A critical part of transitioning to a sustainable future is ensuring workers are prepared and jobs are available in the new economy. A strong job action plan is required. This was included in the Supply and Confidence Agreement between the Liberals and the NDP.

The answer was Bill C-50, the Canadian Sustainable Jobs Act, which was tabled in Parliament in June 2023. The Bill provides a structure to align the country’s approach to skills development, job creation and regional economic development with our climate goals.

It will require that the government publish sustainable job action plans every five years. Consultation with a council representing labour groups, industry, Indigenous people and environmental NGOs will also be required.

Unfortunately the Conservatives have been consistently opposing the Bill, throwing thousands of proposed amendments in its path and successfully delaying its passage. Liberal and NDP MPs have worked co-operatively and tirelessly to deal with the amendments, and now the Conservatives have proposed even more, many contradicting each other. As a result of the delays, the Bill is not yet scheduled for third reading. This means it may fail to receive Royal Assent in time to begin the work mandated by the Bill before the next election.

Consequently, twelve major climate and labour organizations sent a letter this week, calling on Prime Minister Trudeau, Natural Resources Minister Wilkinson and all the parties’ House Leaders to expedite the Bill’s passage. Key parts of the letter are excerpted below:

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister Wilkinson,

The undersigned labour and environmental organizations write to express our support for Bill C-50, the Canadian Sustainable Jobs Act, and to respectfully request your government continue to work with Members of Parliament to ensure a swift progression of this critical legislation through the House of Commons.

The worsening climate crisis requires accelerated action to reduce emissions and transition away from fossil fuels, all while ensuring the well-being of workers, communities, and Indigenous peoples who are integral to this transformative process. Bill C-50 provides an important opportunity to align Canada’s approach to workforce, regional, and economic development with our climate goals. …

For workers, this bill represents a seat at the table, and a commitment to ensuring that a sustainable economy is built on good, union jobs that have the paycheques and benefits that can support workers and their families and can anchor communities across the country. This bill gives workers a say in their future, so we protect good jobs by decarbonizing our economy, and when Canada is creating new, low-carbon jobs, that those jobs are the kind of good jobs that pay the bills.

However, we are concerned about the changes made to the timeline for the Action Plan….

It will be essential to implement mechanisms following the passage of the Act that advance equity, such as those that encourage local and regional transition planning, include affected workers in developing programs, raise health and safety and labour standards, and ensure the participation of Indigenous rights-holders in the shift to a net-zero economy …

With Bill C-50 having reached this important stage in the legislative process, we urge you to expedite its final improvements and passage through the House of Commons. …
The letter’s signatories include the Canadian Labour Congress, the David Suzuki Foundation, Ecojustice and the Pembina Institute.

We can only hope the politicians respond with the same urgency as the signatories. Time is not only getting short in passing this legislation; it’s getting short in dealing with the climate crisis.

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