Energy alternatives create new opportunities for First Nations resource workers

Press release

Climate change means new deal needed for resource workers: study

January 28, 2015

(Vancouver) Today the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) released a study that examines what transition away from fossil fuels means for workers-and their families and communities-who rely on the coal, oil, and natural gas industries.

Just Transition: Creating a green social contract for BC's resource workers draws on extensive interviews with workers in several industries-many of whom have experienced a "bust" period during their working lives. Their concerns, experiences and ideas inform the report's recommendations for "just transition"-an economic development strategy that ensures climate action doesn't worsen already-high levels of economic insecurity in resource-dependent communities.

The paper points out that the volatility of boom-and-bust resource industries negatively impacts workers-and extends to families and whole communities-a problem we see playing out today in northern Alberta due to the collapse of oil prices.

The paper recommends a proactive approach: stable managment of fossil fuel industries with a view towards wind-down, along with development of sustainable resource sector jobs in forestry.

"This is about creating well-paying and stable resource jobs that support communities," says co-author and former pulp and paper worker Karen Cooling. "Investments in sustainable forest practices and value-added processing create more jobs than fossil fuels. BC needs a jobs plan that takes worker experience into account and advances good, well-paying green jobs."

The report recommends BC create "a new green social contract" with workers that includes:

  • A just transition fund, to be created from resource revenues;
  • Alternative ownership models, including increased public ownership, worker ownership and partnerships with First Nations;
  • Enhanced provincial investments in expanded and new advanced skills training programs and apprenticeships;
  • Income security in the form of enhanced EI and improved pensions.


For more information or to set up interviews, please contact Lindsey Bertrand at 604-801-5121 x233

This report is part of the Climate Justice Project, a partnership between the CCPA and UBC, funded primarily by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, with support from Vancity and Vancouver Foundation. Additional funding for this study was provided by the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions.