Toward a Just and Green Recovery - Prioritizing Workers and Communities

COVID-19 has shown us that people’s health and wellbeing must be prioritized. It has highlighted the need for strong social infrastructure and a resilient, sustainable economy that supports a livable future in the midst of ongoing and coming crises. To achieve this livable future, a low-carbon economy that ensures worker’s rights and the good of communities is a must.  

Art by Corinna Keeling - see justrecoveryforall.ca

Now is our chance, with this recovery budget, to fulfill the anti-austerity message in the Throne Speech, summoning the courage and the political will to map out a better future. In Toronto350’s budget submission, we asked that the federal government create the scale and scope of investment needed to build back better and realize a just, green and healthy future for all. 

Here is a version of our budget submission part 1 of 7, with some simple calls to action that you can take added in.


1) Prioritizing Workers and Communities through a Just Transition, Workers’ Rights and the Shift to a Care Economy

Climate solutions can create jobs as well as advance Canada’s transition to a clean economy. In fact, green stimulus projects create more jobs and deliver a better return on government investment, in both the short and long term.[1] If we prioritize workers and communities as we build back better, we can ensure an inclusive, resilient and green future. 

Some quick facts:  All taken from the report by  Jim Stanford, “Employment Transition and the Phase out of Fossil Fuels," (January 2021).

At the same time, COVID-19 has shown us the absolute importance of the care-giving and service sectors. Workers in these fields are deemed essential but are often among the lowest paid and have the least job protection. They disproportionately include BIPOC peoples, migrant workers and women. An inclusive, equitable recovery budget must address this fact by including investments in areas like child-care. 

The health of Canada’s economy and of the environment depends on strong investment in a burgeoning renewable and clean industry, as well as investment in other low-carbon sectors and industries such as public healthcare and education. It will require a managed transition that protects fossil fuel workers and it must include improved labour conditions across all sectors, so that low-carbon jobs have decent hours, good wages, collective representation and strong labour rights.[2]

A Green New Deal approach that interconnects actions to address systemic inequities, strengthen social infrastructure and create a resilient, green future is key to handling crises like COVID and the ongoing climate emergency. [3]

Some Recommendations below! See more in our full budget submission.

 


Just Transition

Include:

  • National Just Transition Strategy informed by experts from diverse fields. [GBC]
  • Task Force on Just Transition for Canadian Coal Workers and Communities’ full suite of recommendations. 
    • Expand the strategy to include all workers impacted by a transition to a low-carbon economy and their communities. 
    • Address current inequities and strengthen community benefit agreements. [4]  [GBC, CCPA and others]
  • 7 Rs[5]: re-employment, retraining and skills, income protections, relocation and job placement, cooperative start-up support. [GBC, Guy Dauncey, CCPA AFB]
  • expand Low Carbon Economy Fund. [Green Economy Canada (GEC)]

 

Action alert: Call on Trudeau to Pass the Just Transition Act

 

Care Economy - [CCPA AFB]

  • universal public early learning and childcare.
  • permanently increase wages for care-workers (i.e. child care, mental health services).
  • de-privatize long-term care, home care and assisted living.
  • universal Pharmacare.  

 

Action alert: Protect Health Care Workers and Migrant Rights and Pharmacare

 

Wellbeing Budget -

  • use a Wellbeing Budget, prioritizing health and wellbeing. Consider long-term impacts on climate, biodiversity, equity, affordability and private debt as well as return on social investment. [CCPA AFB, Guy Dauncey]


Action alert: learn about one take on a wellbeing budget here, here and here. Canada is considering it!


Stay tuned for part 2!

1] Kate Abnett and Matthew Green,“EU Makes the World’s Biggest “Green Recovery” Pledge - But Will it Hit the Mark?” Reuters, July 22, 2020  

2] “Alternative Federal Budget Recovery Plan,” Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, (July 21, 2020)

3] Pact for A Green New Deal town halls held in 2019 and the “M-1 Motion Green New Deal”; Christine E. Holcka, Julie L. MacArthur“Canada’s Green New Deal Forging the Political Infrastructure for a Climate Resilient FutureEnergy Research and Social Science (July 2020) 

4] Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood, Zaee Deshpande, “Who is included in a Just Transition?, Considering social equity in Canada’s shift to a zero-carbon economy,” Canadian Centre for Policy alternatives, (August 28, 2019).

5] Labour Education Centre, Just Transition, Exactly What’s in it for Workers

 

Other sources referred to in recommendations:

Green Budget Coalition, “Preliminary Recovery Budget Actions for 2020-2021” (2020).

Guy Dauncey’s “26 weeks of Federal Climate Action”, The Practical Utopian (January 5, 2020)


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