The Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario (IPC) and the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) recently issued a joint statement regarding the use of AI technologies. They emphasize their shared commitment to protecting the human rights and privacy of Ontarians. The IPC and OHRC expressed their concerns and urged the Ontario government to develop and implement robust rules for the public sector’s use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies.
While acknowledging the positive potential of AI technologies in areas such as health, education, and public safety, the statement highlights the risks associated with their use. AI technologies often rely on large amounts of personal information that may not be adequately protected or obtained lawfully. They can also perpetuate biases and have disproportionate impacts on marginalized individuals or groups protected by human rights legislation.
The IAM has consistently advocated for regulation of AI, which includes broad consultation with workers and the general public. The IAM’s report, “Charting Change: Workers’ Voices in an Automated World,” focuses on AI technology and its impact on Canadian jobs. The report offers conclusions and recommendations from focus groups with union members who voiced their worries and daily realities with automation.
The federal government lags behind in regulation of artificial intelligence and similar technologies, while consultative forums that exist are limited to the business community. History has shown the dangers of allowing business to regulate itself, there is still so much we’ve yet to learn about the impact of AI, said David Chartrand, IAM Canada General Vice-President, adding that, it is precisely because of this uncertainty, that government must include all stakeholders into the process of devising a national strategy.
IAM Canada has demanded workers be represented on the Advisory Council on Artificial Intelligence (AI), a council created in 2019 to advise the Government of Canada on building Canada’s strengths and global leadership in AI. The Advisory Council includes leading AI experts from Canadian industry, civil society, academia, and government, but has failed to acknowledge the IAM’s demands to include trade unions in discussions.
The joint statement points out that AI technologies can generate opaque or difficult-to-understand inferences and decisions, which may result in flawed or inaccurate content. Without proper evaluation and accountability, AI technologies can reinforce historical biases and discriminatory practices. The statement cites legislative efforts in other jurisdictions, such as the European Union’s proposed Artificial Intelligence Act and the Canadian federal government’s Bill C-27, to regulate the responsible use of AI technologies.
“I cannot stress how urgent this is”, said Dave Chartrand. Workers, especially those who are negatively impacted by the implementation of automation and artificial intelligence need to have their voices heard. Just to be clear, we are not against artificial intelligence or automation. What we want is make sure workers aren’t left behind in the rush to implement technologies that are affecting our ability to earn and support our families.”