200,000 High-Carbon Workers Face a “Terminal Decline” Without Federal Support

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People living and working in Canada’s high-carbon oil, gas and coal towns are worried about the impact of moving to a zero-carbon economy will have on their livelihoods – and for good reason.

According to a column published in the Hill Times by researcher Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood, hundreds of thousands of Canadians face a “terminal decline” as Canadian governments ramp up their climate policy ambitions.

“At the extreme, nearly the entire economy of Fort McMurray, Alta., is directly tied to the oil industry, including one in every three jobs,” writes Mertins-Kirkwood. “Canada’s social safety system isn’t robust enough to support a ‘just and fair transition’ to the clean economy for all workers, leaving fossil fuel-dependent communities at risk.”

In his new report titled “Making decarbonization work for workers: Policies for a just transition to a zero-carbon economy in Canada,” co-published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces project (ACW), Mertins-Kirkwood shows potentially affected fossil fuel workers are not limited to Alberta. From Fort St. John B.C., to Bay Roberts, N.L., there are communities across the country with deep dependence on the fossil fuel industry, “And they are vulnerable,” he warns.

Communities concerned about the need for a just transition for affected high-carbon workers will be watching the federal budget closely when it is released on February 27. In his column, Mertins-Kirkwood says, “It’s time our government put forward a plan to fulfill its promise of a ‘just and fair transition’ to the clean economy.”

 

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