“Yesterday’s Gone” report says “May be a shift to global workforces implications for tax policy” – funded by government of Canada’s Future Skills Centre

Yesterday’s Gone, a report funded by the Government of Canada’s Future Skills Centre says that it identifies 8 megatrends with the potential to impact employment in Canada by 2030. The report says that the “goal of this research is to explore these technological, social, economic, environmental and political changes and to inform the design of skills-demand programs and policy responses.

In the report’s introduction, it reads “the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced new uncertainties about our future trajectories… Imaginative and exploratory thinking can help leaders consider the broad range of potential challenges around the corner—and prepare for what is to come.”

Imaginative and exploratory thinking can help leaders consider the broad range of potential challenges around the corner—and prepare for what is to come.

Yesterday’s Gone Report

The 8 Megatrends

The press release put out by the Brookfield Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (BII+E) at Ryerson University says that by “using strategic foresight research and interactive expert workshops, Yesterday’s Gone identifies and explores eight megatrends with the potential to impact employment in Canada by 2030.

Here’s what they are;

  1. Our Lives Online 
  2. Capitalism in Question 
  3. Technology to the Rescue
  4. Climate in Crisis
  5. Reconciliation and Inclusion
  6. Finding Meaning and Well-being
  7. Shifting Power
  8. Evolving Population

The press release says that ” In exploring these changes, businesses, governments, and policymakers will be better equipped to design skills-demand programs and policy responses.”

Exploring the Megatrends 

Trend 1 – Our Lives Online

In this question, the report explores the following question “The pandemic has significantly accelerated the shift towards remote work, at-home entertainment and virtual connections. How might this shape the future of Canada’s labour market in the decade ahead?

Under point number 1of the report titled “Permanent Remote Work,” the report explores two questions – what could this mean in 2030 and what are the potential labour market implications? Here’s some of what the report found concerning each of those questions.

Meso trends grouped within: Permanent Remote Work, Rural Boom, Post-Secondary, Disrupted and Immersive Digital Leisure.

In 2030 this could mean:

  • There may be greater societal polarization between people who are able to work from home (with flexibility) and people who are not.
  • Workers may be able to participate in “collaborative telepresence,” making a full sensory immersion possible, even from different locations.
  • Time zones may become a leading consideration in hiring rather than residence in a specific country or city.

Potential labour market implications:

  • There may be a shift to global workforces, with implications for tax policy.
  • There could be growth in mental health–related services to respond to social isolation and burnout as well as the loss of social capital and interpersonal skills.

The report gives this a signal maturity status of “Emerging.”


Trend 2 – Capitalism in Question

The report gives their thoughts to this question before introducing their findings by saying “Capitalism has never existed without pushback, but calls for change continue to escalate amidst growing climate change concerns and the unequal economic impacts of COVID-19.”

So in this, they make a couple of assertions. The first is that Capitalism has never existed without pushback – and this is true. The second assertion is that “calls for change continue to escalate amidst growing climate change concerns and unequal economic impacts of COVID-19.”

Meso trends grouped within: The “Degrowth Movement,” “Workers First,” “Gender Equality Rollback,” and “Public Services with a Price Tag.” We will discuss 3 of these trends below.

What is Degrowth?

The report says that “the concept of degrowth is focused on ecological goals and defines new metrics of economic progress. This has the potential to create a paradigm shift from a focus on GDP growth to a new system that prioritizes human well-being, environmental sustainability, and economic resilience. 

Degrowth Movement

In 2030 this could mean:

  • Governments may start tracking well-being and equity impact as important metrics.
  • More employee-owned companies may emerge as an alternative to large multinational corporations.

Potential labour market implications:

  • Reduced consumption, and a focus on minimalism, may result in reduced demand for retail and hospitality industries.
  • National sources of wealth could transition from selling resources and physical products to a greater emphasis on intellectual property.

Workers First

In introducing this topic the report says that “formerly fringe policy ideas, such as Universal Basic Income (UBI) and a wealth tax, have been brought into mainstream politics. Fifty senators signed an open letter to the Prime Minister calling for a basic income, and the Federal Liberal Party has discussed both policies publicly as approaches to spur Canada’s economic recovery.”

