Toronto –  Statistics Canada’s disturbing employment figures  released late last week offer further proof that Ontario must create quality ‘green’ jobs through a new Green Energy Act.  The Green Energy Act Alliance, a network of environmental, labour, agricultural and industry groups, is calling on the McGuinty government to make Ontario a leader in green energy while jumpstarting its economy.
“The government’s commitment to a Green Energy Act supported by a ‘Made in Ontario’ procurement policy would build on the wealth of Ontario workers’ experience, create good jobs here where they are needed, help rebuild our economy, and support a sustainable lifestyle,”  said Andy King, National Health, Safety and Environment Coordinator for the United Steelworkers Union. “It is important that we build our new energy economy locally so we don’t export our pollution overseas.”
According to Statistics Canada, both the construction and manufacturing sectors reported significant job losses.  Over the course of 2008, almost 49,000 manufacturing jobs were lost in Ontario.  In December alone, the construction sector lost 44,000 jobs, although it did see moderate growth in 2008.
“A world class Green Energy Act in Ontario would create jobs in the manufacturing, construction and utilities sectors,” said Deb Doncaster, Executive Director of the Community Power Fund. “This could be the birth of a new industry in Ontario and Canada, with potential exports of goods, services and expertise to countries around the world as economies shift towards sustainable practices.”
The announcement last week of layoffs of 20% of the workforce at DMI Industries in Stevensville, a steel manufacturer that specializes in wind turbines, highlights the need for support for the emerging green energy sector.  The Toronto Star reported that the layoffs were due to the unstable investment climate for wind energy projects, a situation that would be overcome by a strong new Ontario Green Energy Act that would provide a stable environment for local and international investments. Similar legislation has rapidly created hundreds of thousands of new renewable energy jobs in countries such as Germany and Spain.
“The solution to the economic and environmental crises that we face is one and the same,” said Dr. Rick Smith, Executive Director of Environmental Defence. “We need the Ontario government to invest in green jobs that contribute to economic recovery and protect the environment.”
About the Green Energy Act Alliance (www.greenenergyact.ca): The Alliance’s vision is to make Ontario a global leader in green energy development through the use of renewable energy, distributed energy and conservation, creating thousands of jobs, economic prosperity, energy security, while ensuring climate protection. Founding groups include: the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association, Community Power Fund, the David Suzuki Foundation, Environmental Defence, the First Nations Energy Alliance, the Ivey Foundation, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture and the Pembina Institute.
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For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact:
Jennifer Foulds, Environmental Defence, (416) 323-9521 ext.232; (647) 280-9521 (cell)
Deb Doncaster, Community Power Fund, (416) 824-4866 (cell)