Canada unveils sustainable jobs plan to prepare workers for future green economy
Feb 17 (Reuters) - Canada on Friday released a long-awaited sustainable jobs plan, laying out how the federal government plans to help train workers for roles in the coming clean energy economy as the world aims for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
The plan, to be followed by legislation later this year, includes steps such as setting up a sustainable jobs secretariat to coordinate government policies and a partnership council to promote consultation with provinces, labour unions and others.
Canada said it is also planning to improve labour market data collection and advance funding for skills development, although the document did not outline any new government spending. From 2025 the government plans to release a new sustainable jobs plan every five years.
"Canada has what it takes to become the clean energy and technology supplier of choice in a net-zero world," Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said in a news release.
Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been promising sustainable jobs legislation since 2019. But in Canada, the world's fourth-largest crude oil producer, the concept of retraining workers for clean energy jobs, also called a "Just Transition", became a lightening rod for criticism.
In the crude-producing province Alberta, conservative Premier Danielle Smith has accused Trudeau of wanting to phase out the oil and gas sector.
The Alberta government is "perplexed" by the jobs plan not mentioning a liquefied natural gas export strategy and has "grave concerns" about it not recognising the provinces' right to manage their own natural resources, Smith said in a statement on Friday.
"This kind of dysfunctional communication by the federal government with our province cannot continue if Canada is to have any chance of achieving its 2050 emissions reduction targets," she said.
The federal government said enormous clean energy opportunities are emerging in oil-producing provinces, from hydrogen to critical minerals. There will also be sustainable jobs in conventional energy industries as Canadian producers aim to lower the carbon intensity of their crude, according to the document.
"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," the plan said.
Think-tanks Clean Energy Canada expects jobs in the sector will grow by 3.4% annually over the next decade, nearly four times faster than the Canadian average.
On Thursday, Smith wrote to Trudeau offering to collaborate with the federal government on developing carbon capture and storage incentives, but only if Ottawa secured Alberta's consent on climate policies that affect oil and gas, including clean energy jobs legislation.
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