In 2030 this could mean:

  • Adopted policies like UBI may lead to increased entrepreneurial and educational pursuits.
  • There may be more flexibility for workers in terms of scheduling and location, which could impact where people choose to live.

Potential labour market implications:

  • diminished luxury class could result in reduced demand for high-end goods, services, and real estate.
  • Wealth distribution policies could provoke high-net-worth individuals to leave the country, potentially contributing to a loss of talent.

The report describes the signal maturity as “emerging.”

Public Services with a Price Tag

In Introducing this meso trend the report says the following;

“The economic crisis brought on by COVID-19 has led to record levels of government debt. In Canada, the pre-pandemic combined federal and provincial debt totalled $1.4 trillion. This debt has rapidly grown, with governments borrowing another $300 billion so far in 2020. In the coming years, this could result in cuts to services across Canada potentially leading to a wave of privatization.”

In 2030 this could mean:

  • Lower public sector budgets might generate more innovative public-private partnerships or motivate new approaches to taxation.
  • Access to public services in smaller communities may become constrained.
  • Privatized healthcare and education could lead to more polarized and unequal societies and reduced social mobility.

Potential labour market implications:

  • Pressure on public sector budgets could reduce the number of mid-skilled public service jobs, which might further polarize the skill distribution.
  • Privately owned citizen service offerings could continue to expand, for example in last-mile transport, effectively taking over some government services.

Trend 3 – Technology to the rescue

The preamble to the findings of this trend read “Governments and businesses are looking to tech to solve society’s greatest problems — from COVID-19 to climate change — even as innovations in AI and data collection present new urgent challenges.”

Meso trends grouped within: Automation Nation, Responsible AI, Space Jam, and Humans Augmented. We will discuss the findings of Automation Nation.

Automation Nation – According to the report, “In Canada, industries such as food services, manufacturing, transportation, and mining all have strong potential for being impacted by labour automation technologies, and potentially half of Canadians’ jobs may be affected in the next ten years.”

One “survey of 800 executives found that 50% have accelerated automation in their companies due to COVID-19, suggesting the impact may occur faster than previously thought.

In 2030 this could mean:

  • Automated transportation and logistics services such as delivery drones and self-driving trucks and cars may become more prevalent. 
  • Automated cafes and restaurants could become more popular.
  • Canadians may seek out low-tech experiences to counter or balance their regular engagement with automated technologies.

Potential labour market implications:

  • Companies may need to attract talent capable of onboarding and engaging with new automation technologies. 
  • While some jobs could disappear, other jobs could change and new jobs could emerge that leverage and complement automation-related applications. 
  • Growth in advanced manufacturing and robotics may require more high-skilled talent. 

Trend 4 – Climate in Crisis

The preamble of this trend says “from wildfires to flooding, the effects of the global climate crisis are accelerating fast — as are attempts to kickstart the growth of the green economy.”

Meso trends grouped within: Fires, Floods, + Other Disasters, Green Energy Revolution, and Air + Water Contaminated. We will discuss the “Green Energy Revolution” meso trend from the report.

Green Energy Revolution

The meso trends preamble says begins by saying “producing carbon-free energy has never been cheaper.” The reports preamble continues by stating “In Canada, investment in the green energy sector is expected to increase 46% by 2030, while recent private and public sector support in electric cars and trucks from across the political spectrum, such as automaker Ford’s $1.8 billion investment that was backed by both the Ontario Conservatives and Federal Liberalssuggests significant development in carbon-free transportation over the coming decade.”

In 2030 this could mean:

  • There could be wide-scale implementation of policies like carbon tariffs and tax cuts for green energy companies.
  • We may see increases in individual and corporate energy usage monitoring, time-of-use pricing, use of rolling blackouts, or social pressure to conserve energy.
  • Despite being regarded as a relatively cleaner energy source, natural gas might no longer be socially acceptable to use in commercial and residential development.

So we could see the wide-scale implementation of policies like carbon tariffs and tax cuts for “green energy companies.” We may also see increases in “corporate energy usage monitoring, increases in time-of-use pricing, and even the use of rolling blackouts to “conserve energy.”

Don’t worry, the report also says “or social pressure to conserve energy,” so either rolling blackouts or social pressure it is – got it. The report also says that natural gas might “no longer be socially acceptable to use in commercial and residential development.”

