Backgrounder: Canadian Sustainable Jobs Act
A net-zero emissions economy represents significant opportunities for Canadians — to secure and create good, well-paying jobs, to grow our industries and to lead the world with the resources and technologies it will need for generations to come. With highly skilled and dedicated workers, abundant natural resources and energy sources critical for a net-zero future, and a thriving clean technology industry, Canada is uniquely positioned to seize the moment.
These opportunities exist in every part of the country and in every sector of our economy. From critical minerals to hydrogen, electric cars and buses, batteries, renewable energy, low-carbon building products, carbon management technologies and small modular reactors — Canada is building a net-zero economy that works for everyone. Clean Energy Canada anticipates that jobs in the clean energy sector in Canada will grow by 3.4 percent annually to 2030 — nearly four times faster than the Canadian average.
According to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) net-zero emissions by 2050 scenario (NZE), the shift to a low-carbon economy could create almost 40 million new jobs in clean energy by 2030.
In 2019, the government committed to introduce legislation to support workers and communities while unlocking economic opportunities. In February 2023, the Government of Canada released an interim Sustainable Jobs Plan for 2023–2025, which reiterated this commitment and outlined the government’s approach to building a more prosperous future for all Canadians. This plan outlined 10 concrete actions, including the commitment to introduce legislation.
Today, Minister Wilkinson delivered on this legislative commitment by introducing the Canadian Sustainable Jobs Act, which will facilitate and promote the creation of sustainable jobs and support workers and communities in Canada in line as the world advances toward a net-zero future. The bill will put workers and communities at the centre of federal policy and decision-making by establishing a framework for accountability, a governance structure and engagement mechanisms to guide effective federal action.
The bill is one of the 10 action areas outlined in the interim Sustainable Jobs Plan. The Government of Canada’s plan features partnership with provinces and territories, including via the Regional Energy and Resource Tables.
Unlocking Opportunities through the Regional Energy and Resource Tables
In 2022, the government launched the Regional Energy and Resource Tables (Regional Tables) to establish partnerships with each province and territory, as well as formal collaboration with Indigenous partners, labour and industry to identify, prioritize and pursue opportunities for sustainable job creation and economic growth in Canada’s energy, resource and resource-enabled sectors through the development of regional plans. The Regional Tables involve dialogue with workers, their unions and labour organizations and other partners including industry, and with other key groups and communities across the country, and it will also identify the skills required to realize growth opportunities across each region of the country.
These tables are a key part of identifying and pursuing the key economic opportunities across Canada, which will enable the creation of sustainable jobs.
Sustainable Jobs Interim Action Plan:
The interim Sustainable Jobs Plan outlined federal measures across 10 key action areas:
Establish the Sustainable Jobs Secretariat
Create a Sustainable Jobs Partnership Council
Develop economic strategies through the Regional Energy and Resource Tables
Introduce a sustainable jobs stream under the Union Training and Innovation Program
Advance funding for skills development toward sustainable jobs
Promote Indigenous-led solutions and a National Benefits-Sharing Framework
Improve labour market data collection, tracking and analysis
Motivate investors and draw in industry leadership to support workers
Collaborate and lead on the global stage
Establish legislation that ensures ongoing engagement and accountability
The Government of Canada’s approach to supporting the creation of sustainable jobs includes this legislation and builds on multiple broader actions to ensure Canadians will have access to well-paying, high-quality jobs as we grow a strong, inclusive net-zero and climate-resilient economy.
Bill entitled “An Act respecting accountability, transparency and engagement to support the creation of sustainable jobs for workers and economic growth in a net-zero economy” (Canadian Sustainable Jobs Act) — Legislative Actions
Subject to Parliamentary consideration, this bill would:
Introduce guiding principles to strengthen our collective work at the federal level to create an equitable and inclusive future by supporting the creation of sustainable jobs while addressing climate action and energy security.
Introduce a Sustainable Jobs Partnership Council, tasked with providing perspectives and recommendations to government while engaging with Canadians, such as workers and communities, to ensure there is a clear mechanism for them to contribute to Canada’s Sustainable Jobs approach over time.
Require the Government to publish Sustainable Job Action Plans every five years to ensure that the government will continue to be transparent and accountable to Canadians as it takes action to support workers and foster the creation of sustainable jobs across the country.
Require the creation of a Sustainable Jobs Secretariat to support the implementation of the proposed Act, support the Council and coordinate work across federal departments.
Require the Governor in Council to designate a Responsible Minister with overall responsibility for the Act and fulfilment of its provisions and designate Specified Ministers whose portfolios require their substantive engagement and input on sustainable jobs measures and actions.
This legislation is the product of a comprehensive consultation process that took place over years with other orders of government alongside key labour, industry and Indigenous partners, stakeholders and the Canadian public. It also took into consideration the recommendations of the Task Force on Just Transition for Canadian Coal Power Workers and Communities and a report of the Commissioner of Environment and Sustainable Development to bring forward legislation to establish a plan and governance and accountability mechanisms that will ensure the government is better positioned to support workers and communities.
Related Investments and Climate Actions to Date
The 2022 Fall Economic Statement included $250 million over five years, starting in 2023–24, for Employment and Social Development Canada to help ensure Canadian workers can thrive in a changing global economy.
Specific measures included support for 1. The Sustainable Jobs Training Centre, 2. A new sustainable jobs stream under the Union Training and Innovation Program and 3. The Sustainable Jobs Secretariat. Further details are available in the FES 2022.
The 2022 Fall Economic Statement also provided $60 million over three years, starting in 2023–24, to create new supplemental supports to existing federal and provincial or territorial programming.
This is in addition to investments across the Canadian economy to support workers across sectors. Workers, families and communities have consistently been at the heart of Canada’s climate policy through programs including historic public transit funding, investments in electric vehicle infrastructure, hydrogen development, carbon management technology deployment and green buildings.
These investments include those from Budget 2023. Canada is investing a historic $40 billion in clean electricity while deploying credits to enable job-creating generational investments in clean technology ranging from clean energy production, hydrogen and carbon management, and manufacturing. These ambitious and essential measures are linked to good prevailing wages to ensure the creation of middle-class jobs for generations ahead. Recognizing the importance of helping Canadians access the job training they want, the government has made historic investments in skills programming, including for sustainable jobs. Access to these opportunities for young people, people with disabilities and people from historically marginalized communities is paramount to improving equity and diversity, ensuring inclusive prosperity.
Using key levers at the federal level, the Government of Canada is taking action to accelerate the growth of sustainable jobs. Through a series of national climate plans — including the 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan, the first under the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act — Canada has earmarked over $120 billion to climate action and environmental protection since 2016.
The Government of Canada will continue collaboration efforts with key partners and stakeholders and eventually, with the Partnership Council, to develop a 2025 Sustainable Jobs Action Plan and ensure Canadians in every region have access to good, sustainable jobs.
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