A Call for Policy Changes to Create More and Better Jobs in Canada’s Energy Sector

In a study released on October 27, John Calvert and Marjorie Griffin Cohen of Simon Fraser University in Vancouver provide a detailed discussion of employment trends in Canada’s energy sector by gender, age, types of occupations, and level of trade union membership. The study finds that, in virtually all areas of energy development, there are skill shortages and the need for additional training. These short­ages cover a wide range of different occupations, from engineers and archi­tects to skilled trades, equipment operators, technicians and labourers. Although the renewable energy industry is more labour-intensive than the traditional energy sector, the authors consider its job creation potential as small, given the current policy environment. For example, they characterize job creation in green electricity projects as creating only a small number of permanent jobs, with most job creation in short-term construction jobs, usually in non-union projects. This, they say, is primarily be­cause most new green electricity projects are being built by the private sec­tor. In examining the role of labour unions in policy development, the authors find that their role to date has been largely restricted to dealing with training and other aspects of workforce development. Calvert and Cohen call for a new, comprehensive energy strategy which gives priority to the urgent need to address global warming, and which incorporates a green employment component.


Climate Change and the Canadian Energy Sector: Implications for Labour and Trade Unions is available at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives website at:



For an earlier analysis by Calvert and Cohen, see their chapter (pages 48- 80) in What Do We Know? What Do We Need to Know? The State of Research On Work, Employment and Climate Change in Canada (Final Report)(2010) at the W3 website at:



See commentary on the report on Keith Brooks’ blog at BlueGreen Canada at: http://www.bluegreencanada.ca/node/117

Canadian Marine Renewable Energy Industry Sets out its Vision and Strategy; Nova Scotia Develops Policies and Legislation

Based on the discussions in three workshops involving more than 100 experts from government, industry and academia, a national vision and strategy for marine energy has been released at the end of October. Charting the Course: Canada’s Marine Renewable Energy Technology Roadmap sets a vision of becoming a world leader in marine energy,with a generating capacity, installed by Canadian industry, of 75 MW by 2016, 250 MW by 2020 and 2,000 MW by 2030, with an annual economic value of $2 billion. Regarding the skills demands of the industry, the report states that the marine renewable energy sector is applying general electrical engineering, ocean engineering, and marine operations expertise from other sectors. “As the sector grows, it is unclear whether future needs can be met through the training and expertise developed in other sectors alone. Building a marine renewable energy-specific knowledge base that addresses the specialized needs of the sector can focus efforts to establish a Canadian advantage”. Specifically, the document calls for action to set up trades and technology programs in all aspects of marine renewable energy at community colleges between 2011 and 2016, while developing university programs in the same time frame. The goal is that by 2020-2030, 70% of skilled workers in the industry will come from Canadian community college and university programs.

In a report released to the public on September 21, Robert Fournier of Dalhousie University provided the government of Nova Scotia with a compilation of the views from public consultations on offshore wind and tidal energy in the province, and has made 27 recommendations for the future of marine renewable energy policy and legislation. In discussing the advantages of Nova Scotia for marine energy production, Fournier points out that in addition to the obvious natural advantage of the strong tides of the Bay of Fundy, “The Halifax-Dartmouth area is widely acknowledged to be among the top 5-6 global centers of marine-related research. These human skills are an important resource contributing to all facets of a fledging marine renewable energy initiative”. The government has already accepted Dr. Fournier’s recommendations and is in the process of developing a Marine Renewable Energy Strategy and new legislation. This swift action is in line with Nova Scotia’s Renewable Electricity Plan and regulations, which lay out a legal requirement to achieve 25% renewable electricity supply by 2015, using only environmentally-friendly sources such as hydro, wind, solar, biomass, and tidal.


Charting the Course: Canada’s Marine Renewable Energy Technology Roadmap is available at:


The Fournier Report, Marine Renewable Energy Legislation: A Consultative Process. Report to the Government of Nova Scotia is available in English at:  


In French at:



For a library of international documents concerning marine energy, please visit the Ocean Renewable Energy Group library at:


Wind Energy Plan for B.C.

