Task Force: Just Transition for Canadian Coal Power Workers and Communities

In early 2019, the Task Force provided two reports to us on how to make the transition away from coal-fired electricity a fair one for Canadian coal workers and communities. Made up of a broad range of experts, the Task Force has completed its mandate.

  1. A Just and Fair Transition for Canadian Coal Power Workers and Communities
    With ten recommendations, this report provides advice on what we could include in a just transition plan for coal workers and communities. It also:
    • provides a background and overview of coal-fired electricity in Canada
    • highlights circumstances in the provinces that continue to use coal
    • outlines a subsequent phase of consultation and analysis on just transition
  2. What We Heard from Canadian Coal Power Workers and Communities
    This complementary report details what the Task Force heard, by province and theme, during their engagement process in spring 2018. During this period, the Task Force travelled to Canadian coal communities and personally met with:
    • workers and their families
    • employers
    • labour union representatives
    • provinces
    • municipalities
    • community members
    • business representatives
    • non-governmental organizations
    • other stakeholders
Task Force members

Note: This information is no longer being maintained. It was current at the launch of the Task Force in April 2018.

Hassan Yussuff (Co-chair)
Lois Corbett (Co-chair)
Gil McGowan
Mark Rowlinson
Scott Doherty
Tara Peel
Matt Wayland
Rick Smith
Brenda Kuecks
John T. Wright
Anna Redden

Hassan Yussuff

Hassan Yussuff

President, Canadian Labour Congress
Task Force Co-chair

Hassan Yussuff is serving his second term as President of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC). He has led successful campaigns on a number of issues including worker safety and retirement security, which helped secure a comprehensive ban on asbestos and the expansion of the Canada Pension Plan. As well as his work in Canada, Hassan is a prominent international activist. In 2016, he was elected for a second term as president of the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas, an organization uniting 56 national organizations representing more than 60 million workers in 23 countries. Determined to build a better world for future generations, Hassan is committed to the fight against climate change and to ensuring a just and fair transition for the workers and communities affected by the evolution to a green economy.

Lois Corbett

Lois Corbett

Executive Director, Conservation Council of New Brunswick
Task Force Co-Chair

Lois Corbett leads the Conservation Council of New Brunswick in its goal of helping governments, businesses, educators and families find practical solutions to protect our land, air and water. An environmental policy expert, Lois served as an advisor to several Ministers of the Environment in Ontario before establishing her own consulting business. She has more than 20 years of professional experience in the Canadian non-profit environmental sector, working as Executive Director of the Toronto Environmental Alliance, the Toronto Atmospheric Fund and before that, Ecology Action Centre in Halifax.  
Lois’ work experience has touched on many issues, from acid rain and smog to climate change and renewable energy solutions, from watershed protection to waste reduction. An expert strategist, negotiator and communicator with extensive policy reform experience, Lois returned home to New Brunswick in 2014.

Gil McGowan

Gil McGowan

President, Alberta Federation of Labour
Representative of a provincial Federation of Labour on the Task Force

Gil McGowan is serving his sixth term as president of the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL). He has led the AFL on issues such as sustainable resource development, reform of the temporary foreign worker program, climate change and green jobs. In addition to his position with the AFL, Gil also sits on the CLC’s Canadian Council and is Co-chair of the Economic Diversification Advisory Committee (EDAC), a special committee established by the Alberta government to make recommendations about how to add more value to Alberta’s energy resources.

Mark Rowlinson

Mark Rowlinson

Executive Assistant to the Canadian National Director of the United Steelworkers
Representative from a union responsible for coal extraction

Mark Rowlinson is the Executive Assistant to the Canadian National Director of the United Steelworkers, a senior administrative and policy position within the Union. Mark is also the President of Blue Green Canada, an alliance of Canadian labour unions, environmental and civil society organizations that promotes solutions to environmental issues that have positive employment and economic impacts. Before joining the Steelworkers, Mark was called to the Bar of Ontario in 1994. From 1994 to 2011, Mark worked as Counsel to the Steelworkers in Toronto, where he represented the Union before courts and tribunals across Canada.

Scott Doherty

Scott Doherty

Executive Assistant to the National President, Unifor
Representative from a union in coal power generating facilities

Scott Doherty is the Executive Assistant to the National President of Unifor, where he is responsible for the Energy, Forestry, Air Canada, Aeroplan and Rail sectors of the Union. Previously, Scott was elected Western Regional Director of Unifor and was also appointed to the National Executive Board. He served multiple terms as secretary-treasurer of the Campbell River & Courtenay Labour Council.  Scott also served as a Communications, Energy and Paperworkers (CEP) union national rank and file board member and was appointed a CEP national representative in 2008. 