Potential labour market implications:

  • Demand for batteries could soar, both for green energy storage and in electric vehicles (EVs).
  • Prospective employees may choose where to work based on a company’s carbon footprint and adoption of green energy corporate policies (e.g., EV charging stations)
  • The availability of low-cost energy could stimulate significant development in tech, leading to growth in areas like quantum computing.

Trend 5 – Reconciliation and Inclusion + Anti-Racism 

The report’s commentary on this trend says “A wave of anti-Black racism protests in the US last year served to increase calls for change in Canada, where anti-Indigenous and anti-Black racism remain prevalent.”

The preamble tells us more about this trend;

“As 2020 has seen a wave of anti-Black racism protests all over the United States, many Canadians have highlighted the persistent anti-Indigenous and anti-Black racism that is also prevalent in Canada. For example, the 2015 The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) released 94 Calls to Action; however, as of 2019, only 9 have been enacted. But with a significant increase of diversity and inclusion–related job postings, a boom in support for Black-owned businesses, and growing demand for Indigenous authored content, it is possible that Canada is heading towards a more racially just and inclusive future.” All links contained within the quote are from the report itself.

Meso trends grouped within: Road to Reconciliation, Land Back, and Anti-Racism in the Workplace. We will discuss the Anti-Racism in the workplace meso trend.

Anti-Racism in the Workplace

This meso trend begins by saying “Systemic racism—that is, racism embedded as normal practice within society or an organization—exists in Canada, including in the workplace. Recent movements including Black Lives Matter and Defund the Police have put the spotlight on race-based discrimination and led to anti-racism commitments across numerous sectors.

It continues;

Yelp, for example, is now labelling businesses that are accused of racist behaviour, and many organizations are hiring for Directors and Managers of Anti-Racism, including George Brown College and St Joseph’s Health Centre in Toronto.”

In 2030 this could mean:

  • There could be more BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color.) individuals in leadership positions in top companies and organizations.
  • Top talent may seek inclusive places to live, potentially creating a polarized country of inclusive and non-inclusive regions.
  • There might be a greater drive for accommodations and mainstream inclusive design to be normalized.
  • White supremacy may become more vocalized and overt as backlash to anti-racism movements

The point that sticks out to me is the potential for “creating a polarized country of inclusive and non-inclusive regions” and the opinion that “White supremacy may become more vocalized and overt as backlash to anti-racism movements.”

Potential labour market implications:

  • Regions that have a reputation for strong anti-racism policies and programs might be more successful at attracting valuable talent, gaining a significant economic advantage.
  • There may be demand for new positions that deal directly with anti-racism, equity, wellness, and conflict, and investment in training and learning
  • There could be increased demand for consultants and members of senior leadership teams responsible for diversity and inclusion.

Trend 6 – Finding Meaning and Well-being

Just what I want a government-funded report to be studying – Finding meaning and well-being in my life. As Charlie Brown would say “good grief.” This trend has the following commentary;

The pandemic has exacerbated mental health issues in Canada, and highlighted the growing imbalance between our professional and personal lives.” We will discuss Fear of Pathogens…+People, Vaccine Identity and another pandemic.

We will discuss 3 meso trends contained within the report – Vaccine identity, Fear of Pathogens…+People, and Another Pandemic.

Meso trends grouped within: Back to Nature, Crisis Breeds Creativity, Workaholic Extinction, Fear of Pathogens… + People, Vaccine Identity, and Another Pandemic.

Vaccine Identity

About this Meso trend – A November poll found that 25% of Canadians are strongly against the use of a vaccine. This is in “direct conflict with the 60% of Canadians who are in favour of making the COVID-19 vaccination mandatory” the report says.

It continues;

“As such, it is possible that the vaccination status of employees may become an increasingly important form of identification in the future, and may impact access to education, employment, leisure activities, travel, and more.”

In 2030 this could mean:

  • Vaccination data might be more public than in the past, and used by unexpected parties such as insurance brokers and financial planners.
  • Some people may advocate for the right to not be vaccinated as a protected ground in the charter of rights, or the right to keep their vaccination status private.
  • It may become common practice for employers to conduct 24/7 health and wellness surveillance of employees (including temperature, stress, physical activity, etc.), driving new demand for data privacy policies.

