and then from remote to remote overseas.
Obviously, this is a challenge for developed countries, but I think Canada is well positioned to succeed in that environment. We have an extraordinarily educated workforce, and the network effects of being domestic continue to be strong for industries that require certain qualifications from their employees. I think in other sectors it's going to be more difficult. That's why in my comments I try to emphasize that we need to recognize the changes that, at this point, are largely inevitable and focus on our retraining and scaling up so that the workforce can succeed in that environment.
Anything that can be automated, I think it's safe for the committee to assume, will be in a relatively short order and much more quickly because of the pandemic. This is true for two reasons: automation is often cost-effective and robots don't get coronavirus. Employees who perform a function are susceptible to getting the virus and being disrupted whereas labour-replacing automation makes a business more resilient.
The government in recognizing that should focus on identifying jobs that are susceptible to automation and look at the workers in those positions, develop a really granular profile of their skills and aptitudes, and then focus retraining programs on closing the skills gap with adjacent skills. People who do one thing may be really well positioned and need minimal training to be re-skilled for an adjacent skill in a different industry, for example.