Ottawa’s proposal to transition oil and gas workers to new jobs is insufficient, think tank says

Federal government proposals to support oil and gas workers as Canada moves away from fossil fuel production fall short of some of the big challenges of this industrial shift, according to the Canada West Foundation.

The independent, non-partisan think tank says there are two key pillars missing from Ottawa’s “just transition” strategy.

It also states that the categories described are “insufficient and do not capture all the critical elements that must inform a just transition”.

The federal government launched a discussion paper and a three-month consultation period on its proposed oil and gas worker transition policy in July.

The policy aims to support workers and move them to new jobs as the country slowly shifts away from carbon-intensive sectors – in July.

This legislation is under development.

The Ottawa paper examines four elements:

  • Engage people and stakeholders on the way forward.
  • Create stages in line with regional needs.
  • Be inclusive of diversity in changes.
  • Ensure international cooperation.

The government is also considering establishing an advisory body to advise on transition strategies.

“It was like saying how are we going to build a house and say, ‘Well, we’re going to have a nice garden and make sure we have well-insulated windows and a big mirror in the bathroom.’

“All of these things are fantastic, but there are some fundamentals missing that you also need to build really solid things,” said Marla Orenstein, director of the foundation’s natural resources center.

The foundation calls on Ottawa to change its plan to make regional supports proportional to job losses in these places, and to focus its support on workers, not to mention the fallout on communities that will lose sources of income and businesses that could go bankrupt.

“It won’t be helpful for someone who loses their job in a rural prairie community if that other job pops up, but it’s in tech in downtown Montreal,” she said.

CBC News has contacted the Ministry of Natural Resources, which spearheads the legislation, for comment.

Lessons from the Rust Belt, Newfoundland and the UK

Orenstein says examples like the collapse of communities in the Rust Belt in the United States as manufacturing declined, in Newfoundland after the cod moratorium and in the United Kingdom after the phasing out of gold mining. coal are cautions for Canada.

“What we are seeing is a deepening of communities, degradation of infrastructure, the value of property and homes of people disappearing and things turning into ghost towns. It is not pretty. And it is. is something that I think everyone really wants to avoid. “

The federal discussion paper says that “the Government of Canada also recognizes that the transition will have varying impacts across the country, between regions, sectors and demographics.”

A report of TD Economics estimates that up to 450,000 workers are at risk of being displaced by 2050. According to this research, approximately 600,000 Canadians are employed in the oil and gas industry.

The Liberal Trudeau government has pledged $ 2 billion to retrain oil and gas workers. In the election, the party also pledged to phase out oil and gas subsidies by 2023, two years ahead of the original plan.

Ottawa aims to bring Canada to net zero emissions by 2050, with other carbon reduction milestones along the way, such as a 40-45% reduction from 2005 levels by 2030.

The federal government continues to consult with provinces, stakeholders and the public on the legislation. The comments will be compiled into a report which will be made public.

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