Interestingly, the report notes that there will be pushback. What is un-nerving however is the line that says “vaccination data might be more public than in the past, and used by unexpected parties such as insurance brokers and financial planners.”

Potential labour market implications:

  • If the COVID-19 vaccine is successful, there may be an increased interest in pharmaceutical jobs and scientific research related to vaccines among Canadians.
  • Employment may be stronger in regions with high vaccination rates.
  • Employment laws may need to change to clarify employee vaccination rights.
Fear of Pathogens…+People

This meso trend says that “the rampant contagion of the COVID-19 virus has led to the enforcement of strict physical distancing requirements in Canada and around the world, in some cases extending to full lockdown.”

It continues;

“This has led to severe impacts on people’s mental health, with psychotherapists in the UK reporting a 200% increase in individuals displaying agoraphobic tendencies, for example. In fact, a report from ADT states that fear of other people is the most–searched phobia of 2020.”

In 2030 this could mean:

  • People might spend more time with family and friends and less time at work.
  • A decreased need for shared spaces could lead to changes in building codes and urban design.
  • There could be less sicknesses overall due to increased awareness and precautions regarding the spread of viruses.

My take away from these points is that the government expects there to be long-term effects from the pandemic’s social distancing and other measures and in general fear. I believe this is why the reports make mention that there “could be less sicknesses overall due to increased awareness and precautions regarding the spread of viruses.”

Potential labour market implications:

  • There could be increased demand for cleaning services and infection control practices.
  • There may be larger demand for mental health services and professionals.
  • Decreased interactions between workers (even if back in offices) could necessitate innovations in work culture to facilitate knowledge transfer, collaboration and innovation.
Another Pandemic

This report says that “the implications of another pandemic within the next decade—compounding the effects of the current health and economic crisis—would be severe and far reaching.” It goes on to say “however… in Canada, the increase in public health R&D investments and rising societal trust in doctors and science may mitigate the impacts of future pandemic risk.”

In 2030 this could mean:

  • More people may choose to live in alternative housing and family structures if we are forced to spend more time at home.
  • Substance abuse may increase as a consequence of the stress and anxiety caused by another pandemic.
  • There could be permanent systems and designs in place to support social distancing.

What do they mean by “permanent systems and designs” that could be in place to support social distancing? Are there plans to design systems going forward that “help enforce” social distancing?

Potential labour market implications:

  • There may be growth in the field of pandemic response administration and demand for more emergency preparedness positions in companies.
  • It may become a struggle to attract talent to the hospitality, retail, and restaurant industries, possibly necessitating government incentives to participate in them.
  • There could be mass small business closures if owners see no hope for the future.

So now the government may get consider offering incentives to participate in the hospitality, retail, and restaurant industries? Just say the word – Communism. That is an awful idea – but I’d be remised to not acknowledge the fact the at least the government knows there could be “mass small business closures if owners see no hope for the future.”


Trend 7 – Shifting Power

The pandemic has given rise to new international and domestic tensions, while impacting broader dynamics such as globalization, international trade policy, and a rise in youth activism.

The report details China’s move to the dominant super power;

While the United States has been the dominant superpower in recent years, this power has been observed as moving to China.”

Meso trends grouped within: Bigger Business, Richer Execs, World War, America vs. America, Deglobalization, Gen Z Takeover, and Canada Breakup.

We will be discussing Gen Z Takeover and America vs. America.

Gen Z Takeover

This meso trend begins by saying “Generation Z—people born between 1996 and 2010— are entering the workforce, and by 2030 will account for 30% of the global labour market. In Canada, Gen Z currently makes up about 25% of Canada’s population, and accounts for $50 billion in buying power. “

It continues;

“Gen Zers are digitally native and tech savvy, diversepolitically engaged, and socially conscious. The increasing influence of today’s youth, particularly through activism (both via public protests and social media), might push companies to adopt more explicitly social mandates, while pushing governments to reform the status quo.”

The report notes that “many criticize the performative nature of Gen Z activism, particularly on social media, while others question whether this generation is unique in its activism and idealism.”

In 2030 this could mean:

  • There may be a rethinking of some of our most deep-rooted structures and institutions, such as democracy, capitalism, policing, full-time work, land ownership, and post-secondary education.
  • Older, less digitally savvy workers may be pressured to retrain or find new roles.

