This brief investigates the actual state of employment in Canada’s fossil fuel industry. It explains why the clean economy transition is manageable for workers in fossil fuel industries and should start now. And it provides ten principles that we should be following to make this transition fair and effective.

This brief summarizes the findings of Employment Transitions and the Phase-Out of Fossil Fuels, a report authored by economist Jim Stanford at the Centre for Future Work.

Click here for more information and to view this report.

Canada can have a fair transition for workers and communities

We need to act on climate change, and we also need to be fair to workers and communities in fossil fuel industries. By starting a planned 20-year phase-out of fossil fuels now, we can ensure that workers and communities are given a steady path to a fossil free economy. Over this timeline, we’d need to find 4,000 new jobs for fossil fuel workers a year – that’s an amount that the Canadian economy currently creates every 5 days!

Canada’s economy has been strong even while fossil fuel jobs declined

In the 5 years before the COVID-19 pandemic, fossil fuel industries were already losing jobs, yet the rest of Canada’s economy had low unemployment. In fact, between 2014 and 2019, for every job that disappeared from fossil fuel industries, 42 were created in other fields.

Only 18 communities are significantly dependent on fossil fuel jobs

Providing communities with targeted transition support is very manageable. Of the 152 communities across Canada, only 18 are even somewhat dependent on fossil fuel jobs (more than 5% of employment), and only 2 rely on it for more than 20% of their jobs. Through tailored programs, we can support these communities to diversify their economies.

56% of fossil fuel workers are in cities

Despite the widespread belief that fossil fuel jobs are located in rural and remote areas of Canada, the majority of people working in the fossil fuel industry are actually in cities of 100,000 people or more.

Fossil fuel jobs have been on the decline for years

Many trends are threatening fossil fuel jobs that have nothing to do with climate policies. These include industry-led automation, decreasing job security, falling wages (partly from deunionization), increasing health and safety risks, and long commutes. Now is the time to support these workers with a compassionate transition plan.

 © 2018 NBEN / RENB