Earth Day 2023: Canada’s unions call on governments to put workers and communities first

April 21, 2023

This year’s Earth Day theme, Invest in Our Planet, is a timely reminder of the need for our elected leaders to take ambitious and necessary action to tackle the climate emergency. Canada’s unions are calling on the government to move towards a net-zero carbon economy with workers and communities at its core. 

As communities across the country and around the world grapple with the impacts of climate change, it is crucial that we work together to drive down emissions and hit our climate targets. 

“We cannot afford to ignore the looming threat of the climate crisis. Global economies are shifting to address climate change, which means jobs and work will also evolve. Workers and unions must be at the decision-making table to make sure no one is left behind,” said Bea Bruske, President of the Canadian Labour Congress. 

Bruske added, “Make no mistake; when governments are investing in sustainable jobs, labour rights are a must. Social protection is essential. Workers are at the forefront of Canada’s changing climate, and they deserve to bring their concerns, skills, and expertise to the table. Now is the time to ensure that all workers – especially those who have been historically marginalized – have their voices heard.” 

Canada’s unions welcome investments to date, such as increases to the Union Training and Innovation Program under the Canada Sustainable Jobs Plan and tax credits designed to spur investment in emissions-reducing projects and technologies while incentivizing the creation of good-paying, sustainable jobs. The federal government’s commitment to tie labour requirements to clean energy tax credits in Budget 2023, including prevailing wage levels and apprenticeship training opportunities, is particularly welcome.  

However, this is just a start. Moving towards a sustainable economy requires ambitious, targeted investments to meet climate targets while protecting and creating good, unionized work. It necessitates meaningful collaboration and social dialogue between organized labour, governments, and businesses to provide good-paying, secure jobs – and there must be pathways into these jobs for women, Indigenous and racialized workers, and other equity-seeking groups. 

“More action is needed to ensure jobs in the sustainable economy provide fair compensation and benefits, health and safety protections, democratic representation in the workplace, and opportunities for equity,” said Larry Rousseau, Executive Vice-President of the CLC. “Concrete action – and investments – are vital for our collective wellbeing. For our planet and our communities, we must act now.” 

Add your voice to call for a Just Transition that puts sustainable, healthy, and resilient communities at the heart of climate action.

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