Unifor Talks Cap-and-Trade with Ontario Environment Minister


Unifor joined other members of the Clean Economy Alliance, a multi-sector coalition of 90 organizations united to support Ontario’s climate change efforts, as they met with Environment and Climate Change Minister Glen Murray and other MPPs at Queen's Park on April 18.

“ We’ve appreciated that our partner ENGO’s and environmentally conscious business sectors have understood and supported the importance of jobs and worker rights in the cap-and-trade system and the larger action plan,“ Unifor Ontario Regional Director Katha Fortier told the Alliance.

Fortier was joined by Jordan Brennan, Unifor economist and Dave Moffat, Assistant to the President.

“Unifor members work at about 35 of the 150 large emitters listed on Ontario's data base,” said Moffat. “We need to be part of the discussion on the provinces’ climate action plan.”

Fortier told the MPPs and Alliance members that Unifor supports the goals of Ontario's climate change program but the union is calling for constructive changes to Bill 172, Climate Change Mitigation and Low-carbon Economy Act.

"We want cap and trade to work," said Fortier. "However we believe that its success depends on our ability to demonstrate to Ontario workers that they will not be left behind as economic and environmental change transforms our province."

That's the message Ms. Fortier and Fred Wilson, Unifor Director of Strategic Planning delivered earlier this month at the Standing Committee on General Government hearings on Bill 172.

"We're asking MPPs to think about these workers" said Wilson. "We need to ensure that this Act gives us the tools to protect their jobs and to provide a just transition when the impact of climate change policy cannot be mitigated."

Unifor's key recommendations include:

  • A framework for imposing a carbon price border adjustment on any product impacting our EITE (Emission Intensive Trade Exposed) sector that enters Ontario from a jurisdiction without a carbon price or with a lesser price
  • Reporting on GHG content extended to apply to cement, mined products, automobiles and auto parts, pulp and paper products or other products that are applicable to our EITE sector
  • Special consideration provided to economic sectors which must carry an extraordinary burden of change
  • Make it clear that transitional credits are for the purpose of supporting employment stability and that these credits shall be provided for a period of time and with conditions which provide both a long term certainty for employers and security for workers
  • Current work producing energy should transition into work producing green energy with employers required to work with unions to develop labour adjustment plans that will ensure displaced workers benefit from good jobs in this new economy
  • Unifor proposes that "just transition" measures be explicitly referenced in Bill 172, as it was in the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, as a principle informing and guiding the implementation of climate change action plans.