Published On: June 15, 2023

Unceded Algonquin Anishinaabe Territories [OTTAWA], 15 June 2023:

Climate Action Network Canada welcomes the Sustainable Jobs Act, introduced today in the House of Commons by Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson. The bill marks a long-awaited step forward towards legislating a good, secure future for workers.

The bill contains promising elements, including an aim to create good, sustainable jobs with the right to unionize, as well as language on social dialogue, rights at work, job security and social protection. Unions, workers, and civil society have worked hard to advocate for these pieces and for well-paid, high-quality work in the transition to a green economy.

However, the legislation must be amended to offer a vision of what Canada needs to be moving away from – the instability and destruction of a fossil-fuelled and carbon-intensive economy – and what we should be moving towards – the opportunities of renewable energy and a focus on healthier, more sustainable communities. To truly address the climate crisis, Canada will need well-planned transitions across all sectors: in our energy systems, lands and ecosystems, urban and infrastructure systems, and industrial systems. The bill also does not enshrine regional planning mechanisms, which are key to translating the legislation into action, or establish nation-to-nation mechanisms with Indigenous Peoples.

The ongoing wildfires have shed light on the double challenge confronting communities dependent on the oil and gas sector – they are often on the front lines of climate impacts as well as facing work insecurity. The federal government must give them the support and tools they need to thrive amid the global energy transition.

Discussions on a Just Transition Work Programme are now concluding at the Bonn Climate Change Conference, where the scope of the conversation was broader and included the socio-economic dimensions of the transition. Canada should heed this signal: the bill is only one piece in the broader package we need for a holistic Just Transition that leaves no one behind. The federal government must improve and address the gaps in the first draft of this legislation, while also moving forward with a solid green industrial strategy, inclusive regional planning mechanisms, full respect of Indigenous rights and sovereignty, and addressing the injustices faced by the people most marginalized by our current systems.


Caroline Brouillette, Executive Director, Climate Action Network – Réseau action climat Canada:

“After years of mobilization from labour unions and the climate justice movement, Canada has finally guaranteed workers a seat at the decision-making table about their future through the Sustainable Jobs Act.

“The transition towards a climate-safe economy is already underway. The question is how it will happen: whether the transition will truly be just and aligned with the imperative to limit warming to 1.5°C. CAN-Rac will push for the amendments process to ensure the Act aligns with Canada’s climate objectives and centres communities most impacted by and dependent on and extractive industries.”

Natalie Odd, Executive Director, Alberta Environmental Network:

“The Sustainable Jobs Act is a welcome starting point. A large and growing majority of Albertans believe that we need to transition off of fossil fuels. Our group is speaking to Albertans in depth on the doorsteps. Most are very concerned about climate change and they are seeing Oil & Gas companies making record profits while receiving subsidies and laying off thousands of Alberta workers. Our healthcare and education services are eroding; the sharp rise in the cost of living is making life extremely difficult for Albertans. We are struggling just as others are across Canada. This is not fair, it is not right, it is not safe, it is not healthy. We expect and trust that you will amend and strengthen this bill so that it serves all Canadians.”

Dylan Penner, Climate and Social Justice Campaigner, Council of Canadians:

“This legislation only includes part of what the climate crisis demands, and it comes without the necessary investments to address the crises we face. There are some steps outlined in the Sustainable Jobs Act to support and involve affected workers and communities, but even those are vague. MPs need to amend this legislation to include all of the key just transition principles and policies that workers, communities, Indigenous peoples, movements, and climate science require. That includes a just transition that winds down fossil fuel use and rejects false solutions. Otherwise, it’ll be another piece of climate policy that puts corporate profits before workers, communities, and the planet.”

Seth Klein, Team Lead, Climate Emergency Unit:

“This bill is incongruent with the task at hand, and ultimately of little consequence as drafted. It establishes a framework to guide the development of a sustainable jobs plan, but it is not itself a plan. Indeed, the act only requires that the government table a first Sustainable Jobs Action Plan in December of 2025, meaning after the next federal election. Most importantly, the act is not backed up by investments of consequence in actual sustainable jobs. Rather, as recent announcements by Equinor, Suncore and Enbridge make clear, the government seems content to let fossil fuel corporations themselves decide which oil and gas projects will proceed and the fate of affected workers and communities.”

Aliénor Rougeot, Climate and Energy Program Manager, Environmental Defence:

“The legislation provides a welcome commitment to including workers and communities in the preparation for the energy transition. The Act however fails to meet the urgency of the climate crisis, at a time when communities across Canada are experiencing its devastating impacts. Members of Parliament must work together to strengthen it to avoid dangerous pitfalls like false climate solutions and ignoring obligations towards Indigenous peoples.”

Andréanne Brazeau, Climate Policy Analyst, Équiterre:

“Canadian civil society has long been calling for legislation designed to support workers and communities in preparing and adapting to the realities and challenges of the transition to net zero, without leaving anyone behind. This is an important social step forward, but let’s be clear: this first version of the bill must be improved. A bill on sustainable jobs that fails to mention fossil fuels is incoherent. We’ll be putting the necessary pressure on the government to ensure that this shortcoming is corrected during the parliamentary proceedings.”