WindVision 2025: A Strategy for British Columbia, was released by the Canadian Wind Energy Association at its annual conference in Vancouver on October 4th. CanWEA believes that the share of wind energy as a percentage of total generation in the province can increase from the current 250 MW (megawatts) – or 1 % of electricity demand – to 5,250 MW, or 17 %, by the year 2025. If this is achieved, the Association projects over $3.7 billion of direct benefits to BC communities during the construction phase alone, generating an estimated 22,500 person-years of employment during construction, and 7,500 person-years of employment over the 20 to 25 year lifespan of the wind energy projects.



Windvision 2025 is available at:



The accompanying review of the plan by consultants ClearSky Advisors is available at: http://www.canwea.ca/pdf/clearsky-review-windvision-bc.pdf

Greenbuild Conference in Toronto: October 4-7, 2011

For the first time ever, the annual Greenbuild International Conference was held outside the United States, in Toronto from October 4 to 7. Greenbuild, launched in 2002 and organized by the U.S. Green Building Council, attracts a diverse international group of building industry representatives, architects, and product manufacturers. This year, the Green Jobs Summit session of the conference highlighted several keynote speakers including Ken Neumann, National Director of Canada for the United Steelworkers. A new study by McGraw Hill Construction was presented, surveying design and construction professionals and trades workers in the U.S.. It defined “green jobs” as those involving more than 50% of work on green projects or designing and installing uniquely green systems. It found that skilled trades such as carpenters, HVAC/boilermakers, electricians, concrete/cement masons, and plumbers are expected to see the greatest growth in green jobs; 15% of these trades today are green jobs, and this is expected to increase to 25% in three years. 30% of green job workers said that they needed major training when they started, and most report that formal education and training programs will continue to be needed.


The Canadian Construction Sector Council (CSC) reported results of their own survey in March 2011, regarding trends, training and skills levels in Canada’s green building industry. The CSC’s annual Construction Looking Forward survey for 2011 was released in April 2011 and forecasts offer a detailed nine-year scenario of workforce supply and demand by trade, province and region.



Press release of the McGraw Hill Construction Green Jobs report is at: http://www.construction.com/AboutUs/2011/1004pr.asp


Canada’s Construction Sector Council (March 2011) Green Sustainable Building in Canada: Implications for the commercial and residential construction workforce can be ordered at no cost from:



Construction Looking Forward 2011 National and Provincial reports are available at: http://www.csc-ca.org/en/products/2011-construction-looking-forward-forecast-reports-and-highlights

New CAW Policy on Transportation puts Sustainability as a Priority

At the first ever CAW Transportation Conference, held from September 23-25, the Canadian Auto Workers discussed a draft version of a new policy for transportation in Canada. The starting point of the policy is that “transportation must change”, because of three forces: climate change, peak oil, and globalization. The union states its goal: “to create a made-in Canada transportation system that is the most efficient, accessible, green and safe in the world”, based on four overarching principles: the transportation system must be environmentally sustainable, recognized as a public good, made-in-Canada, and a place for good jobs. For each of the transportation sectors (road, rail, air, marine) the paper outlines issues and proposes very specific solutions and policy goals. The document and an accompanying action plan will be discussed and voted on by the National Executive Board, and CAW and Quebec Councils.


We make it move: a vision for sustainable transportation at:



Press release about the Transportation conference at:


How do International Labour Unions Conceptualize the Jobs vs. Environment Debate?

Authors Nora Rathzel (Dept. of Sociology, Umeå University, Sweden) and David Uzzell (Department of Psychology, University of Surrey, England) have published an academic article which focuses on the ways in which international trade unions are conceptualising the relationship between jobs and the environment. Between March 2009 and December 2010, 35 interviews were conducted with union officials of national unions in Brazil, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, and the UK, as well as with international federation officers of these unions in Brussels, Geneva, London and Paris. On the basis of these interviews, the authors present and discuss four discourses of trade union engagement with climate change: ‘technological fix’, ‘social transformation’, ‘mutual interests’ and ‘social movement’, in the context of the different international histories and models of trade unionism.


