Sustainable Jobs Plan
An interim plan for 2023-2025 detailing concrete federal actions to advance economic prosperity and sustainable jobs in every region of the country
- Foreword by Ministers Wilkinson, O’Regan and Qualtrough
- Meaning of the term ‘sustainable jobs’
- Progress to date
- Federal actions to support the creation of sustainable jobs in every region of Canada
- 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 towards 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
- What we heard from the consultations
- Engagement sessions held across Canada
- The role and input of labour unions
- Provinces, territories and municipalities
- Indigenous organizations
- Industry, business groups and utilities
- Education and skills and training organizations
- Think tanks and research organizations
- Environmental organizations
- Western Canada coal communities in transition
- General public
- Outcomes and reporting
Sustainable Jobs Plan [PDF version - 2.12 MB]
Workers are at the heart of Canada’s prosperity. It is workers who have built up the industries that create wealth in every region of this country, and it is workers who will continue to build up new industries, and generate prosperity from new markets.
The global economy is changing rapidly. That change will only continue to accelerate.
As investors increasingly prioritize assets that will contribute to a net-zero world future, global market opportunities worth trillions of dollars are at stake.
Canada has not only the natural resources needed. We have the skilled, hardworking people who continue to build prosperity, and we can do more to support that. Governments need to work with labour partners and industry to harness the opportunity of a net-zero future presents Canadian workers in every region of the country.
That work is well underway.
The Regional Energy and Resource Tables are a forum where our government is sitting down with provincial and territorial partners in pursuit of important economic opportunities in every region of Canada – helping workers, businesses, Indigenous partners, young people and others build a future they want for themselves and their communities.
By committing to ongoing Sustainable Jobs Plans, we will partner with workers, industry, communities and regions across Canada to lead for decades to come – with sustainable jobs for them, their children, and future generations.
The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Natural Resources
The Honourable Seamus O’Regan, Minister of Labour
The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion
Taking action on sustainable jobs
The future our world faces is one where Canadian workers and Canadian resources will be more in demand than ever. With a highly skilled workforce, abundant access to the natural resources and energy sources, and a thriving clean technology industry, Canada is uniquely positioned to seize the moment. To realize this opportunity, workers and members of the labour community must be at the heart of any path forward.
We need a roadmap that includes everyone – a plan based on input from Canadian workers, communities, businesses, Indigenous peoples and regions. The Government of Canada is beginning a process with this interim Sustainable Jobs Plan to do just that. This document is an interim plan for 2023-2025 that precedes and sets an initial frame for the Sustainable Jobs Action Plans that will be released every five years starting in 2025 to guide and organize efforts to support workers in the economy of the future.
In this interim plan, the Government is announcing a federal governance, engagement, and accountability framework to guide the Government’s efforts over time, and to help ensure that Canadian workers can keep leading the economy of the future. This Plan is being launched to bring together existing and planned efforts to drive progress, including measures recently announced in the 2022 Fall Economic Statement. It is intended to stimulate ongoing external input, as well as further discussions with provinces and territories, as we drive towards the development of the first complete Sustainable Jobs Action Plan in 2025.
This interim Sustainable Jobs Plan outlines 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 towards 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
In the context of this Sustainable Jobs Plan, the Government of Canada understands a ‘sustainable job’ to mean any job that is compatible with Canada’s path to a net-zero emissions and climate resilient future. The term ‘sustainable jobs’ also reflects the concept of decent, well-paying, high-quality jobs that can support workers and their families over time and includes such elements as fair income, job security, social protection, and social dialogue.Footnote 1.
While it may not be possible to develop a single metric to measure and track sustainable jobs, through this Plan, the Government of Canada will draw on relevant research, expertise and consultation with Canadians to further a Canadian definition. As the global shift to a 2050 net-zero future evolves, it will be important to develop a better understanding of the changing nature of the labour market and the variety of new skills and aptitudes the net-zero economy will require. In the coming years, it will also be important to ensure the Canadian economy keeps pace with the needs of the labour market globally and the variety of skills that will be in demand.
This Plan is informed by consultations and conversations with provinces and territories, Indigenous Peoples, workers and unions, industry, environmental and civil society organizations and Canadians over the past two years. Through this engagement, we heard that the creation of sustainable jobs will require continued dialogue with all regions of Canada, key labour partners, Indigenous leaders, civil society, industry, business leaders, skill development and educational institutions, and other stakeholders including young people and will need to evolve on the path to a 2050 net-zero economy. That is why this Plan outlines a framework for ongoing collaboration, the inclusion of expert advice, and development of regularly updated action plans and public reporting. To fulfill the Government’s commitment to establish legislation in this area and to ensure the Government’s work continues to be aligned with seizing the opportunities of a prosperous, sustainable economy, elements of this approach – focused largely on principles, advisory and accountability mechanisms – will be enshrined in a bill to be introduced in Parliament in 2023.
Charting the path for a prosperous, sustainable economy
The Government of Canada is committed to delivering this Sustainable Jobs Plan through a worker- and people-centred approach to the net-zero future that is equitable, fair and inclusive. Realizing the economic opportunities across Canada will only happen by ensuring that Canadian workers have the supports, skills, and training to succeed. This approach requires all levels of government to work together with workers and unions, Indigenous groups, industry, experts, civil society and communities to create the enabling conditions for sustainable job creation and economic prosperity across Canada. An integral part of this approach is ensuring that the unique circumstances of marginalized and underrepresented groups are addressed to ensure their full and equal participation in the economy. This Sustainable Jobs Plan also builds on the Government’s broader actions to create well-paying, high-quality jobs and grow a strong, inclusive net-zero and resilient economy. Using key levers at the federal level, the Government of Canada is taking action to accelerate sustainable job growth. 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 committed over $120 billion to climate action and environmental protection since 2016. This is in addition to investments across the Canadian economy to support workers in every sector and every field. 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 capture use and storage deployment, and green buildings.
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 other key groups and communities across the country, and also identify the skills required to realize growth opportunities across each region of the country.
The economic opportunity of Canada’s energy future
With the right plans in place, the road to a 2050 net-zero emissions economy will secure and create good, well-paying jobs for Canadians in every part of the country. In 2022, global clean energy technology activity is expected to reach $2.4 trillion USD,Footnote 2 and according to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) net-zero emissions by 2050 scenario (NZE), could create almost 40 million new jobs in clean energy by 2030. Clean Energy Canada anticipates that jobs in the clean energy sector in Canada will grow by 3.4% annually over the next decade—nearly four times faster than the Canadian average.Footnote 3.
- Clean Energy Canada suggests that Canada’s battery supply chain alone could create between 60,000 and 250,000 jobs by 2030.Footnote 4
- Columbia Institute anticipates the transition to net zero and the buildout of a net-zero grid will create a significant number of jobs for Canadian construction workers in electricity supply, smart communities, and transportation.Footnote 5
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 capture, utilization and storage, and small modular reactors Canada has a major opportunity to build a net-zero economy that works for everyone.
That is why the Government has worked over the last number of years to draft strategies, invest funds, improve regulations, and hammer out international agreements: to help Canada become the energy and technology supplier of choice in a net-zero world.
This work is being done with both a sectoral and a regional focus, in order to help ensure that each provincial and territorial economy across Canada benefits from the global transition to net-zero.
This very much includes oil-and-gas producing regions, notably Newfoundland and Labrador, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. The opportunities that have emerged in these provinces are varied and enormous, ranging from offshore wind, to solar power, hydrogen, and critical minerals. There are also very significant opportunities for sustainable jobs in conventional energy industries, enabling Canada’s producers to be low emissions suppliers of products to a world in transition.
Between now and a net-zero world in 2050, there will be continuing but declining demand for oil and gas in conventional combustion applications. Those producers globally that can offer products that have the lowest carbon production emissions will have a significant advantage in a world moving to low carbon.
Further, even in a 2050 net-zero world, according to the IEA's NZE scenario, the world will still use about 24 million barrels of oil per day in 2050 – which is about a quarter of today’s consumption.
The key difference post-2050 will be in how oil is used. We will no longer primarily use oil in combustion applications – like cars and buses. Where we will use it beyond 2050 is in mostly non-combustion applications such as petrochemicals, asphalt, lubricants, solvents, carbon graphite and waxes.
Similarly, for natural gas, the IEA’s NZE scenario forecasts global demand in 2050 of half of consumption levels today. However, uses for natural gas in a net-zero world will be for applications such as ultra-low carbon hydrogen production.
And, as noted, during the coming 30-year period of transition, while significant though declining use of hydrocarbons in combustion applications will continue to exist, those countries that focus on producing hydrocarbons with ultra-low production emissions will have a significant competitive advantage.
It is in this context that aggressively lowering emissions from the production of fossil fuels, in line with Canada’s climate commitments, is both a competitive advantage and a source of sustainable jobs – something that has been recognized by Canada’s major producers, including the Pathways Alliance and the Government of Alberta.
