Some of the federal government’s climate targets and policies may have an adverse effect on low-income Canadians, according to a report published by Environment and Climate Change Canada on Feb. 17. The report states that these measures could lead to increased vehicle and fuel costs, and that large-scale infrastructure projects like transmission lines could impact Indigenous Rights.
The report also notes that a “sizeable workforce” will likely need to transition out of Canada’s oil and gas sector in the coming years, and that understanding the impacts of these changes on population groups and regions is important. Additionally, the report states that the environment department does not have any data on the potential unintended consequences of its climate program.
In response to these changes, the federal government recently released its “just transition” plan, which outlines proposed steps toward moving Canada’s oil and gas workers into green-energy jobs. The plan states that between now and 2050 there will be a “continuing but declining demand for oil and gas in conventional combustion applications.” The government has also set a goal of reaching national “net-zero” greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and announced in December 2022 that all new vehicle sales must be emissions-free by 2035.
The Sustainable Jobs Plan also says that Ottawa plans on introducing legislation this year that will outline “a framework for accountability, engagement and transparency” in the planned workers’ transition. A memo prepared for Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson in June 2022 said that over 2.7 million Canadian workers will face “significant” job disruptions in sectors affected by the proposed “just transition” legislation. Wilkinson has said the transition plan will create job growth, and that he is more worried about there not being enough workers to fill the jobs than workers being unable to find other good-paying jobs.