Four converging disruptions. Four intersections redefining how we see the world around us. Global disruption in 4D isn't a glimpse into the future—it's the gateway to understanding Canada's new reality. A new dimension awaits—are you ready to step in?

Uncertainty about the future of the world has deepened in recent years. Numerous events with global ramifications—from pandemics and destructive weather events to lengthy, violent conflicts and technological revolutions—have left leaders with more questions than answers. While Canada possesses enduring advantages, it will have to confront and adapt to this environment of volatility to ensure a secure and prosperous future for all of us who call it home.

Complex issues need sophisticated responses

We see four, interconnected disruptions at the global level that are having a significant impact on life in Canada: the talent transformation, the artificial intelligence (AI) revolution, the race to net-zero, and geopolitical uncertainty. These forces are deeply intertwined, with each influencing the others. For instance, capitalizing on the immense opportunity of AI requires first equipping workers with the skills to use it effectively. Similarly, making progress on net-zero emissions goals means also being aware of the potential for geopolitical conflict to rupture the supply chains that bring in the goods critical to the energy transition.

To build a better future, Canada must address these disruptions not only individually but also by recognizing the trade-offs and interdependencies between them. This calls for systems-level thinking, greater collaboration, and a willingness to think innovatively. We believe we have both a calling and a duty to drive positive change for Canada. We aspire for these insights to shift the perspectives of our country’s leaders, prompting them to examine these disruptions in relation to each other and separately as they map out for a thriving future together.



We define a disruption as a recent global phenomenon that has a significant impact on Canada.

  • It is global in nature.
  • It has emerged, substantially changed, or intensified since 2020.
  • It has significant, far-reaching, and pressing implications for Canada:
    It is significant enough to considerably affect national economic and societal well-being. It is far-reaching enough to be felt across multiple sectors and regions. It is pressing enough to require urgent response by business leaders and policymakers.

Come along as we examine the overlaps of these disruptions under the microscope…

The disruption, the drivers, the impact, the overlap.

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The intersection of geopolitical uncertainty & AI revolution

The intersection of

Geopolitical uncertainty & AI revolution

A conversation with:

Jaimie Boyd, Partner, National Digital Government Leader

Aisha Greene, National Sales Director of the Office of Generative AI

Intensifying geopolitical competition and uncertainty are complicating the AI landscape, creating three key challenges for Canada. There’s the strong competition for strategic AI resources, including data, software, and hardware. The race to govern AI adds another competitive element, as nations seek to be first to establish rules for the digital world. And the evolving risks associated with AI—including misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation enabled by technology—are threatening democracy and institutional trust at home and around the world.



Harm from the global pursuit of AI sovereignty

  • Position Canada as a leader in the global semiconductor industry
  • Protect AI research from espionage

A need to catch up on AI governance

  • Introduce AI governance and enhance agility

AI-enabled misinformation is undermining trust and democracy

  • Fight the impact of misinformation on elections

The intersection of talent transformation & the race to net-zero

The intersection of

talent transformation & the race to net-zero

A conversation with:

Andrew Swart, Managing Partner, Energy, Resources & Industrials

Jodi Baker Calamai, National Managing Partner, Human Capital, Consulting

Canada has made significant commitments to and investments in the transition to net-zero emissions, but our ability to meet our targets is being hindered by the lack of a comprehensive national workforce strategy to ensure Canadians are prepared for a clean energy economy. As the new jobs necessary for the transition are created, we have a chance to ensure that demographic groups that are historically underrepresented in the sector are able to share in the net-zero career opportunities.



Workers are unequipped to work in the net-zero economy

  • Develop and implement a comprehensive net-zero skills strategy
  • Attract talent to skilled trades careers

The benefits of net-zero opportunities aren’t evenly distributed

  • Create opportunities for equal access to high-quality clean energy jobs

The intersection of the race to net-zero & geopolitical uncertainty

The intersection of

The race to net-zero & geopolitical uncertainty

A conversation with:

Andrew Swart, Managing Partner, Energy, Resources & Industrials

Gavin McTavish, National Strategy & Business Design Leader

As global power dynamics shift, geopolitical uncertainty is impacting Canada’s path to net-zero in two important ways. The uncertainty facing Canada’s future energy mix is one, as geopolitical conflicts grow. The second is the threat of trade tensions and supply chain disruptions to Canada’s access to the critical minerals needed for net-zero solutions—yet, simultaneously, this threat presents an opportunity to capture a competitive position in the critical minerals value chain.



Uncertainty about Canada’s future energy mix is complicating efforts

  • Support investments in clean technology and decarbonization
  • Enhance competitiveness through border carbon adjustments

An opportunity to supply critical minerals

  • Move faster and more responsibly
  • Compete throughout the value chain
  • Position Canada as a global leader in critical minerals

The intersection of AI revolution & talent transformation

The intersection of

AI revolution & talent transformation

A conversation with:

Benoit Hardy-Vallée, Director, Human Capital

Jas Jaaj, AI and Data (including Omnia AI) Managing Partner

A skilled workforce is vital for capitalizing on the full potential of AI, but Canadian organizations face two challenges in this regard: fierce global competition for the highly skilled talent needed to deploy AI, and barriers to preparing their current workforce to use AI effectively.



A battle to hire Canada’s world‑class AI talent

  • Rethink strategies for attracting AI talent
  • Work with universities to both access and develop AI talent
  • Stem localized brain drain

A struggle to prepare workforces for AI‑driven change

  • Create an action plan to build workers’ skills in AI
  • Incentivize business investment in AI training for employees


Research approach

To inform this report, the Future of Canada Centre conducted a survey of 828 managers and executives across Canada from June 16-30, 2023. The survey data has been weighted to Statistics Canada population data for enterprises by size and region and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.46% at a 95% confidence interval.

We also conducted a series of eight roundtables and one flagship symposium with CEOs and directors across Canada. These discussions aimed to gather insights from business leaders on the four global disruptions considered in this report and their impacts on Canada.

Lastly, in fall 2023, we conducted two workshops with external specialists that focused on specific global disruptions. The first workshop focused on the AI revolution and how this disruption intersects with the others, while the second focused on net-zero acceleration and its intersections. These workshops helped us gain in-depth insights into these disruptions, as well as prioritize which intersections were important for Canadian leaders to focus on.

Insights from Canadian business leaders

Through a series of roundtables and a focused CEO | Director Symposium, we engaged in structured dialogues with leaders across Canada to explore the themes of this report. These discussions aimed to capture insights on the impacts of global disruptions and the strategic decisions necessary for businesses and governments to secure a favourable outcome.

Here's what we heard.

What strikes you most about global disruption and its impact on Canada?

  • The interconnectedness: Leaders must acknowledge, understand, and navigate the multi-dimensional nature of global disruption to respond effectively and accurately.
  • The complexities: Disruptions cannot be considered in a vacuum; factors like declining trust in institutions, demographic shifts, and socioeconomic disparities must also be considered. The era of misinformation adds another layer of complexity as we seek to reach a common understanding.
  • The need for collaboration: The collaborative dynamic between businesses and governments during the COVID-19 pandemic has weakened significantly. Leaders must re-prioritize these connections to navigate this constantly evolving landscape.
  • The risks: The immediacy of the risks associated with global disruption is clear. For example, AI is exacerbating issues like misinformation and cyber vulnerabilities. Canada must cultivate strong AI expertise and leadership to navigate this landscape effectively and align with international regulatory standards.



Future of Canada Centre


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Future of Canada Centre



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