In a November 5 article, “ Federal panel privately urges Trudeau government to do more for coal workers” , National Observer reporter Carl Meyer reveals that the Just Transition Task Force Interim Report is already in the hands of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, though not yet publicly available. Canada’s Just Transition Task Force was launched in April 2018 – an 11-member advisory group co-chaired by Canadian Labour Congress president Hassan Yussuff, to “ provide advice on how to make the transition away from coal a fair one for workers and communities.” The Task Force Terms of Reference allowed for 9 months for the report; Environment and Climate Change Minister McKenna said on November 2 : “We’re still reviewing the report, but as we talk about the need to power past coal and our commitment in Canada to phase out coal by 2030, we know there has to be a priority to supporting workers and communities.” A formal response is expected in November, and given the Minister’s leadership role in the international Powering Past Coal Alliance and the public spotlight of the upcoming COP24 meetings in Katowice Poland in early December, that deadline is likely to be met.
The National Observer article of November 5, along with an April 2018 article about the Task Force launch, provide good background to the Task Force. The new article emphasizes the different needs of different provinces – notably Alberta, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. Most of the article is based on interviews with a few Task Force members.
But what are the Report’s Recommendations? One member states that “A lot of the recommendations are directly connected to what we heard from municipalities, from workers, from unions and from communities.” The comments about the actual recommendations are far from earth-shattering, but include: 1. Just Transition policies should be enshrined in legislation so that they are not as vulnerable to changing governments; 2. The government should commit to infrastructure funding for municipalities in order to attract other businesses and offset job losses; 3. Support to workers should be extended, to help people quickly and efficiently access benefits like employment insurance, retraining, and relocation assistance. These fall along the same lines as the 2017 Recommendations from the Alberta Advisory Panel on Coal Communities , which are more detailed and which also accounted for First Nations issues.
A list of Task Force members is here. In addition to co-Chair Hassan Yussuff, there are members from the CLC, the Alberta Federation of Labour, United Steelworkers, Unifor, and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.