Tara Peel

Tara Peel

National Representative for Health, Safety and Environment, Canadian Labour Congress
Representative of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC)

Tara Peel is the National Representative for Health, Safety and Environment at CLC, where she is responsible for developing national campaigns and providing analysis on a variety of workplace health, environmental health and sustainability issues. Tara is a member of the Board of Directors of Climate Action Network Canada and the national steering committee for the Green Economy Network. She also serves as a Member of the Council of Governors for the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. Previously, as Policy and Special Projects Coordinator for the Manitoba Federation of Labour (MFL), she was responsible for implementing MFL priorities, including a focus on health, safety and environment.

Matt Wayland

Matt Wayland

Political Action/Media Strategist, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers – Canada
Representative from a union in the skilled trades related to coal power

Matt Wayland is a Strategist for the Canadian arm of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). Matt has been responsible for building a national grassroots political program for the IBEW Canada membership. He continues to motivate, educate, and engage IBEW members in political action that has impact on their trade, training, safety and careers. Matt is also the IBEW’s national point-person for the partnership with Helmets to Hardhats, a program that seeks to place Canadian veterans into second careers in the skilled trades.

Rick Smith

Rick Smith

Leduc County Councillor
Municipal Representative

Rick grew up in Lloydminster Alberta/Saskatchewan.  He is extremely proud of his Metis heritage, with family across the prairie provinces.

Rick attended the University of Alberta and graduated with a Bachelor of Education.  Rick’s teaching career focused on special needs and behavioral students.  He was very active with the Alberta Teachers’ Association in the areas of negotiations and pension consulting.  In 2014, Rick retired as a teacher.

In 2014, Rick ran to be a municipal councillor with Leduc County.  He is currently serving his second term.  Leduc County is the home to 3 coal fired generating stations.  Rick also has extensive knowledge of the other 15 coal fired plants in Alberta and has visited the mining and coal generation plants in Estevan.  Leduc County was also involved in the “Supporting Workers and Communities, Recommendations to the Alberta Government”.

Brenda Kuecks

Brenda Kuecks

Former President, Ecotrust Canada
Business, Non-profit and Community Development Consultant
Workforce development expert

Brenda Kuecks’ career as a specialist in Community Economic Development, stakeholder management and mediation spans 25 years. Her experience has focused on rural and remote communities across Canada and internationally, including Indigenous and Aboriginal communities. She has supported small-scale economic development in Southern Africa; fishermen and fishing community transition in BC; business and community development in Clayoquot Sound after the war-in-the-woods; and alternative rural and urban economic development as Ecotrust Canada’s President. Brenda’s work has centered almost entirely on the design and development of innovative products and services that can support the interests and needs of individuals and communities seeking to create good new livelihoods.  Her work includes small business start-up; economic development planning; management and governance training; and strategic partnership engagement.

John T. Wright

John T. Wright

Former President, SaskPower
Past executive from a major Canadian electricity company or utility

John Wright is presently a lecturer in economics at the University of Regina. John has more than 30 years of public-sector experience, including as deputy minister of Health and deputy minister of Finance for the Government of Saskatchewan. He also served as president and CEO of several crown agencies in that province, including SaskPower, Crown Investments Corporation and Saskatchewan Government Insurance. John has served on the board of directors of Canadian Electricity Association as well as the boards of governors for the University of Regina and the University of Saskatchewan.

Anna Redden

Anna Redden

Director, Acadia Tidal Energy Institute and Dean, Research & Graduate Studies, Acadia University
Sustainable development expert

Dr. Anna Redden is a marine ecologist and professor at Acadia University, with over 30 years of experience working on environmental issues and effects monitoring in coastal waters. She is the co-founder and executive chair of the Fundy Energy Research Network, established in 2010 to assist government, tidal energy developers and the research community in working collaboratively to address environmental, engineering and socio-economic challenges. She co founded the Acadia Tidal Energy Institute, served as a Board Director of the Fundy Ocean Research Center for Energy (FORCE) from 2009-2016, and is Canada’s lead for the International Ocean Energy Agency’s OES Initiative: Annex IV (Environmental Effects of Marine Renewable Energy).

Terms of reference

Just Transition for Canadian coal power workers and communities [PDF - 586 KB]

About Just Transition

To address climate change, Canada and other countries have put forward commitments to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. To meet these commitments, the global economy is beginning to make a shift -- from an emphasis on emissions-intensive industry, transportation, and fuels, to a focus on low-emissions industry, and an economy that delivers growth with reduced environmental impact.

One of the measures the Government of Canada is implementing to reduce pollution is the phasing out of coal-fired electricity generation by 2030. This accelerated phase-out of coal power has implications for workers and communities supported by this industry. It is therefore important that society ensure the costs and benefits of economic and environmental adjustments be shared across society.

“Just Transition” is an approach to economic and environmental policy that aims to minimize the impact on workers and communities of this relatively rapid transition to a low carbon economy, to identify and support economic opportunities for the future, and to involve affected workers and their communities in discussions that would affect their livelihoods. Here the focus is on workers and communities affected by the deliberate policy to accelerate the phase out of coal fired electricity, in the context of strengthened federal support for workers and communities across the economy.


