Labour, Civil Society Groups Call for Climate Budget

Labour, Civil Society Groups Urge Federal Government to Give Canadians the Climate-Crisis Budget They Want and Need, Including Green-Jobs Training

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                       

Unceded Algonquin Anishinaabe Territories [OTTAWA]: March 10, 2020  – Representatives ​from labour, social justice, Indigenous, faith and environmental organizations today called on the Government of Canada to greatly increase ​the funds and programs needed to build a sustainable economy and drastically cut emissions.

“This is the first budget of a new century – a century that will transform the ways global citizens use energy, build communities, and grapple with the fallout of an economic system that consistently fails people and the planet,” said Catherine Abreu, Executive Director of Climate Action Network Canada, which brings together 120 civil society organizations working on climate change and clean energy. “Change is inevitable and Canada has a choice to make: we use this moment to invest in people and take charge of that transformation, or we continue to double down on the status quo and get left behind.”

“In a world moving away from fossil fuels, we should not be using limited government resources on providing huge subsidies to the very industry that would have us blow past our climate targets,” said Julia Levin, Climate and Energy Program Manager at Environmental Defence. “In this budget the federal government should instead invest in the creation of stable, green careers and the transformative change required to ensure our communities remain resilient and thriving.”

Lindsey Bacigal, Communications Director, Indigenous Climate Action, expressed the necessity of including Indigenous rights and sovereignty within discussions on climate solutions.  “Within the upcoming federal budget, there must be an increased recognition of non-market solutions to the climate crisis that uphold and reflect the rights of Indigenous Peoples. We need viable climate solutions that uplift the power of communities, value Indigenous traditional knowledge systems and ontologies, and invest in Indigenous based and led solutions grounded in a return of Indigenous lands and resources.”

Representatives from two of Canada’s major unions called for a national green-jobs training program that would demonstrate the government’s commitment to energy and other workers.

“A National Retraining Program is one of the most vital components to ensure a fair transition,” said Ken Bondy, National Representative, Unifor.  “Unifor encourages green job training that does not de-skill traditional trades and will provide opportunities to expand job creation in renewable energy manufacturing.  Transition to a more sustainable economy is the critical challenge of our lifetime, but it will only be successful with worker input and support.”

“For a successful transition to a clean economy, Canada must work to ensure jobs,” noted Julee Sanderson, 1st National Vice-President, Canadian Union of Postal Workers.  “It will be the labour movement that sees to it that workers, whose jobs are displaced, are retrained and that they and their families are supported, not left behind.”

The faith community also made it clear they want to see provisions and funding for thoughtful climate action in the budget. “For people of faith, climate change is an issue that reaches to the core of who we are and how we are to live in God’s world,” said Karri Munn-Venn, Senior Policy Analyst, Citizens for Public Justice. “We urge the government to invest in a just transition towards a modernized, diversified green economy that will reduce emissions, create secure, green jobs, and promote the well-being of all, especially those who have been traditionally marginalized.”

Finally, Toby Sanger, Canadians for Tax Fairness, pointed out that the federal government has access from various sources to the money required to fund climate action.  “Making the transition to a low carbon economy will require billions in new investments. We can pay for this by making our tax system fairer. Climate justice should go hand in hand with tax justice.”

This is the first federal budget of 2020, the beginning of the last decade to prevent runaway climate catastrophe, according to world scientists.  

Budget 2020 will reveal whether the Government of Canada truly understands the potentially destructive future we face – if strategic, green, well-funded steps are not taken immediately.

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CONTACT

Kathleen O’Hara, 613-400-8444 or ​moc.oohay@arahoneelhtak

Barbara Hayes, ac.ecnefedlatnemnorivne@seyahb

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