The Pembina Institute urges the Senate to pass Bill C-50 without delay

Testimony in support of the Sustainable Jobs Act

June 7, 2024
Blog Entry
Senate of Canada

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The following is a summary of testimony provided on June 6 to the Senate of Canada's Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology about Bill C-50, the Canadian Sustainable Jobs Act. 

Good morning, Senators. My name is Megan Gordon. I am a Senior Analyst on the Equitable Transition team at the Pembina Institute. 

The Pembina Institute is a clean energy think tank that has spent the last four decades working to reduce the environmental impact of energy production and to advance clean energy solutions. A core tenet of our work is equity. We work to ensure that a clean economy maximizes social benefits to workers and communities. 

To learn more about Sustainable Jobs, join us on Friday June 14 at 1pm ET for the webinar: “Workers Leading the Energy Transition.” Register now. 

At the Pembina Institute, we believe climate change is one of the greatest challenges to current and future generations. Addressing climate change's effects and impacts requires a wholistic approach. But too often workers are pitted against the environment as though we cannot have good jobs and a decarbonized world. This isn't the case. Decarbonization can result in decent jobs, and many are working to make that happen. That's why we support the passage of Bill C-50 without amendments.

Workers have been impacted by past transitions

I have personally had the privilege of hearing dozens of stories from workers in rural, northern, and resource-based communities who have seen the cycles of industry booms and busts erode the social fabric of the places they live. The experiences of transitions past and present are still felt viscerally in the memories of workers. 

Changes are coming 

Canada no longer has the luxury of taking a reactive approach to changes that we can reasonably predict. Global shifts to our energy systems are occurring at an accelerated pace. The demand for oil is expected to begin to decline at the end of this decade, and other trends such as automation are changing our domestic industries and employment landscape. These trends are largely out of our control and have a greater impact on our economy than domestic policy choices. Change is coming whether we like it or not, and it is the responsibility of the government to help Canada be prepared. 

We need to prepare 

Economic and energy systems modelling shows future scenarios that can help us prepare, and workers must be at the table to guide this process. A study co-authored by the Pembina Institute and the Canadian Labour Congress, the Sustainable Jobs Blueprint (Part I and Part II), showed that modest policy interventions in training, skills development, social security and targeted regional economic growth supports led to more positive outcomes for those most vulnerable to global transition impacts. 

C-50 is the first step to making progress 

It is now up to the government to prove to Canadians they will take the necessary policy actions and investments to help workers and communities prepare. The passage of Bill C-50, the Sustainable Jobs Act, represents a critical milestone in doing so. The creation of the Partnership Council will ensure that workers, Indigenous people, industry representatives and other experts are able to provide direct input into the policymaking process. This is critical in ensuring workers have a voice and it will go a long way to reestablishing trust in our democracy. Furthermore, the creation of five-year action plans holds the government to account and ensures there are transparent and coordinated efforts to align climate plans with its plans for people and the economy. 

Pembina, other environmental groups and labour organizations have worked over the past year with decision makers to make improvements to this legislation, and we are pleased with its current status. 

The implementation of key policies and investments starts with Bill-C50 becoming law. The Pembina Institute urges the Senate to pass this legislation without delay. 

Opportunities to seize 

Not only does the passage of Bill C-50 help us prepare for changes, dedicated efforts to respond to the impacts of change can also help us capitalize on opportunities. Modelling undertaken for our Sustainable Jobs Blueprint report shows that there will be two million clean energy jobs in a net-zero 2050. 

This is time sensitive. Canada is competing with other global leaders for capital and talent. We have the potential to grow more jobs and more economic prosperity with the planning and coordination mechanisms that Bill -C-50 puts in motion.

We can realize more fairness and equity through transition 

With diverse perspectives sought through a sound policy process, engagement with workers, Indigenous peoples, and equity-deserving groups and industry, and the right internal planning architecture, we can leverage the clean energy transition to create prosperity for all Canadians.