Ottawa releases interim Sustainable Jobs Plan

But union calls for 'just transition' for workers

Ottawa releases interim Sustainable Jobs Plan

Looking for Canada to lead the world with the resources and technologies it will need for generations to come, the federal government has released its interim Sustainable Jobs Plan that details how it will create middle class jobs across the country.

With highly skilled and dedicated workers, abundant natural resources and energy sources critical for a net-zero future, and a thriving clean technology industry, Canada is uniquely positioned to seize the moment, according to the federal government.

"Canada has what it takes to become the clean energy and technology supplier of choice in a net-zero world,” said Jonathan Wilkinson, minister of natural resources. “With this plan, the federal government is taking yet another step forward to ensure that Canada's workers have the skills and support necessary to seize this generational opportunity."

Employers with high-level ESG scores are rated as attractive by both employees and potential future hires, according to a previous report from Mercer.

Plan specifics

This interim plan defines the federal government's commitment to make progress on 10 key action areas:

  1. Establish the Sustainable Jobs Secretariat, a new sustainable jobs stream under the Union Training and Innovation Program. The 2022 Fall Economic Statement proposed providing $250 million over five years to Employment and Social Development Canada, which will be directed to the Sustainable Jobs Secretariat.
  2. Create a Sustainable Jobs Partnership Council, which will provide independent and ongoing advice to government on the most effective measures, and conduct sustained engagement with workers, unions, industry and Canadians more broadly as part of the social dialogue.
  3. Develop economic strategies through the Regional Energy and Resource Tables, which is a collaborative initiative that brings the federal, provincial and territorial governments together with Indigenous partners, union partners, workers, municipalities, industry, experts and civil society to advance the top economic priorities in the energy and resource sectors in each of Canada’s regions.
  4. Introduce a sustainable jobs stream under the Union Training and Innovation Program, launched in 2017-2018, which has provided union-based apprenticeship training, innovation and enhanced partnerships in the Red Seal trades through two streams of funding.
  5. Advance funding for skills development towards sustainable jobs.
  6. Promote Indigenous-led solutions and a National Benefits-Sharing Framework, which will seek to ensure that First Nations and Métis communities directly benefit from major resource projects.
  7. Improve labour market data collection, tracking and analysis, by supporting continued investment in internal and external research and data developments to improve understanding of current and future labour market conditions.
  8. Motivate investors and draw in industry leadership to support workers.
  9. Collaborate and lead on the global stage.
  10. Establish legislation that ensures ongoing engagement and accountability. Which will include guiding principles, governance structures and reporting requirements.

Recently, research from Robert Half found that 51% of organizations are set on upping their recruitment plans in the first half of 2023.


Numerous stakeholders welcomed the interim plan.

"The Sustainable Jobs interim plan and its vision to connect with the work of industries and partners already underway in communities across Canada is a strong next step toward reaching our net-zero targets,” said Pedro Barata, executive director, Future Skills Centre. “We know transition pathways will be the most effective, sustainable, and equity-focused when they are rooted in tangible opportunities for workers and communities, and we are committed to working with partners to identify and scale opportunities in the future."

"Canadian unions welcome a worker-centered approach to creating jobs in the net-zero economy,” said Bea Bruske, president of the Canadian Labour Congress. “We are pleased to see the government committed to having workers at the table as part of the decision-making process as the world of work changes. The next thing workers will be looking for are the real dollar investments and commitments to net-zero pathways, and the good union jobs these will create."

However, the program is at risk of failing to attain its objectives, according to the Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN).

"The government knows full well that it is critical that workers have a place at the table to discuss the future of sectors most impacted by climate chaos, as well as to offer training and guarantied income to help them transition to more sustainable jobs,” said Caroline Senneville, president of the CSN.

“The Trudeau government has a history of setting ambitious targets that seem nice on paper while neglecting to give themselves the necessary tools to achieve these targets. It seems highly unrealistic to promise the creation of so many green jobs without first going through the process of a just transition for the most impacted workers by climate change.”

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