Amara Possian, Canada Team Lead,

“Canada is literally on fire right now, with unprecedented wildfires burning from coast to coast, but this draft legislation fails to address the root cause of the climate crisis: fossil fuels. Parliament must deliver the rapid, just transition to 100% renewable energy that climate science demands. This bill is a prime example of Trudeau’s tricky brand of climate denial: no specifics, no urgency, and no mention of “justice” or “transition.””

Melissa Gorrie, Law Reform Manager, Ecojustice:

“This legislation includes some promising elements but does not go far enough. Amendments are required to ensure the transition to a low-carbon future is just, and centres the needs of Indigenous Peoples, workers and impacted communities. For example, the legislation should include mechanisms that enable Indigenous Peoples to engage as equal partners in deciding how the transition will occur on their territories.”

Bea Bruske, President, Canadian Labour Congress:

“Thanks to the NDP’s influence with the Supply and Confidence Agreement and the work of trade unions over the last decade, the Sustainable Jobs Act will provide an opportunity to establish a better model for collaboration between workers, their unions, industry, and governments. This can give Canada a competitive advantage in the new global low-carbon economy, while ensuring benefits for workers and communities.”

Laura Cameron, Policy Advisor, International Institute for Sustainable Development:

“We must move quickly to build a bridge to a society beyond oil and gas; the Sustainable Jobs Act provides key pieces of the scaffolding needed to do so. This legislation is essential—but must be further strengthened to ensure that workers, Indigenous peoples, and communities have a hands-on role in constructing equitable, low carbon economies.”

Bert Blundon, President, National Union of Public and General Employees:

“NUPGE welcomes the long-awaited Sustainable Jobs Act. It is critical that governments be proactive in taking steps to support workers and communities and ensure they have a voice in the transition to a low-carbon economy. This legislation must represent the first, not the last, step. We expect that workers and communities will be at the table. And not just being consulted, but as active partners in developing Just Transition plans and programs at every step of the way, at all levels of government, across all regions, and sectors.”

Meg Gingrich, President, Blue Green Canada:

“The Sustainable Jobs Act represents a decent framework to create and maintain good, green, union jobs in Canada. We must remain vigilant to ensure that the plan’s implementation lives up to its promise. Blue Green Canada will continue to demand a solid commitment to both jobs and climate action. We will advocate for increased union participation at all levels, stronger support for affected workers and communities, and for the needed funding and financing to achieve climate goals while creating good, union jobs.”

Dr. Samantha Green, president-elect of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) and family physician in Toronto:

“We must make an urgent transition away from fossil fuels across our society, in order to protect the health of people and the planet. That transition needs to be fair and equitable for workers and for communities affected by the transition. People also need access to safe, stable, and decent work in order to be healthy. This legislation provides a first step towards this goal, but we need to define what is a sustainable job and exclude fossil fuels from that definition.

Beth Lorimer, Ecological Justice Program Coordinator, KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives:

“To effectively solve the climate crisis, we must address its root causes and urgently shift away from fossil fuels. While we appreciate the cooperative approach taken in the development of this legislation, the government must ensure this legislation follows through on commitments to uphold Indigenous rights and sovereignty and support marginalized communities. We need a holistic approach to achieve an effective energy transition that builds economies of care, supports life, and addresses inequities.”

Shanaaz Gokool, Executive Director, Leadnow:

“The wildfires raging across Canada right now make it clear that a transition away from fossil fuels is urgently needed to build a safe, healthy, and sustainable future for everyone. The government cannot squander the opportunity this legislation provides to explicitly lay out a vision for a shift from fossil fuels that puts our communities, workers, and people first – and not the interests of the fossil fuel industry. It’s what Canadians deserve.”

Cathy Orlando, National Director of Citizens’ Climate Lobby Canada:

“Embrace the energy transition. The data is clear that there will be more jobs in the energy sector in a sustainable economy. The transition must be fair and leave no one behind and we must play to our strengths regionally and thus cooperate in the confederation.”

Clay Duncalfe, National Convener, Green Economy Network:

“The Sustainable Jobs bill marks a positive step forward towards ensuring the transition to a net-zero economy puts workers first. Its success in achieving this goal will be determined by its willingness to provide the comprehensive funding needed for the creation of good, green jobs across Canada and through continued engagement with the labour movement. The bill should be strengthened by explicitly recognizing the essential role transitioning away from carbon-intensive production will play in the path to net-zero, and by improving its commitment to providing supports for affected workers and communities.”


Canada’s farthest-reaching network of organizations working on climate and energy issues, Climate Action Network – Réseau action climat (CAN-Rac) Canada is a coalition of 150 organizations operating from coast to coast to coast. Our membership brings environmental groups together with trade unions, First Nations, social justice, development, health and youth organizations, faith groups and local, grassroots initiatives.

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:

Vicky Coo, Communications Lead

Photo credit: Province of British Columbia