Ottawa's "Just Transition" has met some Indigenous blowback over its inferred impacts on oil and gas. The Indigenous Resource Network (IRN) referred those concerns from energy workers to Ottawa.
"We understand the anxieties of some of our workers in the oil and gas sector," said IRN executive director John Desjarlais in a press release. "Throughout the legislative process, IRN will engage with decision-makers and our supporters to ensure our concerns are heard, and proper amendments are considered."
On June 15, Parliament tabled Bill C-50, the Sustainable Jobs Act, to provide "new opportunities" for energy workers in critical minerals, biofuels and hydrogen development. With this legislation, Canada looks to turn the page on conventional oil and natural gas.
Its framework includes a 10-point plan to create 'sustainable jobs' in every region in Canada and publish action plans every five years, starting in 2025.
Speaking to reporters, Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said Canada's economic future depends on the government making "smart choices" and positioning itself as a world leader in sustainable jobs.
However, according to Statistics Canada, the oil and gas sector provides meaningful work contracts, employment and revenue for Indigenous people. They reported Indigenous energy workers make almost three times more than the average non-energy worker of Indigenous origin ($140,400 to $51,120).
The IRN did not mince their words relaying concerns about what blowback might surface from transitioning oil and gas workers out of their jobs without a plan for them to earn similar wages.
According to a leaked federal memo, a 'Just Transition' could affect upwards of 187,000 workers in Alberta from the agriculture, energy, manufacturing and transportation sectors.
However, the natural resource ministry claimed the memo did not constitute policy and was taken "out of context."
While Bill C-50 is light on preliminary details, the IRN said it would monitor for updates from the federal government and offer considerations and amendments serving the best interests of Indigenous workers and businesses.
"We look forward to working with the federal government to ensure Indigenous workers have more, not less, opportunities in the sector while providing the world with responsibly produced energy," said Desjarlais.
However, Wilkinson contends global investors are looking forward to investments consistent with a "low carbon future."
"Successful businesses must learn to adapt to changes in the business environment. It's what their shareholders expect and what their employees depend upon," he said.
Recent estimates suggest a production cap on oil and gas would lead to $45 billion in revenue losses for the industry in 2030 alone, leading to a significant drop in government resource royalty and tax revenue.
Absent phasing out oil and gas, these emissions targets could decrease Canada's GDP by $196 billion in 2050.