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What is the Deal with the Green New Deal?

There has been a lot of discussion recently about the “Green New Deal” so what is it all about and what is labour’s perspective?

The “Deal” takes its title from the historic “New Deal” introduced in the 1930’s by U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt and helped lift the country from the Great Depression through investment in massive public works projects, employment programs and financial controls.

The “Green New Deal” being presented now has been introduced in the States by some U.S. Democrats including highly profiled New York Democrat Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) and calls for a shift in jobs and the economy from fossil fuels to renewable energy and infrastructure.

As the idea moved swiftly across the border to Canada and was endorsed by environmental non-government organizations, unions called for more consultation with a deeper investigation into how workers might be impacted.

The Unifor National Health, Safety Environment Department has been actively engaged in discussions to ensure a “Just Transition” process is a key part to any Canadian version of a Green New Deal.

Through initial discussions with partner organizations like Blue Green Canada and the Green Economy Network we clearly stated that the beginning conversations about a Green New Deal for Canada must be led from the ground up with a focus on “Just Transition.”

We have mutually agreed that all politicians and political parties must respond to the demands of the people with a Green New Deal that rests on two fundamental principles: 

  1. It must meet the demands of Indigenous communities and cut Canada’s emissions in half in 11 years.
  2. It must leave no worker behind to build a better present and future for all of us. That means ensuring that solutions are universal and far reaching. It means, as we transform our systems of transit, energy, housing, food and agriculture, and public services, that we’re creating dignified work that can support families. It means no newcomers are exploited because their status is precarious, and no resource workers are asked to sacrifice hard-won wages and benefits as they work in new industries. It means making all our communities healthier. It means reconnecting and feeling safe again. It means all of society heeding the call from young people, and coming together with a plan to sustain this generation and the seven generations that come after it. A Green New Deal must lift us all, together.

We recognize the momentum and enthusiasm this Green New Deal is bringing to today’s youth and we want to encourage that activism and energy. We want to have labour specific engagement - whether in the form of organizing labour targeted town hall meetings to develop goals that will move workers forward in the most positive way.  Stay tuned.

- Ken Bondy, National Representative