Final Report by the Task Force on Just Transition for Canadian Coal Power Workers and Communities: section 4

Remarks to the Federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Dear Minister,

When first convened as a Task Force, we all agreed to meet with affected Canadians as soon as possible. The concerns and hopes of those we met underscore the immense challenge of, and need for, a just transition. When the Government of Canada says it is going to “phase out coal,” coal workers and communities hear that Canada is phasing out their future, livelihood, stability, and identity. The impacts of the Government’s decision illustrate that taking action on climate change may come with any number of unintended consequences, including to the mental health of individuals, personal and family finances, and the economic stability of communities.

When putting in place environmental policies that impact Canadian workers and communities, governments must take responsibility for these adverse impacts and collaborate with stakeholders to find ways to minimize them. During our mandate, we heard loud and clear that the Government of Canada needs to actively support those negatively affected by the transition to a low-carbon economy. Just transition will be critical to building a broad consensus for taking action on climate change and reassuring Canadians that they will not be left behind.

There are many things the Government of Canada can do to better share the costs—and benefits—of a transition to a low-carbon economy. Consistent with what we heard, this report provides our advice on how best to ensure that individuals, families, and communities directly affected by the coal phase-out are supported throughout this transition.

Some of our recommendations are time sensitive, in particular our advice on how to prioritize spending from Budget 2018 and how to support the workers and communities in Alberta that are already experiencing impacts and layoffs due to the coal phase-out. Communities and workers require funding assistance in the short term, consistent with their needs and priorities. The establishment of new local supports will demonstrate that the Task Force and Government heard these workers and communities and respect their needs.

The federally-mandated Task Force on Just Transition for Canadian Coal Workers and Communities is the first of its kind and is an opportunity for Canada to demonstrate leadership here at home and abroad on how to take climate action that is fair and just.

We look forward to reviewing the Government of Canada’s response to our report.

Yours sincerely,

The Task Force on Just Transition for Canadian Coal Power Workers and Communities

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