Meaning of the term sustainable jobs
An evergreen definition
The term 'sustainable jobs' has been increasingly used by the Government of Canada, as well as certain provinces, territories and external organizations, in the context of work on achieving what the international community refers to as ‘just transition’ for workers and the jobs of a net-zero emissions economy. The term ‘sustainable jobs’ is more appropriate in the Canadian context given that a future powered by low-carbon energy represents a generational economic opportunity for every region of this country – a shift that will secure the future of our energy sector and create more good jobs for Canadians.
In the context of this Sustainable Jobs Plan, the Government of Canada understands a ‘sustainable job’ to mean any job that is compatible with Canada’s path to a net-zero emissions and climate resilient future. The term ‘sustainable jobs’ also reflects the concept of decent, well-paying, high-quality jobs that can support workers and their families over time and includes such elements as fair income, job security, social protection, and social dialogue.Footnote 6 While it may not be possible to develop a single metric to measure and track sustainable jobs, through this Plan, the Government of Canada will draw on relevant research, expertise and consultation with Canadians to further a Canadian definition. As the global shift to a 2050 net-zero future evolves, it will be important to develop a better understanding of the changing nature of the labour market and the variety of new skills and aptitudes the net-zero economy will require.
In the coming years, it will also be important to ensure the Canadian economy keeps pace with the needs of the labour market globally and the variety of skills that will be in demand. Over time, concepts around ‘energy transition’ and ‘sustainable’ will continue to evolve. With that in mind, the formal definition of sustainable jobs will remain evergreen in order to evolve over time through consultation with key partners and the public.
The concept of “just transition” was developed by the North American trade unions movement in the 1970s to encompass a range of social interventions needed to secure workers' rights and livelihoods during a fundamental shift in economic and environmental practices.
The language of ‘just transition’ has been adopted into dialogues led primarily by the labour movement to ensure that actions surrounding climate change equally include protections and accommodations for workers. In 2015, the International Labour Organization (ILO) adopted guidelines, negotiated between governments, employers, and their organisations, as well as workers and their Trade Unions, regarding the term “just transition”. It describes it as a process “towards an environmentally sustainable economy”, focused on “to the goals of decent work for all, social inclusion and the eradication of poverty”. The ILO acknowledges that there is no “one size fits all” approach, and that policies and programs need to be designed in line with country-specific conditions, including their stage of development, range of economic sectors and the types and sizes of their enterprises.Footnote 7
Countries and jurisdictions worldwide have adopted their own unique approaches to ensuring a worker-centered approach to their climate action and economic diversification, including the UK, Scotland, New Zealand, the EU, Norway, and New York State. Work is underway internationally to position jurisdictions to compete – for example, the United States’ ambitious Inflation Reduction Act, Norway’s Strategy for Green Competitiveness, the UK’s Net-Zero Strategy and New York State’s Climate Justice Working Group. Canada and our industries need to be right there alongside global leaders to attract global investment for decades to come.
Here in Canada, the global energy transition presents an enormous economic, job-creating opportunity across the country – for those in both conventional and emerging energy and energy related fields. The term “sustainable jobs” is, in our minds, one that is more inclusive and indeed more accurate for Canada than terms like “just transition”.
Key sectors for sustainable jobs
A net-zero emissions economy offers enormous potential to support the creation of good, well-paying jobs and careers in every region of Canada. Our conventional energy sectors will continue to be a significant driver of economic opportunity.
In addition, low-carbon and non-emitting energy sources are ramping up to meet growing demands. Emerging energy sources present significant opportunities for Canadian workers as jobs are created in sectors across the country.
It is very important to note that in many cases, sustainable jobs involve utilizing skills that Canadians workers already possess. For example, work at a biofuels plant or hydrogen production facility utilizing carbon capture technology will be very similar to jobs at an existing refinery or large-scale gas facility. Similarly, the workers and skills required for retrofitting existing building stock to enhance energy efficiency will be essentially the same as those that construction workers presently possess. In fact, not only will these skills stay largely the same, they will be in even greater demand than has been the case to date.
There will be some areas where training will be important as workers look to fill demand in new and growing roles and sectors. And here we will need to ensure appropriate training and supports are available.
According to numerous studies, rather than a shortage of jobs, in Canada we are much more likely to see an abundance of sustainable jobs with a shortage of workers required to fill them.Footnote 8Footnote 9 In these cases, it is critical that workers have access to the training opportunities needed to support their full and prosperous participation in a net-zero economy. Improving diversity in the green economy through educational, financial, linguistic, and professional supports would have a meaningful impact in sectors like electric power generation, construction, and urban transit systems, as many equity seeking groups are currently underrepresented in these key growth areas.Footnote 10 Similarly, employer-funded skills training, financial supports for workers looking to retrain, and the availability of opportunities based on skills similarity and skill level are strategies that can be implemented to help ensure that the workforce remains able to access the training they need to be successful in the sustainable jobs of today and tomorrow.Footnote 11
Progress to date
Federal investments to advance a sustainable economy
The first steps to support the creation of sustainable jobs across Canada are investing in industries and technologies, and sending clear policy signals that Canada is serious about building this future for workers. Since 2015, the Government of Canada has done both, working alongside provinces, territories, Indigenous Peoples, and a wide variety of non-governmental organizations and experts.
The 2016 Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, the first climate plan in Canada’s history to include actions by federal, provincial, and territorial governments. The plan introduced a pan-Canadian approach to pricing pollution, and measures to ensure Canadian businesses are competitive in the global economy of the future.
In December 2020, the Government of Canada reinforced its commitments with the release of a, Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy, followed by the 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan in spring 2022. With each of these plans the Government of Canada has worked closely with provinces, territories, Indigenous Peoples, and a wide variety of non-governmental organizations and experts to produce policies and programs that will reduce emissions and generate economic activity that will benefit communities, workers, industry and families in all regions of the country.
Alongside key policies such as the 2016 Pan-Canadian Framework, the 2020 Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy, in 2030, and the Emissions Reduction Plan, the Government of Canada has been making foundational investments in measures to reduce emissions, drive clean growth, promote investment and innovation, protect the environment, all of which spurs the creation of sustainable jobs. Since 2015, the Government of Canada has earmarked $120 billion in investments on this front:
- The $33 billion Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program, which includes streams for green infrastructure; public transit; community, culture and recreational infrastructure; and rural and northern community infrastructure.
- The $8 billion Net-Zero Accelerator that supports large-scale investments in key industrial sectors across the country to ensure that Canada remains competitive in a net-zero economy and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
- The $35 billion Canada Infrastructure Bank, which has already invested $7.6 billion in projects across its five priority investment areas: clean power, public transit, green infrastructure, broadband and trade and transportation infrastructure.
- The $1.5 billion Clean Fuels Fund to grow the production of clean fuels in Canada, such as hydrogen, renewable diesel and natural gas, cellulosic ethanol, synthetic fuels and sustainable aviation fuel.
- More than $2 billion on the Orphan and Inactive Wells Program and Emissions Reduction Fund to accelerate the clean up of orphan and inactive oil and gas wells, and incent investments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and retain jobs through the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The $1.56 billion Smart Renewables and Electrification Pathways Program that funds renewable energy, energy storage and grid modernization projects across Canada and is helping to transform our electricity grid to meet our 2030 climate targets.
- The $3.8 billion Critical Minerals Strategy announced in Budget 2022.
- Sustainable Technology Development Canada, which has invested over $1.38 billion since 2001 in 460 companies with the potential to transform the environmental and economic prosperity of Canada.
- The Low Carbon Economy Fund, which supports projects that help to reduce Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions, generate clean growth, build resilient communities, and create good jobs for Canadians. Budget 2022 announced a $2.2 billion recapitalization of the program through to 2028-29, which will incorporate a new $180 million Indigenous Leadership Fund.
The Government of Canada has also committed to introducing the Futures Fund to implement place-based strategies to drive economic growth, diversification and stimulate job creation. Announced in the 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan and Budget 2022, the Futures Fund for Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador will support workers and communities and local and regional economies.
In addition to these investments, the Government of Canada has developed targeted tax measures that equally work to support the creation of sustainable jobs, including:
- First announced in Budget 2021, an Investment Tax Credit for Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage where the amount is determined by the type of equipment modified by the ratio of CO2 expected to be stored via eligible uses.
- A new Critical Mineral Exploration Tax Credit announced in Budget 2022 for specified mineral exploration expenses incurred in Canada.
- The new Investment Tax Credits for Clean Hydrogen and Clean Technologies announced in the 2022 Fall Economic Statement. Labour conditions will be attached to these investment tax credits, including requirements to pay prevailing wages based on local labour market conditions and create apprenticeship training opportunities. Further details of these tax credits and labour conditions will be announced in Budget 2023.
Phase-out of unabated coal-fired power generation
A key first step making possible a net-zero world by 2050 is the recognition, in Canada and in most countries around the world, that unabated coal fired power generation needed to be eliminated by 2030.
