Canada unveils sustainable jobs plan to prepare workers for future green economy
By Nia Williams
(Reuters) – Canada on Friday released a long-awaited Sustainable Jobs Plan, outlining how the federal government plans to help train workers for roles in the coming clean energy economy as the world reaches net-zero carbon by 2050 emissions.
The plan, which is expected to be followed by legislation later this year, includes steps such as establishing a Sustainable Jobs Secretariat to coordinate government policies and a Partnership Council to encourage consultation with provinces, unions and others.
Canada said it also plans to improve labor market data collection and boost funding for skills development, although the document did not outline any new government spending. From 2025, the government wants to publish a new plan for sustainable jobs every five years.
“Canada has what it takes to become the preferred supplier of clean energy and technology in a net-zero world,” Natural Resources Secretary Jonathan Wilkinson said in a press release.
Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been promising sustainable jobs legislation since 2019. But in Canada, the world’s fourth-largest crude oil producer, the concept of reskilling workers for clean energy jobs, also known as “Just Transition,” has become a lightning rod for criticism.
In the oil-producing province of Alberta, Conservative Prime Minister Danielle Smith has accused Trudeau of phasing out the oil and gas sector.
The Alberta government is “perplexed” that the employment plan fails to mention a liquefied natural gas export strategy and has “serious concerns” that it fails to recognize the provinces’ right to manage their own natural resources, Smith said in a statement on Friday.
“This type of dysfunctional communication from the federal government to our province cannot continue if Canada is to have any chance of meeting its 2050 emission reduction goals,” she said.
The federal government said huge clean energy opportunities are emerging in oil-producing provinces, from hydrogen to critical minerals. According to the document, there will also be sustainable jobs in the conventional energy industry as Canadian producers look to lower the carbon intensity of their crude.
“Rather than a shortage of jobs, in Canada we are far more likely to see an abundance of sustainable jobs with a shortage of the labor force needed to fill them,” the plan reads.
Think tank Clean Energy Canada expects jobs in the sector to grow 3.4% annually over the next decade, almost four times faster than the Canadian average.
On Thursday, Smith wrote to Trudeau offering to work with the federal government to develop incentives for carbon capture and storage, but only if Ottawa obtained Alberta’s approval of climate measures affecting oil and gas, including legislation on jobs in the field of clean energy.
(Reporting by Nia Williams, Editing by Marguerita Choy and David Gregorio)