Climate policy must make workers a priority

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Unifor’s newest submission to the federal government has one core premise in mind: No worker should experience economic collapse in the face of climate change either from climate events or the progression towards an environmentally sustainable world. 

The federal government is undertaking consultations as step towards the “Just Transition Act” promised during the Trudeau government’s previous term in office. 

“The greening of the economy in the post-pandemic rebuild must not be an excuse for employers to re-tool for a jobless recovery,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “In other words, just transition cannot become contract-flipping by another name.”

The submission is part of Unifor’s broader campaign to secure Canada’s version of a “green new deal” that prioritizes decent, good-paying, unionized jobs for a greener economy. The Canadian economy’s slide towards more precarious and part-time work was of concern before the pandemic and has only grown more acute during the crisis. 

Unifor’s submission urges the federal government to take meaningful steps to provide workers with concrete policies and programs that protect workers’ incomes, preserve (and expand) access to collective bargaining, provide efficient and relevant training, and generate decent unionized jobs in the green economy. 

Key recommendations:

  1. Reform Employment Insurance and implement active labour market policies 
  2. Improve labour market data collection at the sectoral and regional/local levels
  3. Implement long-term industrial policy and strategies
  4. Conduct facility-specific transition assessments
  5. Introduce border carbon adjustments while prioritizing locally produced goods and services

While the government has asked for comments on the idea of an advisory body to assist with the economic transition, Unifor suggests that nothing short of a ministry or commission is necessary to give the proper authority to the urgent work required to facilitate a just transition.

Read the full paper here.