The Trudeau government just released the Sustainable Jobs Plan, their strategy to support workers, communities and the economy as the global shift from fossil fuels to clean energy speeds up.
It’s been over three years since the Prime Minister first promised a Just Transition Act to ensure Canada’s energy transition is fair to workers and leaves no one behind. The Sustainable Jobs Plan lays out a roadmap to finally pass that legislation. If it’s done right, this could be a huge step towards a better future for all of us.
350 Canada and our allies will be pushing hard for Parliament to back up the Sustainable Jobs Plan with bold legislation and historic green investments. Here’s a high-level look at what’s in the current plan and what’s missing.
What the Sustainable Jobs Plan gets right
Although the Liberals have dropped the term “just transition,” this is clearly their just transition policy. Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives points out that, while there isn’t a lot of new policy in the Plan, it “creates the right kinds of institutions and identifies the right priorities for future policies.”
Those new institutions include a Sustainable Jobs Secretariat tasked with ensuring the success of the plan. It’s a far cry from a Ministry of Just Transition, but an important step toward the all-of-government approach Canada needs.
The Plan also includes programs to support workers’ rights and Indigenous-owned clean energy projects, which shows the government understands that the energy transition plan must have justice at its core, regardless of what the policy is called.
What the Sustainable Jobs Plan gets wrong
As promising as the plan may be, it has two huge flaws.
First, the Trudeau government seems to have forgotten the “transition” part of “just transition.” They still won’t admit that real climate action means ending fossil fuel expansion as soon as possible. Although the Plan mentions “declining demand,” it also says “the production and use of oil and gas will continue for many decades.” The government explicitly says that it isn’t planning a regulatory phaseout of fossil fuels, despite success in taking that approach with coal power.
Second, the Plan commits only a fraction of the public money experts say Canada needs to invest if we’re going to make this transition happen at the speed and scale the climate crisis demands. There are some good ideas like a new sustainable jobs stream under the Union Training and Innovation Program and summer job placements for young people pursuing green careers, but the CCPA says there isn’t nearly enough new funding. Canada needs to invest an extra $60 billion per year to achieve the economic transformation we need.
In its current form, the Sustainable Jobs Plan fails the climate test and that is because of the fossil fuel industry’s oversized influence on Canadian politics.
Big Oil is trying to sabotage the process
As always, the oil and gas lobby is working behind the scenes to delay climate progress while lobbying to pull even more money from the public purse for false solutions like carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS). The day after the government put out their Sustainable Jobs Plan, the Pathways Alliance — a greenwashing organization made up of Canada’s six largest oil sands producers — wrapped the front page of the Toronto Star in a massive ad boasting about their “climate leadership.”
The federal government seems to be playing along. The Sustainable Jobs Plan follows the fossil fuel industry’s line on CCUS, framing the unproven technology as a license to keep producing and burning fossil fuels well into the future. As a recent report by the International Institute for Sustainable Development explains, that’s a dangerous mistake.
It’s going to take all of us to stop Big Oil and push our leaders to follow up the Sustainable Jobs Plan with the robust legislation and historic public investment we need. Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for the latest news and updates on our campaign.
This crucial policy is being co-opted by the same fossil fuel companies that spread climate denial, crack down on unions and put profits above all else. It’s time to speak up and demand a just transition that puts the needs of regular people over corporate profits, and guarantees good, green jobs for all. Sign the petition to get involved.
Learn more about the Sustainable Jobs Plan
If you’d like to take a deeper dive, our friends at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the Council of Canadians have both published blog posts breaking down the Sustainable Jobs Plan in more detail.
- Does Canada’s Sustainable Jobs Plan deliver on the promise of a just transition? by Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
- Will The Federal “Sustainable Jobs Plan” Mean A Just Transition? by Dylan Penner, Council of Canadians