Rathzel, Nora & Uzzell, David. 2011. “Trade unions and climate change: The jobs versus environment dilemma”. Global Environmental Change 21 (4): 1215-1223. Available at: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/7307/2/Microsoft Word – GEC_Jobs-Environment.pdf

Ontario Government Launches Review of Feed-in Tariffs

All Ontarians are invited to participate in the review of the FIT Program, either by answering an online survey or making a written submission. The consultation period launched on October 31 and will run until December 14, 2011. The scope of the review includes whether FIT pricing maintains a balance between the interests of ratepayers and the continued encouragement of clean energy investment in Ontario, as well as “an assessment of government policies and tools to ensure that Ontario remains a center of manufacturing excellence and clean energy job creation”. More details and the online survey are available at the Feed-in Tariff Review website at:


Canada’s Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainability Releases Audit Report

The report discusses the federal government’s assessment of cumulative environmental effects of oil sands projects in northern Alberta, and its climate change plans under the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act. Among the findings: “decisions about oil sands projects have been based on incomplete, poor, or non-existent environmental information that has, in turn, led to poorly informed decisions”. Regarding the climate change plans under the Kyoto Protocol, the Commissioner notes that the plans do not report the total amount of government funding, and that financial information for the individual measures is not reported consistently (and even that some of the measures do not include any financial information). In this report, the auditors determine the funding allocations associated with each measure in the plans, and conclude that the federal government allocated over $9.2 billion to implement its climate change plans.

See the Audit report of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development at: http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/docs/parl_cesd_201110_00_e.pdf (English) and http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/docs/parl_cesd_201110_00_f.pdf (French)
The reaction of the Pembina Institute is at: http://www.pembina.org/media-release/2276  


Economic Impact on Canada of GHG Emissions, and a Closer Look at the Forest Industry, Coastal Areas, and Human Health

At the end of September, the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy released the 4th report in its Climate Prosperity series. Paying the Price: the Economic Impacts of Climate Change for Canada warns that unless global greenhouse gas emissions are reduced and Canada invests in adaptation, the economic impacts of climate change on Canada could reach $5 billion per year by 2020, and between $21 and $43 billion per year by 2050. Because climate change impacts will differ by sector and by region, the report also considers adaptation strategies and provides estimates of economic impacts and cost-effectiveness of those strategies for three representative areas: timber supply, coastal areas and human health.  Economic impacts are measured in changes to GDP, but the report does not specifically measure impacts on employment. Read Paying the price: the economic impacts of climate change for Canada (168 pages) at:

http://nrtee-trnee.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/paying-the-price.pdf (English) and http://nrtee-trnee.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/prix-a-payer.pdf (French)

New Skills Training for Wind, Wave and Tidal Energy Jobs in the U.K.

RenewableUK, a renewable energy trade association, announced the creation of the Renewables Training Network (RTN) on October 6, 2011. With £600,000 support from private industry and matching investment from the UK government, the training network “will address critical skills shortages within the renewable energy industry”, and according to the press release, the network is “paving the way for over 77,500 new jobs in UK wind, wave and tidal industries and supply chain within next ten years”. This investment follows on a survey, Working for a Green Britain: Future Employment and Skills in the UK Wind & Marine Industries published by the association in July 2011. See the Training Network press release at:



see Working for a Green Britain at:


CAW Launches New Course Re Good Jobs in a Green Economy

Twenty-five CAW rank-and-file activists attended the first pilot session of a new course that ran from October 3-6. The program included keynote speakers Tony Clarke, Executive Director of the Polaris Institute and Gideon Forman, Executive Director of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment. The course provided an overview of some of the key environmental issues, including climate change, food security and water issues, and discussed the transformation needed to fight for a green economy, examined the impacts on workers and the role that unions can play, and enabled participants to build activist links within the CAW and with allied environmental organizations.

See the press release at: