Federal government should support workers, not oil and gas companies

Today, the Toronto Environmental Alliance joined over 80 health, environmental, faith and labour groups in urging Prime Minister Trudeau to ensure that governmental support for the ailing oil and gas sector - expected next week - focuses on a just transition for workers and a bold shift to a clean, low-carbon economy.

Strong government action is needed now to limit the spread of the virus and support the thousands of Canadians affected by the coronavirus pandemic - through personal and family illness, and through economic hardship associated with lost jobs and income.

This is a critical opportunity to ensure that government resources reach those directly impacted and supports national plans to tackle climate change, rather than hindering them.

To this end, the Toronto Environmental Alliance (TEA) signed an open letter alongside many environmental organizations, faith and labour groups to urge Prime Minister Trudeau to ensure that forthcoming government support:

  • Directly supports energy workers - not companies - through increased access to employment insurance and paid emergency leave; 
  • Provides workers with training, education and employment opportunities in low-carbon sectors like energy efficiency, technology, healthcare and renewable energy; 
  • Makes government funding for orphan well cleanup conditional on the establishment of a polluter-pays program, so the public is not left with these liabilities in the future.

We are in a crisis, and with every crisis comes important choices. There is strong public support for government intervention to limit the pain caused by the current pandemic. Let’s make sure that actions taken move us towards a more equitable and sustainable country that is able to prevent - and where necessary, overcome - future health and environmental shocks.

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Michael Polanyi is the Climate Campaigner for the Toronto Environmental Alliance (TEA).