Canada made such a commitment in the 2016 climate plan. Following its release, the Government has focused on supporting Canadian coal workers and communities that could be affected by the phase out of unabated coal-fired power generation. This included establishing A Just Transition Task Force for Canadian Coal Power Workers and Communities as an independent body to provide advice to the Government.
The Task Force’s 2019 report helped to inform the Government’s approach, which includes $185 million to support economic diversification and skills development for coal workers in 15 affected communities and economic regions in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. This includes $35 million (for 5 years until the March 31, 2023) in Budget 2018 to support skills development and economic diversification activities through the Canada Coal Transition Initiative.
Budget 2019 committed $150 million (for five years until March 31, 2025) towards a dedicated infrastructure fund to support priority projects and economic diversification in impacted communities.
As of January 2023, approximately $94.5 million has been approved for 101 projects across New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan and Alberta. Canada’s Regional Development Agencies were instrumental in the delivery of the Canada Coal Transition Initiative, which included the use of Economic Development Officers located in the communities to support its implementation. The work of this Initiative, and the Government of Canada on the unabated coal phase-out more broadly, are ongoing and will continue to involve active discussions with provinces, territories and Indigenous communities.
It should be noted that the coal transition is unique. Whereas the Government of Canada – along with many other countries within the Powering Past Coal Alliance – is committed to phasing-out unabated coal-fired electricity, this is not the approach that Canada and many other countries are taking with regard to other conventional sources of energy. As the International Energy Agency’s net-zero scenario makes clear, the production and use of oil and gas will continue for many decades on the path to net-zero – and low-carbon producers will be essential to ensuring ongoing reductions in carbon emissions.
Further, the IEA underlines the importance during this transition and beyond of a shift to non-combustion applications of oil and gas. The traditional energy sector will be the birthplace of the fuels of the future – including biofuels and the production of low-carbon hydrogen – and will, post net-zero in 2050, continue to provide critical non combustion products including solvents, waxes, petrochemicals, and lubricants.
Canada’s approach to the low-carbon transition is certainly very much about emissions reductions. But it is also about seizing key economic opportunities enabled through a transition to a low-carbon future. It is thus very much about job creation, workforce development, and economic growth across this great country.
Targeted support for Canadian workers and communities
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.Footnote 12 Such investments include:
- $960 million over 3 years to the Sectoral Workforce Solutions Program, to help key economic sectors, including sectors contributing to the low-carbon economy, implement solutions to address current and emerging workforce needs, such as connecting workers with the training they need to access good jobs and help employers attract and retain a skilled a diverse workforce.
- $55 million over 2 years to the Community Workforce Development Program, to help communities develop local workforce plans that identify high growth areas and connect employers and training providers to upskill and reskill jobseekers and workers to fill emerging jobs.
- $25 million annually – as well as additional investments under the 2022 Fall Economic Statement – to the Union Training and Innovation Program, to support union-based apprenticeship training, innovation and enhanced partnerships in the Red Seal trades.
- The Skills Partnership Fund, a project-based fund that supports partnerships between Indigenous organizations and industry employers to provide skills training for Indigenous Peoples.
- $272 million over 5 years, for the Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities, which assists persons with disabilities to prepare for, obtain and maintain employment. It supports persons with disabilities in overcoming barriers to participation in the Canadian labour market, and it supports employers to hire persons with disabilities. The Government of Canada is investing to ensure that people with disabilities are not disproportionately excluded from the opportunities associated with market transformation.Footnote 13
- $250 million over 3 years for the Upskilling for Industry Initiative to scale up proven industry-led, third-party delivered approaches to upskilling and redeploying workers across high-growth sectors, including clean technologies.
In addition, Canada has a strong income-support system, including employment insurance (EI). Temporary measures announced in Budget 2021 helped facilitate greater access to a more simplified EI program for Canadians during the pandemic and subsequent waves of unemployment. In summer 2022, Canada concluded its two-year consultations with workers, employers and academics on the design of a modernized EI program that better meets the current and future needs of workers and employers. A comprehensive plan for the future of the EI program is being developed that incorporates results from these consultations and lessons learned from the pandemic.
Federal actions to support the creation of sustainable jobs in every region of Canada
By responding to what we heard from provinces, territories, partners and stakeholders, and incorporating global best practices, this Sustainable Jobs Plan details a suite of 10 concrete actions to advance the creation of sustainable jobs and support workers in every part of Canada.
1. Establish the Sustainable Jobs Secretariat
The 2022 Fall Economic Statement proposed providing $250 million over five years to Employment and Social Development Canada to help ensure Canadian workers can thrive in a changing global economy. This funding will be directed towards a Sustainable Jobs Secretariat, a new sustainable jobs stream under the Union Training and Innovation Program, as well as a Sustainable Jobs Training Centre.
The development of a central and expert-driven governance structure was among the most important best practices from other jurisdictions and recommendations made throughout the public consultations. Establishing a Sustainable Jobs Secretariat will provide leadership and allow for a whole-of-Government approach on sustainable jobs measures. It will also ensure coordination of federal policies and programs among Government departments, and implementation of forthcoming Sustainable Jobs Action Plans.
As announced in the 2022 Fall Economic Statement, the Secretariat will offer a one-stop shop for workers and employers and provide the most up to date information on federal programs, funding, and services across government departments. Furthermore, it will enable critical engagement, including with provinces and territories, as Sustainable Jobs Action Plans are developed.
Further details of the Sustainable Jobs Secretariat will be released in 2023.
2. Create a Sustainable Jobs Partnership Council
A key pillar of supporting an inclusive and equitable future includes ensuring workers and their communities are empowered on decisions that affect their future. Social dialogue – bringing together government, workers, and industry through sustained dialogue, along with other key partners and stakeholders – promotes policy coherence to ensure that climate action also results in job creation and community prosperity.
To support this engagement, the proposed sustainable jobs legislation will establish a permanent Sustainable Jobs Partnership Council, previously referred to as an “Advisory Body”. Reflecting feedback received during consultations, the Council will involve a ‘tripartite-plus’ governance approach based on social dialogue between governments, employers and labour, with additional consultation that includes relevant and affected stakeholders, such as civil society and trade associations. The Partnership Council would also undertake engagement with stakeholders and partners across all regions of Canada, including rural and remote communities, in order to provide its advice. Further details on this organization will be provided in 2023. The Council would have opportunities to provide meaningful input to inform the policy and program development process, similar to how the Net-Zero Advisory Body provides advice to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change with respect to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.
The Council will be a driving force in ensuring the government’s actions equip Canadian workers to thrive in a net-zero emissions economy, and will undertake robust engagement with Canadians, producing annual advice to Government and working in collaboration with other relevant entities such as the Net-Zero Advisory Body. The Council would be established following Royal Assent of the Sustainable Jobs legislation.
The Council will have 2 core functions:
- Provide independent and ongoing advice to Government on the most effective measures to encourage the creation of sustainable jobs and to support workers and communities in the transition to a net-zero economy. The Council will regularly meet with government officials and will submit an annual report to the lead minister.
- Conduct sustained engagement with workers, unions, industry and Canadians more broadly as part of the social dialogue underpinning the Government’s sustainable jobs approach across all regions of Canada. This engagement will inform the Council’s advice and promote cooperation on sustainable jobs through consultations and an exchange of information between the Council and those implicated, such as workers, communities, and industry, essential components of a social dialogue.
Engagement with key stakeholders will continue regarding the terms of reference, composition and functions of the Sustainable Jobs Partnership Council and further details will be released in 2023.
3. Develop economic strategies through the Regional Energy and Resource Tables
Announced in Budget 2022, the Regional Energy and Resource Tables (Regional Tables) are a collaborative initiative that brings the federal, provincial and territorial governments together with Indigenous partners, union partners, workers, municipalities, industry, experts and civil society to advance the top economic priorities in the energy and resource sectors in each of Canada’s regions. The Regional Tables involve the collaborative development of place-based economic strategies that will identify, prioritize and pursue opportunities for sustainable job creation and economic growth driven by clean energy and resource sectors.
To build a net-zero economy by 2050, the Royal Bank of Canada estimates that Canada will need investments of $60 billion per year from the public and private sectors.Footnote 14 The Regional Tables aim to align priorities, funding and financing opportunities, as well as policy and regulatory approaches across governments and other partners to attract capital that will accelerate economic activity and position every region in Canada to lead in areas where they have, or can reasonably create, comparative advantage in the net-zero future. By collectively identifying and advancing top growth opportunities, both public dollars and private capital can be strategically directed with maximum effect for economic growth, reconciliation, emissions reductions, diversity and equity, and sustainable job creation. The priorities identified in these plans will provide an opportunity to align top provincial and territorial priorities and Government of Canada programs, regulatory and funding instruments, while simultaneously working towards improving the transparency, predictability, and efficiency of federal and provincial assessment, authorization, and permitting processes in support of accelerating the advancement of low-carbon projects.
