One in five Canadians are using generative artificial intelligence (AI) tools to help them with their work or studies, finds new research from KPMG in Canada. But while many users are seeing a boost in productivity, the survey underscores the need for strong organizational controls and policies and employee education as some users are entering sensitive data into their prompts, not verifying results and claiming AI content as their own.

A survey of 5,140 Canadians found 1,052 (20 per cent) have used generative AI to help them do their jobs or schooling. The most common uses include research, generating ideas, writing essays and creating presentations. Respondents say the use of the technology has enhanced productivity and quality, created revenue and increased grades but, in the process, they are engaging in behaviour that could create risks for their employers.

“It’s absolutely critical for organizations to have clear processes and controls to prevent employees from entering sensitive information into generative AI prompts or relying on false or misleading material generated by AI,” says Zoe Willis, National Leader in Data, Digital and Analytics and partner in KPMG in Canada’s Generative AI practice. “This starts with clearly defined policies that educate your employees on the use of these tools. Organizational guardrails are essential to ensure compliance with privacy laws, client agreements and professional standards,” she adds.

The survey shows that among generative AI users, nearly one-quarter (23 per cent) of working professionals said they are entering information about their employer (including its name) into prompts, and some are even putting private financial data (10 per cent) or other proprietary information such as human resources or supply chain data (15 per cent) into their prompts.

When it comes to checking the accuracy of content generated by AI platforms, just under half (49 per cent) of users said they check every time, while 46 per cent check sometimes. Generative AI platforms have been known to produce content that’s misleading or inaccurate, often known as “hallucinations.”

“Data is an organization’s most valuable asset, and it needs to be safeguarded to prevent data leaks, privacy violations, and cybersecurity breaches, not to mention financial and reputational damage,” Ms. Willis says. “Organizations might need to look at creating proprietary generative AI models with safeguarded access to their own data – that’s a critical step to reducing the risk of sensitive data leaking out into the world and getting into the hands of potentially malicious actors.”

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Increased adoption driving productivity gains

With the increased capabilities provided by generative AI tools, KPMG created Canada’s first-ever Generative AI Adoption Index, which measures how, when and why Canadians are using generative AI tools in the workplace and at school in order to analyze the risks and benefits to organizations and society.

The inaugural Canadian Generative AI Index is 11.9, highlighting that the tool has become part of workers and students’ lives in short order, but the overall penetration rate remains relatively low. A score of 100 indicates mass adoption.

Of the 20 per cent of Canadians who use generative AI, 18 per cent use it daily or for every task, 34 per cent use it a few times per week, and 26 per cent a few times per month.

Just over half of users said generative AI tools save them up to five hours per week, and two-thirds (67 per cent) said the time saved by using generative AI tools has allowed them to take on additional work that they otherwise would not have had the capacity to take on. Two-thirds (65 per cent) said using generative AI is essential to address their workloads.

“From here on, the most productive employees will be the ones empowered by generative AI technology. Highly skilled employees with institutional knowledge of their organizations will be especially well-positioned to leverage generative AI because they have the context that helps them create more effective prompts, which in turn yields more relevant results, giving them the power to make better decisions in a fraction of the time. Organizations that embrace generative AI and arm their people with it responsibly will see major gains in workforce productivity,” Ms. Willis says.

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Transparency and accuracy

In addition to creating potentially sensitive prompts in generative AI platforms, users said they’re not always fully transparent about when they’re using the technology, with nearly two-thirds claiming AI-generated content as their own original work all or part of the time.

Ven Adamov, co-leader of KPMG in Canada’s Responsible AI framework and a partner in KPMG’s Generative AI practice says the lack of transparency underscores the need for organizations to implement strong frameworks, controls, processes and tools to ensure AI systems are being used in a trustworthy manner.

“Generative AI tools are potentially transformative for employee productivity, but the reality is employees don’t always use them responsibly. Implementing a responsible AI framework - which includes both policies and tools that identify and mitigate risks with AI output - can help protect against misuse of this powerful technology,” Mr. Adamov says.

While nearly three-quarters (73 per cent) of users said they are deeply concerned about the hallucinations that generative AI technologies currently churn out, most (70 per cent) said they will continue to use generative AI tools, regardless of the risks and controversy associated with them. To guard against the risks of misuse, Mr. Adamov thinks it is critical organizations adopt a responsible AI framework to keep sensitive data protected.

“Responsible AI is the foundation of every successful generative AI strategy. For organizations, that strategy should also include: assessing and implementing the right technology; ensuring data is relevant, recent and accurate; and training and empowering employees to use AI responsibly. Organizations that make these investments will gain a real competitive advantage and be able to monetize their data,” Mr. Adamov adds.

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About the KPMG in Canada Generative AI Adoption index

The KPMG in Canada Generative AI Adoption Index measures the use of generative AI tools among the Canadian population and is weighted on frequency of use, with a score of 100 indicating mass adoption. The Index is based on a survey conducted from May 17-29, 2023 using Sago’s Methodify online research platform and was reviewed by KPMG in Canada’s Generative AI practice, a diverse cross-functional team of specialists from across the firm. Sago surveyed a total of 5,140 Canadians, of which 1,052 said they use generative AI tools. The margin of error is +/- 3 percentage points, with a confidence level of 95 per cent. An additional Index measure will include a risk assessment score.

The full report on findings from KPMG in Canada’s Generative AI Index is available below.

About KPMG in Canada

KPMG LLP, a limited liability partnership, is a full-service Audit, Tax and Advisory firm owned and operated by Canadians. For over 150 years, our professionals have provided consulting, accounting, auditing, and tax services to Canadians, inspiring confidence, empowering change, and driving innovation. Guided by our core values of Integrity, Excellence, Courage, Together, For Better, KPMG employs more than 10,000 people in over 40 locations across Canada, serving private- and public-sector clients. KPMG is consistently ranked one of Canada's top employers and one of the best places to work in the country.

The firm is established under the laws of Ontario and is a member of KPMG's global organization of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International, a private English company limited by guarantee. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such. For more information, see

For media inquiries:

Roula Meditskos
National Communications and Media Relations
KPMG in Canada
(416) 416-549-7982

Sonja Cloutier-Bosworth
National Communications and Media Relations
KPMG in Canada
(416) 777-8175
(416) 528-5324