Report reveals regions with highest share of fossil fuel workers by province; “just transition” plan needed

January 25, 2018

OTTAWA—Communities across Canada need a national strategy to ensure the move to a zero-carbon economy leaves no one behind, according to a new report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA). For the first time, the report uses census data to identify the regions in each province with the greatest reliance on fossil fuel jobs. 

The new analysis comes after the federal government announced last fall it will launch a task force in 2018 on a “just transition” policy framework for certain sectors. In general, the broad goal of a just transition is to ensure an equitable, productive outcome for all workers in the decarbonized future.

“The transition to a clean economy will create significant opportunities for Canada, but the process may also present hardship for certain workers and their communities,” says study author and CCPA researcher Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood. “The fact is, Canada’s social safety net is not yet robust enough to support a just transition for those impacted. That needs to change.”

Among the study’s findings:

  • Fossil fuel dependence is overwhelmingly concentrated in Alberta, with a few hot spots in Saskatchewan and British Columbia;

  • However, there are communities from coast to coast where the share of fossil fuel jobs is relatively high. Bay Roberts, N.L.; Cape Breton, N.S.; Saint John, N.B.; Sarnia, Ont.; Estevan, Sask; Wood Buffalo, Alta.; and Fort St. John, B.C., have the greatest share of fossil fuel workers in their respective provinces;

  • In addition to a national just transition strategy and targeted policy measures for fossil fuel-dependent communities, Canada’s social security programs should be enhanced to better support workers in any industry facing job loss and retraining costs;

  • Governments must also invest in workforce development programs to ensure there are enough skilled workers to fill new jobs created by the zero-carbon economy.

“The threat of job losses is not just a problem in the oil patch. This research makes it clear there are communities across the country that rely on fossil fuel jobs for their prosperity,” adds Mertins-Kirkwood. “There’s no doubt we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but in doing so governments must prioritize the stability of communities in vulnerable regions and the well-being of workers across the country.”


Making Decarbonization Work for Workers: Policies for a just transition to a zero-carbon economy is available for download on the CCPA website. The report is a co-publication by the CCPA and the Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces to Respond to Climate Change research program, based at York University and funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

For more information, please contact Alyssa O’Dell, CCPA Media and Public Relations Officer, at 613-563-1341 x307, cell 343-998-7575 or [email protected]