The goal of these tables will be to work with provincial and territorial governments, Indigenous groups and other partners in identifying a set of concrete actions and developing economic strategies to capitalize on the most significant economic opportunities within the energy, resource and resource-enabled sectors in each province or territory. These regionally specific opportunities will accelerate growth and create the sustainable jobs of the future. Across Canada, regional growth opportunities are likely to come through increased demand for traditional goods produced in an ultra low-carbon manner and aligned with a net-zero emissions future - from oil and gas resources to low-carbon steel and aluminum. Opportunities will also come from new uses for existing resources, new technologies – like carbon capture and storage– applied to existing sectors, and new products and processes that enable a low-carbon future – such as critical minerals, clean hydrogen, small modular reactors, negative emissions technologies, renewable energy, biofuels, electric cars and buses, and battery technology. Multiple federal departments and agencies are involved in this work, including the Regional Development Agencies, which will support the strategies using local knowledge and expertise.
The Regional Tables will inform Canada’s approach to supporting workers and communities and creating sustainable jobs, as well as co-operatively and collaboratively developing economic strategies that reflect Canada’s regional diversity. These strategies will also seek input from labour organizations and workers, businesses, and governments with respect to the job opportunities created by a net-zero transition and additional tools that can support workers, such as community benefit agreements.
The Regional Tables are being established in a phased approach:
- Budget 2022 provided $25 million to Natural Resources Canada to work with provinces, territories, and relevant stakeholders to develop plans for low-carbon economic growth.
- Phase 1 launched on June 1, 2022 with British Columbia, Manitoba and Newfoundland and Labrador
- Phase 2 launched on October 13, 2022 with New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, the Northwest Territories and Yukon.
- Phase 3 launched on October 25, 2022 with Ontario.
- In December 2022 and January 2023, four introductory meetings with national labour and industry associations were held to provide them with an update on progress and seek preliminary views.
- We are working to launch Tables with Alberta, Saskatchewan, Quebec and Nunavut in 2023, having been in discussion with counterparts in these jurisdictions since summer 2022.
The initial step involves the federal and provincial/territorial governments, together with Indigenous communities, and in consultation with labour unions and partners, and industry, identifying actions to pursue the most promising, high-impact opportunities for a net-zero economy. These actions represent tangible steps that can be taken over the coming years to achieve progress in securing provinces and territories’ competitive advantage in those high-potential sectors by aligning resources, priorities, regulatory processes, etc. Building on this work, broader engagement and analysis will be purposed to support the development of economic strategies that will lay out the measures and milestones for long-term success and sustainable jobs for generations to come.
The role of Canada’s regional development agencies
In their respective regions, Canada’s seven regional development agencies (RDAs) contribute to building a net-zero economy and creating sustainable jobs by supporting clean technology development, economic diversification, as well as the green transformation of small and medium-sized enterprises and communities across Canada. Specific examples of RDA support for the Sustainable Jobs Plan include the following:
- Pacific Economic Development Canada (PacifiCan) contributes to the creation of sustainable jobs and clean growth in British Columbia through strategic investments that increase productivity and support innovation, including through clean technology and clean resource projects. Since April 2016, more than $133 million in funding was approved for 90 clean technology and clean resource projects in British Columbia, including investments in both established and emerging sectors, supporting businesses and community organizations in areas such as hydrogen fuel cell technology, water and waste management, renewable energy and energy efficiency, and the circular economy.
- Prairies Economic Development Canada (PrairiesCan) is helping to grow Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba’s economies, supporting strong and innovative businesses and communities. This includes initiatives that are building new sources of value in emerging sectors such as value-added agriculture, advanced manufacturing, digital industries, and clean technology. Since 2016, PrairiesCan has supported 131 clean technology and clean resource projects that are expected to create over 5,000 jobs.
- The Federal Economic Development Agency for Northern Ontario (FedNor) uses place-based solutions to contribute to the creation of sustainable jobs and clean growth through strategic investments that increase productivity and support innovation, including through clean technology and clean resource projects. Since 2016, FedNor has contributed to 21 clean technology projects investing over $8 million.
- Southern Ontario is home to an increasingly innovation-driven economy and clean technology and sustainability are important growth opportunities for the region. The Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario has made targeted investments to create new jobs in the region. Since 2015, the Agency has invested more than $200 million in the clean technology components of projects that help SMEs across the region innovate and grow. For example, the Agency recently supported a project with Invest Windsor-Essex to transform Canada’s largest traditional automotive manufacturing cluster, and in the Sarnia area is supporting the sustainable chemistry and clean fuels hub through projects with Bioindustrial Innovation Canada.
- As part of its mission to promote the long-term economic development across Quebec, Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions (CED) supports SME projects and the ecosystems that serve them that contribute directly to the creation or maintenance of sustainable jobs that are relevant to the economy of tomorrow. This is achieved in particular by supporting clean technology projects, in which CED invested over $235 million since 2016-17. Notably, CED directly supports businesses that create sustainable jobs by commercializing clean technologies or innovating through green products, processes and practices. In December 2022, the CED announced a plan to provide customized services for businesses to assist them in their adoption of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices.
- Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency’s (ACOA) place-based strategies and investments, as well as its close working relationship with economic stakeholders, combine to create green jobs, support innovation, and help green firms grow in the region, while diversifying the region’s economy. This includes investments in excess of $230 million in over 600 cleantech projects across Atlantic provinces in areas such as small modular reactors, smart grids, food, smart technologies, batteries and zero-emissions transportation, including marine vessels. ACOA is also contributing to an Indigenous Clean Energy in Atlantic Canada Initiative to support Indigenous clean energy priorities in the region, in partnership with Indigenous Services Canada (ISC).
- The Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor) works with Northerners and Indigenous Peoples, communities, businesses, organizations, other federal departments and other orders of government to help build diversified and dynamic economies that foster long-term sustainability and economic prosperity across the three territories. Two projects CanNor has recently supported include, Cheetah Resources Ltd.’s Nechalacho Rare Earth Demonstration Project in the Northwest Territories, to advance the sustainable mining of critical minerals, that are needed to move Canada to a net-zero economy, and supporting the Vuntut Gwitchin-led solar project Sree Vyàa, which is the largest solar energy project of its kind in a remote Yukon community.
4. Introduce a sustainable jobs stream under the Union Training and Innovation Program
Workers’ skills and dedication will be essential to meeting demand for sustainable jobs in Canada, so training is core to this Plan.
Launched in 2017-18, the Government’s Union Training and Innovation Program (UTIP) has provided $25 million annually to union-based apprenticeship training, innovation and enhanced partnerships in the Red Seal trades through two streams of funding. In spring 2022, permanent funding for the Program was doubled, to $50 million annually. In addition, the 2022 Fall Economic Statement announced a new Sustainable Jobs Stream under the UTIP to support unions in leading the development of green skills training for workers in the trades. This is a component of the proposed $250 million investment to help Canadian workers thrive in the economy of the future. It is expected that an additional 20,000 apprentices and journeypersons would benefit from this investment.
This new stream complements the existing Innovation in Training Equipment UTIP Stream, which provides unions with up to 50% of the costs of new, up-to-date equipment and materials that meet industry standards or investments in technology in the Red Seal trades. The UTIP’s Innovation in Apprenticeship Stream provides support for innovative approaches and enhanced partnerships to address long-standing challenges limiting apprenticeship outcomes. Recently, both streams included a priority to support the low-carbon economy.
5. Advance funding for skills development towards sustainable jobs
Investing in Canada’s workforce through training and skills development is critical to create and secure jobs for Canadians for generations to come. There are distinct partners who play an important role in workforce development such as universities and colleges, union training centres and employer groups that seek to ensure Canadian workers are set up to succeed in the net-zero economy. Furthermore, youth entering the job market will be amongst the key drivers entering Canada’s economy, ensuring a diverse and resilient workforce for decades to come.
To support Canadian job-seekers and workers of all ages from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds and employers agile training and support systems are needed. This will be complemented by timely labour market information alongside ongoing stakeholder engagement that will facilitate an environment of information sharing helping get workers the skills they want and need.
The 2022 Fall Economic Statement presented funding to ESDC to create the Sustainable Jobs Training Centre. This is also a component of the proposed $250 million investment to help Canadian workers thrive in the economy of the future. The Centre seeks to bring together workers, unions, employers, and training institutions to examine the skills of the labour force today, forecast future skills requirements to help 15,000 workers upgrade or gain new skills.
The 2022 Fall Economic Statement also presented support for youth—particularly those from marginalized communities—with the support and opportunities they need to develop the skills required to find and keep good jobs. The Government of Canada is investing $802.1 million over 3 years, starting in 2022-23, to the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy. This includes:
- $301.4 million over two years, starting in 2023-24, through the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy Program, to provide wraparound supports and job placements to young people facing employment barriers,
- $400.5 million over two years, starting in 2023-24, to Canada Summer Jobs to support a total of approximately 70,000 annual summer job placements; and,
- $100.2 million over three years, starting in 2022-23, to continue supporting work placements for First Nations youth through the Income Assistance-First Nations Youth Employment Strategy Pilot.
