To us, a future that works is a future where Canada meets its climate goals and Canadian workers have opportunities for good, unionized jobs that are sustainable. 

As workers, governments, unions, businesses, and communities come together to address the challenges of climate change, the world is changing, and work is changing too. 

Change can mean opportunities for workers: electrifying our economy, producing the goods needed for a net-zero economy, ensuring our infrastructure can withstand extreme weather, making our buildings more energy-efficient, implementing nature-based solutions, and manufacturing zero-emissions vehicles, just to name a few. 

The way to harness these opportunities for working people is to get workers to the table and implement policies to give workers the support and opportunities they need to lead us forward. Our focus is on ensuring that good jobs take centre stage in a sustainable future—a future in which Canada fulfills its climate objectives and its workers have opportunities for good, safe work that has the benefit of a union card. 

We are working to ensure sustainable jobs are defined as good jobs that are part of a net-zero pathway. That means protecting and, importantly, decarbonizing good jobs in manufacturing, steelmaking, forestry, or mining. 

It means creating new, good, net-zero jobs in non-emitting electricity generation and manufacturing so we can produce the goods and products needed in a net-zero global economy like carbon fibers, batteries, heat pumps, or buildings. 

It also means recognizing economies like the care economy, education and public services as being good, low-carbon jobs. 

What it doesn’t mean is precarious low-carbon work, unsafe low-carbon work, or low-carbon work without essential labour rights. 

Canada’s closest trading partner, the United States, has made it crystal clear: they want the industries and jobs that will lead a global net zero economy and they’re going to do it with good union jobs. 

Canada can’t stand still while our partners and competitors move faster than ever. If we do, Canada will lose opportunities, lose investments, lose people and lose quality of life across the country. 

RBC estimates that 400,000 jobs could be created in a sustainable economy. The International Energy Agency is forecasting investments of over $1.7 trillion in clean energy technology1. We must make sure these jobs are high-quality and that Canada and Canadian workers see investments coming here. 

A safer climate, sustainable jobs and the benefits of a union card are the foundations of a future that works. 

The political opportunity 

The introduction of the Sustainable Jobs Act (Bill C-50) is an important first step towards realizing our vision of a future that works. If we can get the Sustainable Jobs Act right, it can support the good, net-zero jobs of the future. 

In the labour movement, we adhere to the principles of, “nothing about us without us.” It’s a core value that embodies the idea that workers must have a say in their work. It’s why we defend our right to collectively bargain, why we demand strong joint health and safety committees, and why we are fighting for a sustainable future. Workers are already feeling the impacts of climate change. 

The Sustainable Jobs Act, rooted in the federal government’s promise of Just Transition legislation, creates a way for workers to engage at the national level about the future of work as Canada takes action to address climate change. If we can ensure workers get a meaningful voice, we can make it a future that does work.  

By securing a strong voice on Canada’s Sustainable Jobs Partnership Council, workers can influence Canada’s 5-year Sustainable Jobs Plan. We can push for these plans to address training needs, to identify pathways to sustainable jobs, labour force adjustments, and government regulations and investments that support good, sustainable jobs. We can also influence the work of the Sustainable Jobs Secretariat to ensure the interests and concerns of workers are addressed. 

Policy and governance 

Canada’s unions partnered with the Pembina Institute to develop a blueprint for the creation of good, sustainable jobs. The first report, Governance recommendations to support Canada’s clean energy workforce and economy, outlines a governance framework aimed at supporting workers in the shift to a sustainable economy. 

This is a roadmap that government, the Sustainable Jobs Partnership Council, and the Sustainable Jobs Secretariat can use to shape policies that not only support workers, but that workers support. Negotiation and dialogue with workers are necessary to make policies like this a reality. 

The report outlines several crucial elements necessary for advancing a sustainable jobs plan, including:   

What are Canada’s unions advocating for? 

As the federal government progresses with the Sustainable Jobs Act, we are calling upon them to:   

Learn more

Read our primer on the Sustainable Jobs Act and opportunities for Canada’s workers.

Watch CLC President Bea Bruske’s presentation to the Standing Committee on Natural Resources.

Join our campaign to shape a worker-powered plan that creates and protects sustainable jobs.