The Big Read

The Alberta town that’s at greatest risk of losing jobs to automation

A radio disc jockey interrupts the country music playing to an empty room at Ricky’s All Day Grill in Brooks, Alta. He wants to take a minute, he says, to recognize Gissela Ramirez, a recruiting supervisor who left her corporate law gig in Guadalajara, Mexico to work at the slaughterhouse and beef-packing plant in Brooks. The facility, owned by the world’s largest beef-processing company, Brazil-based JBS, is the biggest employer in town. 

The shoutout is part of a regular segment to remind listeners of JBS’s dedication to its workers and to Brooks, a city of almost 15,000 along the Trans-Canada Highway about halfway between Calgary and Medicine Hat. JBS employs 2,800 people in the community, and it’s growing. But those jobs—and many others in Brooks’s manufacturing- and trades-focused labour force—are facing the prospect of sweeping disruption; according to an internal federal government analysis obtained by The Logic, jobs in Brooks are more vulnerable to automation than anywhere else in Canada.  

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