Greens Unveil Job Transition Plan for Fossil Fuel Work Force
With the federal election campaign about to hit high gear, Green Party leader Elizabeth May was in Vancouver last week to unveil a plan to extend the federal government’s existing job transition plan for coal workers to oil and gas.
“It’s critical that workers in fossil fuel industries and fossil fuel-dependent communities not fear for their future,” May said. “We are not at war with fossil fuel workers. We are not at all willing to leave any part of Canada or any community behind.”
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CBC says the highlights of the plan include:
• Retraining and apprenticeship programs to help industrial tradespeople refocus their skills into the renewable energy sector;
• Launching a massive cleanup program for orphaned oil wells, some of which can be repurposed as geothermal sites;
• A national building energy retrofit program;
• A transition framework that reflects each province’s “unique resources and circumstances”;
• Partnerships with Indigenous communities to accelerate renewable energy development on their lands.
National Observer says the Green plan includes jobs for 20,000 electricians to build the country’s renewable grid, with boilermakers and pipefitters applying their skills in geothermal production. “In terms of training, I hope we’re ahead of the curve on that,” responded Jim Lofty, business manager at Local 213 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, noting that his trade has been preparing for a job transition for some time. “But we would be very open to getting infrastructure money or training funds from the government to help.”
He added that governments’ offers of training funds have mostly been aspirational so far. “I think those goals should be set, I’m not saying they shouldn’t be saying it, but you’re not going to be able to effect that change immediately,” he said. “It’s one thing to say we’re going to give you millions of dollars. It’s another thing to actually get it implemented and actually see the results of that.”
During her media event, May endorsed the federal coal transition plan, Observer reports, adding that visiting affected communities as the transition task force did can help build trust with oil and gas communities.
“There’s more trust in honesty. We can say this is the plan, this is the timeline, and how much time do you need to adjust? What are your needs?” May told media. “Empowerment and agency are the things that remove fear for all of us.”
Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi welcomed the Greens’ support for the coal transition plan. “As Canada moves away from the use of coal, we are making sure we leave no worker or community behind,” he tweeted.