In addition to these measures, the Government of Canada, through Employment and Social Development Canada and Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada, has a broader suite of programming that is investing support for workers. This includes:
- Approximately $3 billion annually to Labour Market Transfer Agreements for individuals and employers to obtain skills training and employment supports. These investments are delivered through bilateral agreements with the provinces and territories, and include Labour Market Development Agreements and Workforce Development Agreements;
- $960 million over 3 years to the Sectoral Workforce Solutions Program to help key sectors of the economy, including sectors contributing to the low-carbon economy, implement solutions to address their current and emerging workforce needs, including through training and reskilling to help workers gain new skills for in-demand jobs;
- $55 million over 2 years to the Community Workforce Development Program to help communities develop local workforce development plans that identify high growth areas and connect employers and training providers to upskill and reskill jobseekers and workers to fill emerging jobs. The program is a pilot that will test innovative community-based approaches that aim to address national and regional priorities such as decarbonisation and supporting workers in key sectors such as energy;
- $50 million annually for the Skills Partnership Fund, a project-based fund that supports partnerships between Indigenous organizations and industry employers to provide skills training for Indigenous peoples. The most recent call for proposals included the green economy as a priority area; and
- $250 million over 3 years in Upskilling for Industry Initiative to scale-up proven industry-led, third-party delivered approaches to upskill and redeploy approximately 15,500 workers to meet the needs businesses in high-growth sectors (e.g., digital technology, cyber security, agriculture technology, advanced manufacturing, clean technology, and biomanufacturing).
6. Promote Indigenous-led solutions and a National Benefits-Sharing Framework
Advancing reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples – including economic reconciliation – will be critical to accelerating Canada’s net-zero transition and enabling an equitable, inclusive and sustainable future for all Canadians.
To this end, the Government will continue to support Indigenous-owned clean energy projects across Canada, which hold the potential to be a significant driver for the growth of sustainable jobs and long-term economic opportunities for communities across Canada. For example, the Government, in conjunction with the province of British Columbia, have provided funding to support the Tu Deh-Kah Geothermal project. This $100 million initiative, located in Fort Nelson First Nation, is 100 per cent owned by the community. The project will see the Clarke Lake gas field converted into one of Canada’s first commercially viable geothermal energy production facilities, and will produce enough electricity to serve approximately 10,000 homes while providing economic benefits to Fort Nelson for years to come.
Another key way the Government is promoting Indigenous-led solutions as well as increased Indigenous participation in the natural resource sector is through a National Benefits-Sharing Framework (NBSF). The Government recognizes that barriers persist that prevent Indigenous peoples from unlocking opportunities associated with natural resource development and the transition to a climate resilient economy. This framework, which will be developed following engagement with Indigenous partners, industry, and provinces and territories, will seek to ensure that First Nations and Métis communities directly benefit from major resource projects – including renewable energy projects – in their territories, and that Inuit communities benefit from major resource projects in Inuit Nunangat. Engagement is ongoing to develop specific aspects of the framework, which is planned to be released in 2024. During preliminary engagements, Indigenous partners stressed the importance of Indigenous communities’ involvement in individual project governance (including through equity partnerships), the need for capacity supports to assess and participate in projects, the need to address barriers in accessing capital, and a desire for greater consistency of benefits received from projects. Engagements will continue throughout 2023 to identify potential paths of action to address these barriers, including skills building and employment opportunities. The Framework will support the objectives of Canada’s implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including free, prior, and informed consent.
In addition to the NBSF, a broader array of initiatives is contributing to the creation of sustainable jobs within Indigenous communities, ensuring they can lean on and benefit from a net-zero future:
- The Canadian Infrastructure Bank launched the Indigenous Community Infrastructure Initiative (ICII), which will enable the building of new infrastructure projects in Indigenous communities through at least $1 billion invested across priority sectors.
- Budget 2022 allocated $100 million over five years, starting in 2022-23, to renew and expand the Indigenous Partnerships Office (IPO) and the Indigenous Natural Resource Partnerships (INRP) Program. At least $25 million of this funding is to be dedicated to early engagement and Indigenous communities’ capacity building to support their participation in the critical minerals sector. Through a renewed and expanded IPO and INRP, NRCan will continue to support the development of a sustainable and inclusive natural resource sector, and advance economic reconciliation and meaningful partnerships with Indigenous communities across Canada.
- The Emissions Reduction Plan and Budget 2022 announced $29.6 million over 3 years for the co-development of an Indigenous Climate Leadership Agenda to support self-determined action in addressing Indigenous Peoples’ climate priorities. The funding will also support the phased implementation of distinctions-based climate strategies.
- Budget 2022 is investing up to $3.8 billion for the Canadian Critical Minerals Strategy, including at least $25 million to support Indigenous participation in the Critical Minerals Strategy through early engagement and community capacity building.
- With $35 million over six years (2017-23), Natural Resources Canada’s Indigenous Forestry Initiative (IFI) contributes to economic self-determination and reconciliation by supporting business and capacity development activities, Indigenous-led projects, and Indigenous-owned businesses in the forest sector.
- NRCan’s Indigenous Off-Diesel Initiative supports 14 Indigenous clean energy champions and their communities and has provided over $28 million for community clean energy planning, engagement, and implementing projects. These investments support capacity-building and skills development.
- NRCan’s Smart Renewables and Electrification Pathways Program (SREPs) provides up to $1.564 billion over eight years for smart renewable energy and electrical grid modernization projects. The Program aims to decrease barriers to participation for those underrepresented in the energy sector, including but not limited to women, gender-diverse people, Indigenous peoples, racialized communities and persons with disabilities. This includes a minimum allotment of Program funds to support projects owned by First Nations, Inuit and Métis.
7. Improve labour market data collection, tracking and analysis
The scale and scope of research and analysis being undertaken on the global net-zero future has grown tremendously in recent years. In conversations and consultations with key partners and stakeholders, however, the need for a more robust and comprehensive approach to data collection, particularly when it comes to future workforce supply, demand, and gaps has been cited. One of the major challenges in labour force data collection in the energy sector is that many Canadians hold jobs related to the energy sector but are not captured by the energy sector’s direct and indirect employment statistics. These jobs include activities like energy efficiency, building retrofits, and jobs contributing to the electric vehicle supply chain. Traditionally, specialized studies have often been required to shed light on these related sectors.
This plan will support improving collection, measurement and reporting of data and indicators that can help to track the creation of sustainable jobs across Canada, including in partnership with Statistics Canada. Plans include:
- Identifying what data is currently tracked across the federal government and other accessible sources, including information related to equity and diversity, and where the gaps are, including data derived from programming.
- Leveraging ongoing work happening across the federal government and other relevant partners to address gaps, including the need for Indigenous-specific metrics that are shared transparently with indigenous communities.
- Supporting continued investment in internal and external research and data developments to improve understanding of current and future labour market conditions.
This work will support the Government and the Sustainable Jobs Partnership Council by helping them provide advice and identify new measures and actions that need to be taken. Efforts will be made to share this data in a useful way to ensure it can be used by those making decisions related to sustainable jobs, including workers, employers, and skills training organizations. These indicators may change over time as net-zero pathways are decided and the skills and occupations needed at different points change.
8. Motivate investors and draw in industry leadership to support workers
To build a strong, net-zero future, the business community requires co-investment, policy certainty, access to talent and robust data. Since 2016, Canada has committed approximately $120 billion towards green infrastructure, clean technologies, climate action, and environmental protection, providing a clear signal to businesses and investors that net-zero economic growth is a federal priority. This focus on historic investments is in line with what is being done by Canada’s partners around the world, including with the Inflation Reduction Act in the United States and the Green Deal in the European Union.
Reaching a low-carbon economy and net-zero emissions by 2050 will require substantial investment beyond the public sector. Private sector capital and expertise will be needed Attaching strong labour conditions to tax credits will help ensure jobs created in the energy transition are what Canadian workers deserve – well-paying and high-quality. Sustainable finance refers to financial activities that consider environmental, social and governance factors. Sustainable finance initiatives can help crowd-in needed private investment and amplify existing climate policy signals in a business-friendly manner. Sustainable finance also enables the mobilization and alignment of private sector investments towards climate and environmental objectives and promotes a strong and healthy economic future in the face of climate risk.
The Sustainable Finance Action Council (SFAC) is bringing together Canadian deposit-taking institutions, insurance companies and pension funds to help lead the Canadian financial sector towards integrating sustainable finance into standard industry practice.
Recognizing the importance of developing and adopting cleantech in achieving Canada’s clean growth objectives, the 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan commits to a strengthened and coordinated whole-of-government strategy for accelerating the development and deployment of clean technologies. Toward this goal, Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada is undertaking dedicated work with proponents and leveraging government instruments, including the Strategic Innovation Fund’s $8 billion Net-Zero Accelerator (NZA), which is drawing in significant investment from the private sector, to lower emissions of existing operations or new projects. The Futures Fund in particular will be an important early enabler.
In addition, through Budgets 2021 and 2022 and the 2022 Fall Economic Statement the Government introduced several tax measures, many of which introduced conditional labour protection requirements:
- Budget 2022 announced $15 billion Canada Growth Fund, an arm’s length Government investment fund that will catalyze substantial private sector investment in Canadian businesses and projects and grow Canada’s economy at speed and scale on the path to net-zero. The Fund’s investments will help meet important national economic and climate policy goals, including scaling up companies that will create jobs, drive productivity and clean growth across new and traditional sectors of Canada’s industrial base.
- Budget 2021 announced the development of an Investment Tax Credit for Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage (CCUS), which will apply to CCUS projects that permanently store captured CO2 via dedicated geological storage or storage of CO2 in concrete.
- Budget 2022 proposes the introduction of a new 30% Critical Mineral Exploration Tax Credit for specified mineral exploration expenses incurred in Canada.
- Budget 2022 broadened the role of the Canada Infrastructure Bank by providing the Bank with authorities to invest in private sector-led infrastructure projects that accelerated progress towards Canada’s low-carbon economy enabling the Bank to consider investments in small modular reactors; hydrogen and clean fuel production; transportation and distribution; and carbon capture, utilization and storage.
- The 2022 Fall Economic Statement proposes a refundable tax credit equal to 30 per cent of the capital cost of investments in clean technologies. To incentivize companies to create sustainable jobs, those that adhere to certain labour conditions will be eligible for the full 30 per cent credit, while those that do not will only be eligible for a lower credit. Labour conditions will include paying prevailing wages based on local labour market conditions and ensuring that apprenticeship training opportunities are being created. As proposed, the investment tax credit is expected to cost $6.7 billion over 5 years, starting in 2023-24.
- In the 2022 Fall Economic Statement, the government is proceeding with its commitment, announced in Budget 2022, to establish an investment tax credit to support investments in clean hydrogen production. The credit will depend on whether certain labour protection requirements are met, again promoting the good jobs Canadian workers deserve.
9. Collaborate and lead on the global stage
International collaboration is essential to creating sustainable jobs – here in Canada and around the world. This includes the bilateral and multilateral sharing of best practices and lessons learned in the development of national labour forces that are net-zero ready. Canada is participating and leading in several existing and planned initiatives to advance this information sharing and ensure that all nations, and all peoples, have a real and meaningful opportunity to share in the benefits of a sustainable, prosperous future.
- In December 2015, Canada played a leadership role in reaching a historic agreement with 194 Parties in Paris to address climate change. The Paris Agreement aims to limit the global temperature increase to well below 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels, and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees, and recognizes the importance of equity for workers. The Government is committed to meeting and exceeding its 2030 emissions reduction target of 40% below 2005 levels by 2030.
- As a founding member of the International Labour Organization and member of the International Labour Organization’s governing body, Canada has played an active and constructive role since the formation of the International Labour Organization in 1919, and remains committed to promoting and upholding its decent work agenda. Canada is co-leading the Equality in Energy Transitions Initiative to advance gender equality in the global energy sector.
- Canada also leads the Equal by 30 Campaign, which encourages voluntary commitments by both public- and private-sector organisations to work toward equal pay, equal leadership and equal opportunities for women and other marginalized groups in the international energy sector by 2030. This includes women and gender-diverse people from historically marginalized backgrounds.
- In 2021, Canada participated in the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) Global Commission on People-Centred Clean Energy Transitions.
- In 2021, Canada launched the Empowering People Initiative (EPI) with the US and European Commission to advance skills and workforce development in clean energy. The EPI partnered with the IEA to launch a joint report which supports countries interested in adopting the Global Commission’s recommendations and committing to their implementation.
- In 2022, Canada participated in the IEA’s High Level Advisory Group on Coal in Net-Zero Transitions, helping to shape the final report.
- In November 2022 at the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the High-Level Expert Group on Net-Zero Commitment of Non-State Actors launched a report proposing 10 recommendations to businesses, financial institutions, cities and regions to ensure high, credible, and accountable net-zero emission pledges. The report focuses on four key areas: environmental integrity, credibility, accountability and the role of governments.
10. Establish legislation that ensures ongoing engagement and accountability
In 2019, the Government committed to introduce legislation to support the future and livelihood of workers and their communities in a low-carbon economy. This commitment was made to ensure the Government has the necessary federal policy architecture in place to build a strong, resilient economy that works for everyone. It also aligns with recommendations from the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable DevelopmentFootnote 15 and the Task Force on Just Transition for Canadian Coal Power Workers and Communities,Footnote 16 to bring forward legislation to establish a plan and governance and accountability mechanisms that will ensure the Government is prepared to support workers and communities.
Overall, legislation can help ensure that the Government has every region, including rural and remote communities, of Canada and every Canadian worker at the center of its policy and decision-making. It will also create the framework needed to ensure we continually adapt our approach as time goes on, based on regular dialogue with Canadians.
Following robust consultations over two years, the Government will be prepared to introduce legislation in 2023. This legislation lays out a framework for accountability, engagement and transparency that will ensure we empower workers and communities and build economic opportunities in a way that gives confidence to Canadians, much like the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActFootnote 17. To do so the legislation will include three core elements:
- Guiding principles designed to increase engagement, strengthen accountability, and ground government action in international best practice. Similar principles have been adopted by other governments, such as Scotland and New Zealand, and institutions worldwide, such as the International Labour Organization.
These principles will include the following:
- Adequate, informed and ongoing dialogue, including through social dialogueFootnote 18, to build strong consensus on pathways to a net-zero economy;
- Policies and programs should support the creation of decent work, good paying and high-quality jobs; recognize local and regional needs; account for cultural values, strengths and potential of communities and workers; and provide an enabling environment for enterprises, workers, investors, and consumers to contribute to achieving the transition towards sustainable and inclusive economies and societies;
- This work should be inclusive and remove barriers to employment with an emphasis on the creation of employment opportunities for underrepresented groups including women, persons with disabilities, Indigenous Peoples, Black and other racialized individuals, 2SLGBTQI+, and other marginalized peoples; and
- International cooperation should foster strengthened global efforts, informing Canadian approaches to support workers and communities in the global transition to net-zero.
While the path to net-zero will vary by region and sector across our country, a core set of shared principles – enshrined in legislation – can strengthen our collective work and guide a cohesive approach to climate and energy security and support the creation of sustainable jobs.
- Governance structures that collect external input on, design, implement and track programs and policies across the federal government that relate to a net-zero economy and the creation of sustainable jobs. One of the more tangible commonalities among countries that have advanced this area of policy is the creation of durable governance structures that can coordinate and oversee this work in areas of federal jurisdiction. This includes the creation of a Sustainable Jobs Partnership Council, as detailed earlier in this plan, to ensure Canada’s approach is informed by ongoing dialogue with input from Canadians with diverse regional backgrounds, experiences, and expertise. Additionally, federal departments and agencies must work together, including through mechanisms like the Sustainable Jobs Secretariat, to ensure there is ongoing engagement with key partners such as provinces and territories and Indigenous groups. It will also be important to engage with unions and workers, industry, experts, academia, and civil society.
- Reporting requirements will also be a feature of the legislation to promote transparency and ensure accountability. This will include a requirement to publish a federal Sustainable Jobs Action Plan every five years beginning in 2025, and report on progress of previously published plans, to ensure the Government’s approach remains responsive and relevant to the evolving low-carbon economy and markets for sustainable jobs creation. This Action Plan will be informed by ongoing input from stakeholders and expert advice from the Partnership Council.
These core elements may be adjusted as the legislation is discussed and debated in Parliament.
What we heard from the consultations
Through these consultations, the Government of Canada heard from a wide range of partners and stakeholders. The below is a brief summary of what was heard, and is not necessarily reflective of the Government’s policy position.
Engagement sessions held across Canada
This Plan is informed by significant feedback the Government has received through consultations on sustainable jobs legislation with workers and unions, industry, environmental organizations, provinces and territories, Indigenous Peoples and Canadians more generally in 2021 and 2022. As described in NRCan’s discussion paper on a people-centered transition, these consultations focused in particular on the inclusion of just transition principles in legislation, along with the establishment of an Advisory Body to provide ongoing advice to Government and provide a crucial mechanism for engagement. Over the course of several months, a series of virtual consultations were held to gather reaction to and input on the potential measures and pathways outlined in NRCan’s discussion paper on a people-centered transition. In addition, Canadians were encouraged to email their views, and the provinces, territories and Indigenous organizations were also engaged directly for their feedback.
The first round of engagement sessions were held during August 2021, and the second round was held between April to May 2022. A total of 17 engagement sessions were held, with each one lasting three hours. Feedback from more than 30,000 emails were also summarized and analyzed to find recurring themes, unique and common perspectives, and reactions, as well as recommendations from interested Canadians. Over 75 detailed submissions were received from Canadian organizations outlining their vision for the design of legislation and comprehensive action on a just transition. Views expressed touched on a wide range of issues pertaining to Government action in this space.