Pump the brakes, what do you mean “there may be a rethinking of some of our most deep-rooted structures and institutions such as democracy, capitalism, policing, full-time work, land ownership, and post-secondary education?”

How would the government presume to go about “rethinking” democracy, capitalism, policing and land ownership?

Potential labour market implications:

  • There may be consumer demand for all companies to become socially responsible enterprises that fully consider value to communities, workers, environment, and supply chain alongside shareholders
  • The supply of contract or gig workers may increase if benefit structures and protections for non-traditional labour become more robust.
America vs. America

The report says that the “differing of perspectives once led the country to be at war with itself. Given that leading up to the 2020 election Trump had refused to commit to a peaceful transition of power, thousands of Americans were engaged in months-long protest over the police murder of George Floyd, and Americans had purchased a record number of gunsmany companies were taking precautions for post-election civil unrest

The report even details concerns of the rise of the “Canadian dream” as Americans see more potential in Canada than in America.

It goes on to say;

However… while social media platforms have recently played a significant role in disseminating polarizing information, Twitter has recently introduced new features to label or remove misinformation.”

In 2030 this could mean:

  • There may be ongoing and increased social tensions and unrest in the United States.
  • The rise of the “Canadian dream” could emerge as immigrants see more potential in Canada than the United States.
  • Ongoing border closures between Canada and the United States could occur.

Potential labour market implications:

  • There could be increased conflict between Canada and the United States, including over pipelines and natural resources and trade, and potentially more tariffs.
  • Persistent political volatility in the United States could lead to outsourcing of key economic segments to Canada and a “brain gain” for Canada, as top innovators and entrepreneurs opt to live in Canada given greater political stability in comparison to the United States.

So this report funded by the government of Canada is saying in 2030 this could mean ongoing border closures between Canada and the United States. Also, it says that there could be increased conflict between Canada and the United States over natural resources and pipelines.


Trend 8 – Evolving Population

COVID-19 has stalled immigration and forced women from their jobs. Meanwhile, people are retiring later, living longer and having fewer children. What might it mean for Canada’s labour market?

Meso trends grouped within: Working Retirement, Free Childcare, Birth Strikers, and Digital Residents. We will be discussing Digital Residents.

Digital Residents

The report introduces digital residents by saying “In December 2014, Estonia launched a digital residency program designed to attract global entrepreneurs to use their government e-services. With over 50,000 e-residents from 157 countries, Estonia has allowed 6,000 businesses to incorporate, and have a European bank account, conduct business in the European Union, yet be located anywhere in the world.

They go on to note;

However… deglobalization and a push to support local businesses may prevent more countries from adopting this type of program.”

In 2030 this could mean:

  • Everyone may have digital IDs that are used across platforms and services.
  • The concept of citizenship may evolve and no longer be tied to geographic place.
  • Intercultural, diversity, and inclusion training may be mandatory for all workers as it becomes common to be working on multinational teams.
  • The United Nations’ International Labour Organization may become more important to support global workers’ rights.
  • There may be a growth of international accreditation and globally recognized certificate programs to reduce cross-border credentialization challenges.
  • There may be increased employer surveillance technology to monitor global teams.

So this government-funded study sees the possibility of digital IDs, the concept of citizenship may evolve and no longer be tied to a geographic place, and they can see the possibility of the UN International Labour Organization becoming more important to “support global workers’ rights – comforting.

Potential labour market implications:

  • There may be significant growth in the digital economy, while analog businesses may become less competitive.
  • Canadian employee wages may be compressed if competing with global talent, potentially resulting in a call for a global minimum wage.
  • Income tax policies may need to be updated to reflect shifts in global employment trends.

Our article does not detail the full report and all of its findings, to read more – go here.

It’s a bit of an odd study for a government-funded agency to conduct – what do you think?

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The thumbnail for this article was created using images from within the report. We collaged them together on one of our backgrounds to make it.

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Published by Greg Staley

Greg Staley is a husband, and a father to 3 beautiful girls. He is a concerned citizen who is closely watching his government's actions through critical thinking, and assessment of all qualified and relevant data. He believes in going to the Primary sources of data at all times if possible.

2 thoughts on ““Yesterday’s Gone” report says “May be a shift to global workforces implications for tax policy” – funded by government of Canada’s Future Skills Centre