Albertan Climate Advocates Respond to the Release of the Federal Sustainable Jobs Act

We need good green jobs for all who want them

– Edmonton

June 15, Treaty 6, 7, and 8 – Alberta-based climate groups are responding to the long-awaited federal Sustainable Jobs Act (previously Just Transition Act) announced today. Indigenous, climate, and labour groups from Alberta have advocated for this legislation for years. While today’s announcement shows promise on accountability to workers, it is inconsistent with the emergency-level action needed to meet our climate goals without leaving workers behind.

“The establishment of a Secretariat and a Partnership Council are good first steps towards open communication and accountability but require sustained support for regional planning and governance,” said Peter Loney with the Edmonton Council of Canadians. “Success will rely on establishing head offices in provinces like Alberta while empowering Indigenous communities to work bilaterally with government for a transition within their communities.”

Still, the biggest barrier to success may not be in Ottawa but in Edmonton. “Premier Smith’s unwavering decision to oppose the Act shows that the Albertan government is not interested in fighting for fossil fuel workers who are already losing their work to automation and greedy cost-cutting measures,” added Stephen Buhler from Climate Justice Edmonton. “If the past four years of austerity in health care and social services are any indication, then we know this government will not be there to support the workers abandoned by their employers. Instead, the opposite is likely to happen: workers falling through the cracks are more likely to experience homelessness and the drug poisoning epidemic at a time when the government is peddling forced treatment rather than investments in housing and harm reduction.”

“For a Just Transition to be real and effective, the federal government must ensure it will never leave the fate of workers, the environment, and our communities in the hands of the market. Despite receiving $4.3 billion in tax breaks since 2019, oil and gas corporations like Suncor and TC Energy showed just last week in new rounds of layoffs, their priorities are their profits, not workers or the environment.” added Natalie Odd, executive director of the Alberta Environmental Network. “It’s evident that the transition is already underway, only it is happening unfairly. Facing a summer season that’s starting with record-setting temperatures, fires, crop failures, and consistent threats to rural and Indigenous communities, the cost of climate action will pale in comparison to the cost of inaction.”

The group concludes: “Without large-scale investment in reliable and cost-effective climate solutions such as renewables, we risk continuing an unstable dependence on fossil fuels. The government can, and must, make the right adjustments to set us on a path to success. That means appropriate funding for municipalities and Indigenous communities as well as an earnest government investment to rival the American Inflation Reduction Act through good-paying union jobs. Waiting for private industry to ‘do the right thing’ will only delay the urgent need for action on climate now.”

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