IISD - International Institute for Sustainable Development

06/19/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 06/20/2024 18:12

Canada's Sustainable Jobs Legislation: A milestone for workers and communities on the path to net-zero

The global energy transition is already underway, bringing incredible opportunities for green job creation and labour shifts in high-emitting sectors. The Sustainable Jobs Act puts in place the necessary processes and principles to ensure that Canada's transition is charted in collaboration with workers, Indigenous Peoples, and affected communities.

The act requires the creation of key governance mechanisms to coordinate and direct transition programs, including the Sustainable Jobs Partnership Council, Secretariat, and Action Plans. The Partnership Council will ensure that the government's work is guided by labour, Indigenous Peoples, industry, civil society, and transition experts. The act outlines principles of a "people-centred sustainable jobs approach," including social dialogue between workers, governments, and employers, as well as decent work in the green economy-meaning good-paying, high-quality jobs with union representation, job security, and social protection.

IISD provided recommendations for the legislation and amendments based on best practices in just transition legislation in other jurisdictions and guidance from Canadian and international labour leaders. As a result of civil society input, the legislation was improved to include stronger links between sustainable jobs and climate policies under the Net-zero Emissions Accountability Act, stronger links between the guiding principles and action plans, and more inclusive governance processes.

"This new legislation lays the foundation for a shift that prioritizes workers and communities. Scaling up renewable energy and low-carbon infrastructure presents exciting opportunities for employment and green industrial growth. But this work will only be successful through true collaboration with Indigenous communities and impacted workers."

Laura Cameron, IISD Policy Advisor

The success of the legislation hinges on the engagement, policies, programs, and investments that follow. The government must implement the guiding principles across all sustainable employment initiatives-promoting fair labour practices and adopting an inclusive approach to tackle inequalities in the job market, all while advancing Canada's climate commitments. Given the regional nature of the energy transition in Canada, supporting social dialogue at the local and regional scales will be essential. This work should be supported by strategic foundational investments in sustainable jobs programs in Budget 2025.

"Bill C-50 establishes a robust framework for prioritizing workers in the shift towards sustainable energy. Moving forward, it is imperative for the federal government to leverage this achievement to advance global progress on energy transition during its upcoming G7 presidency."

Philip Gass, Director, Energy Program, Just Transitions and Canada

With this legislation and subsequent actions, Canada can join peers such as Germany, New Zealand, and Scotland as an international leader in supporting workers and communities through the transition.