In addition to focused discussions on legislation, Employment and Social Development Canada also leveraged the 17 engagement sessions to seek input on the recently announced Sustainable Jobs Training Centre (previously referred to as a Clean Jobs Training Centre), a mandate commitment of the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion.
This section of the 2023 Sustainable Jobs Plan describes what we heard as part of the Government’s commitment to an open and transparent process, describing input across several key categories of Canadian partners and stakeholders.
The role and input of labour unions
Canada’s labour unions have played a leading role in promoting and supporting sustainable jobs, both at home and abroad. One of the international labour movement’s significant contributions has been the establishment of the International Labour Union’s (ILO) Guidelines for a just transition towards environmentally sustainable economies and societies for all, which was prepared following a meeting of the ILO in 2015. These guidelines are recognized as a globally endorsed framework – including by Canada – that outlines principles to promote and manage the move to a low-carbon economy, and reflect the views and perspectives of governments, employers, and workers’ organizations.
Labour unions also played a strong role in the Government’s Task Force on Just Transition for Canadian Coal Power Workers and Communities. The Task Force, established by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change in 2018, was comprised of 11 members, with more than half coming from a union background. The advice of the Task Force helped inspire Canada’s support for communities affected by the phasing out of coal-powered electricity and has helped inform and shape the government’s current approach.
While Canada’s labour leaders and unions are as diverse as the workers they represent and the regions they serve, some common themes emerged during the labour-based roundtables. Labour groups highlighted the importance of:
- Ensuring broad, ongoing, and meaningful engagement mechanisms with workers and communities.
- Establishing a role for labour groups and workers that goes beyond consultations to include contributing to policy development.
- Adopting unique local and regional approaches, with programs and policies tailored to the specific needs of communities.
- Recognizing the prevalence of non-unionized workers in the oil and gas sector and the vulnerability of marginalized peoples.
- Providing continued government support for union-led training centres that work closely with employers to help members, including young people, to receive training in the most in-demand skills, as well as the latest equipment and innovations.
- Improving labour-market data collection and projections.
- Prioritizing government efforts to create well-paying, high-quality jobs with benefits that match those in the oil and gas industry, including using innovative tools like Community Benefit Agreements.
Regional labour groups who submitted written submissions include the Alberta, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, British Columbia and Saskatchewan Federations of Labour, the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, Building Trades of Alberta Nova Scotia Power, and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (Local 1928), International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 424 (IBEW Alberta), and the Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec (FTQ).
The Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) indicated, along with workers having a seat at the table, that government policies focusing on training, income supports and pension bridging are necessary, but they are not sufficient. The AFL’s vision for transformative change includes significant federal transfers to the provinces so they can seize the “unprecedented infrastructure and commercial opportunity” of the clean energy transition.
The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) is seeking an explicit commitment within the just transition principles to support affected communities and individuals throughout the transition and that federal programming includes funding to create long-term economic opportunities.
In general, labour groups expressed a desire for the guiding principles of the sustainable jobs legislation to be concrete and implementable. Many suggested mirroring ILO principles and definitions while some labour representatives preferred using the principles developed by the Task Force on Just Transition for Canadian Coal Power Workers and Communities. On the proposed Advisory Body, all labour groups agreed on the need for broad representation across all affected groups, sectors, stakeholders, and communities. Most labour groups also advocated for a tripartite institution bringing together all levels of government, workers, and industry.
On a proposed Clean Jobs Training Centre, some labour groups recommended that support be provided to existing education and training centres, particularly given the need for place-based and regional approaches. They also cautioned against for-profit training and initiatives where training is rolled out quickly or fast-tracked via micro-credentials, indicating that quality training takes time and that microcredentials have the potential to degrade the certified trades system. Finally, labour stakeholders highlighted the importance that training be offered to workers while they are already employed, and that it should be designed to ensure quality jobs when workers have completed their training.
This feedback on the Clean Jobs Training Centre lays out what we heard during three virtual roundtable sessions with 35 participants from labour groups from across the country and reflects written submissions received from 12 labour organizations.
Provinces, territories and municipalities
Provincial and territorial governments share the goal of creating good, well-paying jobs for generations of Canadians to come, and have many tools and levers at their disposal to encourage the creation of sustainable jobs. Input was sought from every province and territory. While input was not received from each province and territory, those who did provide input indicated a diversity of opinions regarding the way forward. For example, some provinces would like to see the federal government abandon its plan for sustainable jobs legislation. They argue that the initiative would undermine the economic future and livelihoods of oil and gas workers by signalling the end of their industry. On the flip side, other provinces expressed strong support for federal legislation and action on sustainable jobs as a way to complement their own efforts to create enduring employment opportunities and economic activity, particularly in rural regions. Others emphasized that any federal efforts must respect provincial jurisdiction over energy and consider differences in provincial electricity policy.
Coal-powered communities from Saskatchewan and Alberta had dedicated roundtables for their specific needs. The Saskatchewan coal communities roundtable included stakeholders, such as the City of Estevan, the Town of Coronach, the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities, Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association, South Saskatchewan Ready and the Southeast Saskatchewan Economic Partnership. Stakeholders from Alberta included Leduc County, Parkland County, the Town of Hanna, Battle River Economic Opportunities Committee (counties of Paintearth and Flagstaff), Alberta Urban Municipalities Association, Paul First Nation, and Community Futures Network of Alberta. Provincial government staff from Alberta, Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador were also present in discussions about Western Canada coal communities in transition. Rural and remote municipalities requested that the principles include a reference to people living and working in rural communities facing unique barriers. Rural and remote communities typically have lower access to broadband connectivity, social and employment services, educational opportunities, mental health services, and other factors that will be important to consider in the transition to address.
Some clear themes and priorities have emerged from meetings with national Indigenous organizations, as well as testimony and evidence gathered at Parliamentary committee hearings. In particular, Indigenous participants have welcomed proposed Sustainable Jobs legislation, along with its guiding principles, as part of a healing process to understand historical trauma and internalized oppression.
To this end, Indigenous organizations stress that it will be very important for any legislation to be consistent with and uphold the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which stipulates, among others, that Indigenous peoples have the same rights as others established under applicable international and domestic labour law; without discrimination, to the improvement of their economic and social conditions, including, in the areas of education, employment, vocational training and retraining, housing, sanitation, health and social security; and to determine and develop priorities and strategies for exercising their right to development. The legislation should also ensure the equitable distribution of access to energy and climate solutions – at an affordable price – and encourage ownership and/or co-benefits of climate solutions by Indigenous groups and disadvantaged communities.
Of those Indigenous organizations who participated, Feedback on a proposed advisory body was generally positive. Indigenous organizations expect a distinctions-based approach to Indigenous representation on the proposed advisory body, up to and including a separate Indigenous advisory body.
It is important to note, however, that the feedback received was not uniform. Some Indigenous representatives have said that getting to net-zero should not negatively nor disproportionately affect First Nation communities, and that opportunities should be built into the energy transition for Indigenous equality and equity ownership in new projects. It was also pointed out that Indigenous Peoples face barriers when trying to access some skills and training programs. One solution would be to include on-reserve training opportunities, which is why governments need to empower regional coalitions of First Nation communities to be able to develop their own training programs.
Industry, business groups and utilities
Industry’s focus largely centres on the different areas of jurisdiction between federal, provincial, and territorial governments, and that sustainable jobs legislation should account for regional differences. To that end, several of these organizations suggested that each province and territory have its own advisory body composed of government, industry, labour, and other invested stakeholders. In order to assist in this endeavor, industry asks for a labour market assessment of each province with consideration to impacts on communities. To keep track of success, they suggest regularly monitoring and reporting progress by government. In general, industry and business groups are supportive of the proposed just transition principles; however, they suggest that energy security (access to safe, reliable, and affordable energy) be added as an additional principle.
The availability of the labour workforce was brought up, as skilled workers are in high demand across the globe, and the government must ensure that Canada retains its skilled labour. To that end, industry emphasizes that education and re-training assistance is critical for workers, as is support for employers to hire employees with limited experience. Some participants cited the Canada-Alberta Job Grant as a good example of provinces and the federal government collaborating to provide an employer-driven training program where employers and government share the cost of training new and existing employees to increase their knowledge and skills.
On a proposed Clean Jobs Training Centre (now called the Sustainable Jobs Training Centre), industry highlighted the importance of assessing workers’ existing skillsets in order to properly map job transitions and determine training gaps that need to be filled, as well as develop training and credential systems that ensure mobility for workers. They also suggested that the Centre use a hybrid or virtual model to ensure national reach in the delivery of training. Industry and businesses emphasize that support for affected communities and Indigenous groups is also critical.
