Making decarbonization work for workers

Policies for a just transition to a zero-carbon economy in Canada

Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood
JANUARY 25, 2018

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Communities across Canada need a national strategy to ensure the move to a zero-carbon economy leaves no one behind. For the first time, this report uses census data to identify the regions in each province with the greatest reliance on fossil fuel jobs. The new analysis comes after the federal government announced last fall it will launch a task force in 2018 on a “just transition” policy framework for certain sectors. In general, the broad goal of a just transition is to ensure an equitable, productive outcome for all workers in the decarbonized future.

Among the study’s findings:

  • Fossil fuel dependence is overwhelmingly concentrated in Alberta, with a few hot spots in Saskatchewan and British Columbia;

  • However, there are communities from coast to coast where the share of fossil fuel jobs is relatively high. Bay Roberts, N.L.; Cape Breton, N.S.; Saint John, N.B.; Sarnia, Ont.; Estevan, Sask; Wood Buffalo, Alta.; and Fort St. John, B.C., have the greatest share of fossil fuel workers in their respective provinces;

  • In addition to a national just transition strategy and targeted policy measures for fossil fuel-dependent communities, Canada’s social security programs should be enhanced to better support workers in any industry facing job loss and retraining costs;

  • Governments must also invest in workforce development programs to ensure there are enough skilled workers to fill new jobs created by the zero-carbon economy.