TORONTO—If the federal government flipped the $1.3 billion in subsidies it hands to the fossil fuel sector over the renewable sector, Canada would gain 18,000 new jobs and untold financial rewards.
These are the findings of Blue Green Canada’s latest study, More bang for our Buck: How Canada can create more energy jobs and less pollution.
Based in Toronto, Blue Green Canada is an alliance of Canadian labour unions, environmental and civil society organizations. It says investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency would create more jobs than the same amount of investment currently committed to fossil fuels.
“It’s time to pull the plug on the $1.3 billion of taxpayers’ money handed to big polluters each year,” said Gillian McEachern of Environmental Defence, an enviro lobby group based in Toronto. “Canadians can get more bang for our buck— more jobs, more wealth and better economic stability—by investing in industries that help prevent climate change rather than those that make it worse.”
The report documents the growing global job market in renewable energy where approximately five million people were employed worldwide last year. It contends Canada is at risk of being left behind as forward-thinking countries invest in renewable energy and reap the financial rewards.
“The federal government needs to recognize the potential to create jobs while thinking long-term for the health of the environment,” said Dave Coles, national president of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP). “The oil sands provide our workers with jobs, but the current pace of expansion of that industry is not good for the stability of our communities or the environment. We need to get serious about the transition to clean energy, and that includes having a plan for putting people to work.”
The report says volatile revenues and pricing for oil is why expensive oil sands projects were hit the hardest during the recession while investment in renewable energy continued. Expanding oil exports also worsens the impacts of the Canada’s petro-stoked dollar, which makes it very difficult for Canada’s large manufacturing industry to sell goods abroad and compete with imported goods at home.