Education and skills and training organizations
Education and skills-based organizations were positive about the approach in general, and provided specific recommendations as to how to meet the needs of workers and communities. They share industry’s concern of ensuring there is adequate supply in the labour market as economic growth spurred by the opportunities in a net-zero economy takes off.
To ensure that training can do the important work of upskilling and reskilling workers at all phases of their careers, current funding programs for training programs should be shifted to ongoing intakes, rather than the one-time funding process that is currently in place.
They recommend that the Government, through relationships with provinces and territories, fund training centers and colleges to update curriculum with energy efficiency and other low-carbon techniques, subsidize vocational and professional training, develop occupation-specific roadmaps and workforce development action plans for the building sector, and develop a whole of government-approach that includes ESDC, ISED, NRCan, and Finance Canada. Additionally, upskilling and reskilling programs should specifically prioritize access for Indigenous workers and communities who face extra barriers.
Feedback from education and skills-based organizations on the proposed Clean Jobs Training Centre included a focus on ensuring support for equity-deserving groups and addressing barriers to support equitable access to training opportunities. They also recommended the Centre leverage existing public training infrastructure, and ensure certifications are widely recognizable and that shorter credentials are stackable and can eventually lead to certification.
Think tanks and research organizations
Think tanks and research organizations that provided views through the consultation process find the principles to be generally consistent with international literature and best practices. They also had further suggestions regarding how the principles can better incorporate human, labour, Indigenous, and migrant rights, as well as an enhanced social safety net. To that end, they indicated legislation should reference key international agreements (ILO, the 1.5-degree climate goal) and create an advisory body with comprehensive plans around implementation and accountability. The advisory body should have wide representation in its membership and should have a coordinating function, as well as lead on the development of regionally specific transition roadmaps and propose/monitor policies related to decarbonisation and workforce transition.
These organizations also note that the global transition to a net-zero economy will not just have implications for workers but communities, too. It is crucial to gather robust labour market information to support the identification of new opportunities for workers their regions. Sectoral pathways would need to be developed to understand implications for stakeholders and communities at the local level. These pathways should be coupled with corporate accountability mechanisms to avoid shifting burdens to government and taxpayers and uphold the polluter-pays principle. Additionally, industry must contribute to relevant funding initiatives. Funding priorities and needs assessments should also be established in a tripartite manner to support local decision making. Think tanks believe the Government needs to consider (and design programs for) two different categories of workers: oil and gas workers who wish to pursue careers beyond the scope of sustainable jobs, and those looking to pursue careers within the scope of sustainable jobs.
Environmental organizations propose that Canada’s approach to a just transition should be grounded in the fundamental principles of the International Labour Organization and draw on these guidelines for a just transition toward environmentally sustainable economies and societies for all. The groups feel that creation of an advisory body is insufficient on its own, and needs permanent federal authority with spending and decision-making power with the authority to convene several Ministers. Stakeholders suggested that this could be done through a just transition commissioner to ensure coherence across government or create a new federal ministry that works across departments/governments. An advisory body made up of civil society members (Indigenous leadership, labour representatives, migrant rights networks and environmental organisations) would be created to support the role of this new federal authority. Residents of communities who have undergone the transition away from coal mining and coal-fired electricity generation would also specifically be considered.
These organizations suggest that government should take the lead in protecting and developing specific strategic industries as new opportunities are emerging for clean industries that will provide new jobs and can be a path to mutual worker and employer success. Furthermore, sustainable jobs should be inclusive to all marginalized groups and government plans in this area should be applicable to all workers, even those outside of energy-intensive industries.
Western Canada coal communities in transition
Stakeholders from communities in Western Canada impacted by the accelerated phase out of unabated coal-fired electricity suggest that sustainable jobs efforts should foster co-creation efforts between government and communities who are at the forefront of the transition. They ask for place-based strategies that are community-driven and asset based, and protect ecosystems and ecological health. Communities that are impacted by the phasing out of unabated coal-powered electricity by 2030 request additional and sustained government funding and programming to support skills and training programs that will: support workers in the transition to renewable energy; create a more employable and flexible workforce; and assist workers with their move to new job sites. They also ask to focus on and prioritize the creation of “green“ unionized jobs in multiple sectors including health, education, the care services (child care, long-term care, health care and social services) transit, public transportation, and the building industry. A just transition approach should develop and implement policies to ensure the security and resilience of workers, their families, and communities.
Additionally, they highlight the importance of and need for a multi-level government approach to climate change mitigation and adaptation. The advisory body should have sector councils in affected communities, and a one-window approach for workers to access sustainable jobs programming and services, and mechanisms to ensure grassroots engagement. They also recommend establishing links between this Advisory Body and others that already exist, such as the Social Innovation Advisory Council. On legislation, communities advocate for government to address the inequitable burden that climate change places on low-income, racialized and Indigenous communities including: adopting policies in accordance with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and applying an equity lens to all proposed aspects of the legislation.
Canadians are generally supportive of sustainable jobs legislation. Some 30,000 emails were received during public consultations and approximately 29,000 originated from five letter-writing campaigns. In the emails received, most favored comprehensive action and policies for the creation of sustainable jobs. They also called for additional consultation and the involvement of Indigenous communities. However, support for the legislation varied by region, as workers in Alberta and Saskatchewan expressed concern about the sustainable jobs legislation because they fear their jobs are most at risk in the global transition to a net-zero economy. These workers perceive just transition to be a movement that seeks to phase out fossil fuel jobs. Some Canadians called for an increase in Canada's competitive advantage internationally, including by meeting global energy demands with Canadian oil and natural gas. Broadly speaking, many responses highlighted confusion around what the terms “just transition” and “sustainable jobs” mean, and public opposition seemed to be rooted in the larger issue of federal climate action and policies as opposed to the government’s work to create sustainable jobs in every region of Canada.
Outcomes and reporting
Through this interim Sustainable Jobs Plan we will advance 3 core outcomes:
- Economic growth, competitiveness and prosperity: The measures identified in this Plan will contribute to the Government’s efforts to grow the net-zero economy across the country, helping to create new sustainable jobs and prosperity for all Canadians. The Government’s efforts will be undertaken in a manner that seeks to enhance diversity and equity and address barriers for underrepresented groups, and in a way that ensures action on sustainable jobs is shaped by ongoing input from Indigenous organizations, workers and other key partners on the path to net-zero.
- Climate action and a healthier natural environment: To effectively address climate change, we need plans to reduce our emissions and adapt to climate impacts. Just as importantly, we need a plan to encourage the creation of sustainable jobs in the net-zero economy and to ensure workers have the training they want and need to seize the opportunities of a net-zero economy.
- Indigenous reconciliation, gender equality, and a more diverse and inclusive Canada: This plan will help ensure that the path to a net-zero economy is inclusive. Through the Sustainable Jobs Partnership Council and the Government’s ongoing engagement with partners and stakeholders, all Canadians will have a voice. Indigenous-led solutions, along with the social and economic measures proposed will allow under-represented groups to gain the necessary skills to succeed in sustainable jobs. A proactively inclusive approach to accessing economic opportunities will allow rural and remote and historically marginalized communities to share in the economic benefits of upcoming opportunities. Finally, improvements to labour market data will allow for better tracking to confirm that work to build the economy of the future is inclusive and just, and can course correct as necessary.
Along the way, the Government will continue to provide transparent and consistent updates to hold itself accountable to progress implementing these sustainable jobs measures. This interim Sustainable Jobs Plan is a living document and will evolve in the coming years, as required, to ensure we are reflecting the priorities we are hearing from Canadians, responding to the advice we are receiving from experts, and addressing the trends we are seeing in our net-zero future.
The proposed legislation will require the publication of a Sustainable Jobs Action Plan every 5 years which will be used to put in place measures to promote the labour market’s ability to support the net-zero emissions economy. It will designate a clear accountability cycle, requiring the Minister to establish an updated Plan every 5 years to be tabled in Parliament, and will also require progress reports.
In 2025 we commit to producing the first progress report, with specific measures on the plan to demonstrate our progress on the desired outcomes of economic growth, progress to net-zero emissions targets, Indigenous reconciliation, and a more diverse and inclusive Canadian workforce, as well as reporting on the progress in achieving this plan in the 2025 Sustainable Jobs Action Plan.
Workers have always been the engine of Canada’s success. Even as the world changes, that will remain the same. It is through seizing these key economic opportunities and partnerships that Canadians will create and secure good, well-paying jobs and economic prosperity and ensure Canadian workers and industries are on the leading edge of a net-zero emissions economy in the short term, and for generations to come.
This interim Sustainable Jobs Plan, and the suite of measures contained within it, position Canada to seize the benefits of being an early innovator and adopter. As this interim plan for 2023-2025 is implemented, the Government of Canada will continue its critical partnerships with provinces, territories, Indigenous communities, workers and unions, industry, experts, youth, and civil society to launch the initiatives listed in this plan and chart a part towards the finalization of the first five-year Sustainable Jobs Action Plan to be published in 2025.
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