OTTAWA—Marginalized workers and communities impacted by climate change policies are at risk of facing even greater inequality if Canada’s just transition strategy is not expanded to include groups that are historically disadvantaged by Canada’s labour market, according to a new report released today.
“Canadian governments are recognizing the need to retrain and transition fossil-fuel workers, but without proactive social policies to promote workforce diversification, certain workers and communities will be left behind and left out of the economic benefits that decarbonization offers,” says Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) senior researcher and co-author of Who is included in a Just Transition? Considering social equity in Canada’s shift to a zero-carbon economy.
A just transition means the costs of phasing out fossil fuels are not borne unfairly by workers and the benefits of investments in a cleaner economy are fairly shared.
The study, co-published by the CCPA and the Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces to Respond to Climate Change research program (ACW), finds that transition policies like those implemented by Alberta do not ensure inclusion of historically marginalized workers in retraining programs, for example. Being left out of just transition policy would result in these workers unfairly bearing the costs of phasing out fossil fuels—and the zero-carbon economy of the future would be as unequal and unjust as the fossil fuel-based economy of today.
“It’s critical that as Canada considers developing a broader just transition program, we address the lack of opportunity currently offered to women, Indigenous and racialized workers. These workers are largely underrepresented in the higher-paid energy industries that may receive direct transition support, but they are overrepresented in the low-paid service sectors, like retail and social services, that are essential to the well-being of fossil fuel communities,” adds Mertins-Kirkwood.
Among other recommendations, the report calls for just transition policies to be expanded so they apply to all workers in affected communities (rather than just to industry-specific workers) and for more direct funding to programs and institutions that recruit and train women, Indigenous and racialized individuals, as well as immigrants in the skilled trades.
Who is included in a Just Transition? Considering social equity in Canada’s shift to a zero-carbon economy, by Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood and Zaee Desphande, is available for download on the CCPA website.
The report is a co-publication by the CCPA and the Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces to Respond to Climate Change research program, based at York University and funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The CCPA is an independent, non-profit charitable research institute founded in 1980.
For more information, please contact Alyssa O’Dell, CCPA Media and Public Relations Officer, at [email protected], 613-563-1341 x307 or cell 343-998-7575