Flags in front of the Canadian parliament building

Canada’s Sustainable Jobs Act Marks Progress, But Must Be Strengthened

June 15, 2023

The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) welcomes the draft Canadian Sustainable Jobs Act, announced today, as an important step forward in the just transition in this country. 

This legislation sets out to advance the creation of sustainable jobs while also leaving some clear gaps that must be addressed through amendments in order to better support workers and communities through the energy transition. 

The act ensures that key governance bodies—the Sustainable Jobs Secretariat and Partnership Council—are enshrined in legislation to support coordination across government. The Partnership Council must have broad representation from labour and unorganized workers, Indigenous Peoples, and affected communities.  

It also includes strong principles, such as social dialogue and good-paying and high-quality jobs, in line with the International Labour Organization’s guidelines for a just transition and as advocated for by Canadian labour leaders. These principles should be moved to the body of the bill. 

“To build a bridge to a society beyond oil and gas, we must act quickly; the Sustainable Jobs Act provides key pieces of that scaffolding,” says Laura Cameron, Policy Advisor, IISD. “This legislation is essential but must now be further strengthened by bringing important elements from the preamble—such as the principles of inclusion, Indigenous rights, and Canada’s climate commitments—into the body of the bill to ensure accountability and certainty.” 

In order to fully support workers and communities, gaps in the legislation must be addressed through amendments. We look forward to working with the government to ensure the legislation includes 

  • specific principles and mechanisms to support Indigenous Peoples as equal partners at all levels of planning and decision making;

  • reference to Canada’s climate commitments and the Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act in the body of the bill to ensure that worker supports and job creation will be aligned with the transition away from fossil fuels;

  • regional just transition planning mechanisms to ensure that the principles, processes, and resources guide and support regional planning, and

  • support programs for workers facing job loss or transition, such as expanded employment insurance, pension bridging, and relocation supports.