Reducing methane leaks should create good jobs

Main Image
Large liquified fuel tank with Enbridge logo. Trees in the foreground.

Unifor is actively campaigning to ensure Canada’s efforts to mitigate methane emissions along Canada’s natural gas infrastructure relies on good union jobs. 

On February 20, Unifor National President Lana Payne wrote to federal Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Jonathan Wilkinson to detail recommendations for reducing methane leaks across the natural gas supply chain. The letter augments a written submission to the federal government’s regulatory body earlier in 2024.

Unifor maintains that unionized workers in the industry, who are already familiar with the infrastructure and operations of the sector, are essential in identifying and mitigating leaks.

"Methane leaks have been responsible for about a third of climate change causing emissions, so by sealing leaks we're fighting climate change through good, union jobs,” said Payne. “Our members are already on the front lines, leading the charge in making our industry more sustainable."

Methane has a significant impact on climate change as it is over 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. Leaks throughout the supply chain not only pose environmental risks but also undermines public trust in the industry's commitment to sustainable practices and the health and safety of our gas workers. 

Unifor is calling for government, labour, and industry to work together to establish best practices for reducing methane emissions. Unions are indispensable in the process of holding employers accountable through well-established committees in workplaces that can identify under-investment in leak mitigation.

To further independently verified emission reductions, the government must have a prominent role supporting the development of leak detection technologies and ushering its deployment. Unifor’s submission calls for new regulations to mandate reduced emissions, paired with direct federal and provincial support for employers of all sizes to boost implementation of readily available leak mitigation technologies. These efforts must be reinforced by hiring and training union workers, ensuring that these climate change fighting jobs are union jobs.

In Ontario, Unifor is campaigning to ensure that Enbridge Gas reverses contracting-out and maintains a robust permanent workforce to address fugitive methane emissions.

“The level at which Enbridge has outsourced is a public health and safety risk,” said Payne. “Enbridge has a legal obligation to maintain our natural gas infrastructure, and that includes staffing levels that can address methane leakage in a safe and timely manner.”

Unifor represents nearly 15,000 workers in oil and gas extraction, natural gas distribution, electric utilities, nuclear energy, and petroleum refineries.

Media Contact

Ian Boyko

National Communications Representative - Western Region