Unions applaud Canada’s commitment to a just transition for coal workers

Canada’s unions are applauding the federal government for showing international leadership on climate change by announcing plans to tie Canada’s phase-out of coal-fired electricity with a just transition for affected workers and communities. 

“Canada has seized an opportunity to set an international example by proving that ambitious economic restructuring policy to save our planet can be drafted with people at the its centre,” said CLC President Hassan Yussuff. 

Against the backdrop of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Bonn, Germany, Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna today pledged federal support for the Government of Alberta’s just transition plan for coal workers, including flexibility on Employment Insurance and working with Western Economic Diversification Canada to support the communities affected by the phasing out of coal power.

“Workers who have dedicated their lives to keeping the lights on can’t be expected to shoulder the burden of meeting Canada’s emission reduction targets,” said Alberta Federation of Labour President Gil McGowan, who was a part of the Canadian labour delegation to this year’s UN Climate Conference.

“The Alberta government took the lead by promising income support, retraining, and local economic development, but workers needed assurance that Ottawa was equally committed to their livelihoods and their communities. We now have that commitment,” he added.

Minister McKenna also announced her government’s intention to work directly with the Canadian Labour Congress to launch a task force that will develop a national framework on Just Transition for workers affected by the coal phase-out. The work of this task force is slated to begin early in the new year.

“Unions are committed to working in partnership with the governments of Canada and Alberta to meet Canada’s international climate change targets while making sure that no one is left behind,” said Yussuff.