Federal Labor Minister Seamus O’Regan stopped in Edmonton Friday to tout his government’s work with unions in developing its plan to help transition energy workers to a green economy.
The Liberals have set aside a $2 billion Futures Fund to support fossil fuel-reliant provinces like Alberta, but the government is still in consultation on its Just Transition plan intended to support workers affected by the transition to a low-carbon economy.
O’Regan said it will be released “very soon” and he expects “significant” investments, with many coming from the corporate sector.
“That plan is going to be sweeping and doesn’t just involve what we refer to as Just Transition, which is about workers, but it’s also about energy transition — they are absolutely interlinked,” he said.
“The jobs that we’re creating in renewable energy need to be good jobs.”
Alberta Federation of Labor president Gil McGowan said at the news conferences labor leaders have been telling government leaders there is a need for major infrastructure investments.
“Don’t just give us promises of training alone. Give us a plan, give us projects, give us jobs — we’ll do the rest,” said McGowan.
“We need a plan for economic transformation and the money and the political will to back it up. That doesn’t mean shutting down our oil and gas sector, but it does mean helping them pivot, and decarbonize so that they can remain competitive and viable for as long as possible,” he said.
Associate Finance Minister and Edmonton Center MP Randy Boissonnault said the “evolution of energy” will require investments of between $100 billion to $125 billion per year until 2050 for it to be done.
“If we think $2 billion is going to get us to where we need to get, then we’ve got to have a reset of expectations,” he said, pointing to the federal government’s investment in Alberta of $1 billion towards orphan well cleanup, as well as the $15 billion Canada Growth Fund.