The Task Force on Just Transition for Canadian Coal Power Workers and Communities (the Task Force) is responsible for providing knowledge, options and recommendations to the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change on implementing a just transition for workers and communities directly impacted by the accelerated phase out of coal fired electricity in Canada.


The Task Force mandate is to:

  • engage with relevant stakeholder groups, provinces, and municipal governments to receive information and suggestions on:
    • the scale and types of impacts the accelerated phase out of coal-fired electricity may have on directly affected workers and communities
    • opportunities to transition affected workers and communities toward new economic opportunities (for example, to the renewables sector)
    • leveraging existing allocations of infrastructure funds, economic development funds, employment and training supports, and any other programs to enable workers and communities to succeed through the transition
    • gaps in policy and programs to support the transition
  • provide a summary of what was heard from stakeholders, provinces, and municipal governments
  • based on this engagement, provide options and recommendations to the Minister on what could be included in a just transition plan for coal power workers and communities to enable workers and communities affected by the phase out to identify economic opportunities for the future, capitalize on those opportunities, and minimize impacts as the transition is made
  • provide options and recommendations to the Minister on how to structure a subsequent phase of consultation and analysis concerning just transition, specifically the skills, training and other planning necessary for Canada to prosper throughout the global transition to clean growth and a low-carbon economy


The Task Force will:

  • meet with representatives from the list of stakeholder groups below, and others as identified, to receive their information and thought regarding the mandate:
    • communities: directly support the coal power sector
    • labour: local workforce with jobs centred on the coal power sector
    • industry: companies in the coal power sector
    • clean tech: companies focused on innovation to reduce environmental impact from industry, and to develop other economic opportunities
    • finance: investment organizations with views on the opportunities for the economy into the future
    • academics and non-government organizations: with research and insight on the mandate
  • make site visits to a representative number of facilities and communities that will be affected by the accelerated phase-out of coal power in Canada
  • prepare and deliver a written and verbal interim report for the Minister
  • prepare and deliver a written and verbal final report for the Minister


The Task Force consists of 9 members and two chairs. Members and the chairs will be appointed through a ministerial appointments process with representation from each of the following:

  • a workforce development expert
  • a sustainable development expert
  • a past executive from a major Canadian electricity company or utility
  • a municipal representative, identified in collaboration with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities
  • a representative from the Canadian Labour Congress
  • a representative from a provincial Federation of Labour in an affected province
  • a representative from a union responsible for coal extraction
  • a representative from a union in coal power generating facilities
  • a representative from a union in the skilled trades related to coal power

Membership will reflect the need for diversity and gender balance.

As vacancies arise, or as a need is identified, the Minister will appoint new members.


The Task Force will begin its work once appointed, and will deliver its final report to the Minister within 9 months.

Time requirements

It is anticipated that participation in the Task Force will require approximately 15-25 days of work, including meetings with stakeholders, site visits, and a mix of face-to-face meetings and teleconference calls.

Members’ responsibilities

As leaders within their constituency, members should endeavor to offer views on the topics of economic shift and Just Transition from the basis of their accrued experience, and from the perspective of their broader constituency.

Task Force members will refrain from using the Task Force forum to advance views that would provide specific and focused benefit to their employer, organization, community, or other specific interests.

Task Force members will, in the interest of continuity and in delivering the mandate, make every possible effort to attend all meetings and engage in the work of the Task Force.

For continuity purposes and to ensure that the Task Force is able to provide the necessary advice to fulfill its role, attendance will be limited to the members themselves. Members cannot identify designated alternates to attend meetings on his or her behalf.


The Task Force members will be reimbursed for travel expenses incurred in the in the performance of duties at a level consistent with Government of Canada Treasury Board guidelines. Members may be eligible to receive an honorarium if they are not already receiving compensation while performing activities related to the task force.

Secretariat and administrative support

Government of Canada officials will be provided for administrative support, and for drafting of written reports and presentations. The secretariat will make every reasonable effort to gather data and information that may support the Task Force in fulfilling its mandate.

Operating procedures

For discussion within the Task Force, and with ECCC and other federal officials acting as secretariat, meetings will typically be remote (i.e. teleconference). There may, however, be good reason and opportunity for the Task Force to meet in person. As much notice as possible will be provided for proposed in-person meetings.

Differing viewpoints are encouraged, and will be respected.

Members are encouraged to collaborate amongst themselves outside of the scheduled meetings times in a manner they so choose.


In dealings with the media, public forums, and in inter-personal conversation, members will show sensitivity and discretion in any statement made regarding the activities of the Task Force, and will refrain from disclosing any information shared with or by Task Force members.

Documents or information obtained while serving on the Task Force should be used only in the context of fulfilling the duties and mandate of the Task Force. Any documents or information obtained through a meeting of the Task Force will be kept strictly confidential by the member, unless prior approval to disclose is obtained in writing.

Members acknowledge receipt of, and agreement with, these terms of reference.

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