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Canada Presents Sustainable Jobs Bill for Green Transition

Canada Presents Sustainable Jobs Bill for Green Transition

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  • The Royal Bank of Canada estimates that building a net-zero economy could create up to 400,000 new jobs in Canada by the end of this decade alone.
  • As of last fall, Canadian employers were trying to fill more than one million job vacancies. A significant number of those vacancies (243,400) were in the professional, scientific, technical, construction and manufacturing sectors, which were already facing labour shortages before the pandemic.
  • It is anticipated that an aging population and declining workforce participation will add to labour shortages over the long term. It is estimated that some 600,000 workers may retire over the next three years.
  • In February 2023, the government released the Sustainable Jobs Plan, announcing 10 key actions to further objectives on sustainable jobs, including the Regional Energy and Resource Tables. 
  • NRCan held consultations on the Sustainable Jobs Plan and legislation starting in August 2021. A total of 17 engagement sessions were held with nearly 190 participants, and more than 30,000 emails and 75 detailed submissions from Canadian organizations were received. Feedback was also gathered from engaging with every province and territory.

Canada is extremely well positioned to take advantage of the economic opportunities presented by the global race to net zero. It’s up to us as a country to make the smartest possible choices to ensure prosperity for Canadians and a healthy planet for future generations.

For seven years, the Government of Canada has been working on strategies, investing and improving regulations to help Canada become the clean energy and technology supplier of choice in a net-zero world. This plan features partnership with provinces and territories, including via the Regional Energy and Resource Tables. It also includes the February 2023 release of the Interim Sustainable Jobs Plan, which spoke to the work to be done to seize the economic opportunities that will be enabled through a move to a low-carbon future.

Today, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Natural Resources, advanced one of the 10 key action areas outlined in the plan by introducing a bill entitled “An Act respecting accountability, transparency and engagement to support the creation of sustainable jobs for workers and economic growth in a net-zero economy” (Canadian Sustainable Jobs Act).

The Canadian Sustainable Jobs Act includes several measures, all of which were outlined in the Interim Sustainable Jobs Plan earlier this year. The legislation will put workers and communities at the centre of policy and decision-making by establishing a federal framework for accountability, a governance structure and engagement mechanisms — all guided by the principles of equity, fairness and inclusion. These include: 

  • creating a Sustainable Jobs Partnership Council to provide the government, through a process of ongoing social dialogue and engagement, with independent advice on the most effective measures to encourage sustainable job creation and to support workers and communities in the economy they are building for the future; 
  • publishing a Sustainable Jobs Action Plan every five years, beginning in 2025, to put in place measures to invest in the net-zero emissions economy and skills of the future; and,
  • establishing a Sustainable Jobs Secretariat to enable policy and program coherence across federal entities on the government’s sustainable jobs approach, and to support the Partnership Council.

The Act will hold future governments to account with respect to supporting Canada’s workers in a strong Canadian economy for generations to come. Similar to the Net-Zero Accountability Act, it will put into place structures, guidelines and accountability mechanisms to help Canadians judge the performance of this and future governments in this space.

See related article: The RBC Climate Action Institute Created to Inspire Action for Canada’s Net Zero Journey

Both the Interim Plan and the new legislation have been informed by more than two years of consultations and conversations with provinces and territories, Indigenous Peoples, workers and unions, industry, environmental and civil society organizations and interested Canadians. The approach builds on over $120 billion in federal investments earmarked since 2016 to build a clean economy, as well as over $1.5 billion in historic investments for skills programming, including sustainable jobs.

The Government of Canada will continue collaboration efforts with key partners and stakeholders, and eventually with the Partnership Council, to develop a 2025 Sustainable Jobs Action Plan and ensure Canadians in every region have access to good, sustainable jobs.     


“Canada is executing its plan to become the clean energy and technology supplier of choice in a net-zero world. With this legislation, the federal government is taking yet another step forward to ensure that Canada’s workers have the skills and support necessary to seize this generational opportunity.”

The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Natural Resources

“Workers will lead our energy transition. It’s workers who know how to build up renewables and lower emissions. We need them. We need more of them.”

The Honourable Seamus O’Regan Jr., Minister of Labour 

“The Canadian Sustainable Jobs Act is a step toward a future that puts the interests of energy workers at the forefront of a low-carbon economy. We look forward to continuing to work with the government to ensure that workers benefit from the opportunities created through this legislation.”

Patrick Campbell, Canadian Director, International Union of Operating Engineers

“The proposed Canadian Sustainable Jobs Act is the latest milestone in ongoing efforts to protect workers as the economy transitions to net zero. Unifor is ready to provide the federal government with the guidance necessary to ensure this legislation works for workers.”

Lana Payne, Unifor National President

“With the Canadian Sustainable Jobs Act, which resulted from the Supply and Confidence Agreement, we have an opportunity to establish a better model for collaboration between workers, their unions, industry and governments. This can give Canada a competitive advantage in the new global low-carbon economy, while ensuring benefits for workers and communities.”

Bea Bruske, President, Canadian Labour Congress

“Through this legislation, the Government of Canada has demonstrated its commitment to protecting good-paying, highly skilled jobs. The Canadian Sustainable Jobs Act, established through the Confidence and Supply Agreement, supports our calls for unions, industry and governments to be working together to ensure that workers are the focus and a blueprint is established to create good-paying jobs in a net-zero economy. The IBEW’s almost 70,000 members in Canada are ready to help build the next generation of Canada’s vital energy infrastructure to help us reach our net-zero goals.”

Russ Shewchuk, IBEW International Vice President for the First District (Canada)

“Canada’s Building Trades Unions welcome the Canadian Sustainable Jobs Act, tabled today in the House of Commons. We have, and will continue to work closely with the government on this important legislation because workers must be at the forefront of the transition to net zero, one of the greatest economic transformations of our time. One needs to only look back to the passing of the Canada-U.S. free trade agreement in 1987 as an example of the devastating impacts major policy initiatives can have on workers. Lack of meaningful consultation resulted in a large decline of the workforce and a loss of good jobs with many workers never returning to the same quality of job that had been lost. That is why Canada’s Building Trades Unions are pleased that this government is conducting meaningful consultation with labour on the transition to net zero, through the Sustainable Partnership Council included in today’s legislation, to ensure workers are front and centre during this transition.”

Sean Strickland, Executive Director of Canada’s Building Trades Unions.

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