Canada is losing out on about 66,000 jobs because the Harper government is not keeping pace with renewable energy investments made by the Obama administration, estimates a new report to be released today at a green economy conference in Washington.
The report, Falling Behind: Canada’s Lost Clean Energy Jobs, produced by Environmental Defence Canada and the United Steelworkers, says Canada needs to invest $11.5 billion in clean energy initiatives to match the U.S. on a per person basis.
“At every opportunity, the Canadian government emphasizes that it is harmonizing its energy and climate policies with the United States,” the report said. “Yet when it comes to investing in clean energy jobs, Canada does not even come close to matching U.S. efforts.”
The estimated job losses are based on Canadian and Ontario labour statistics showing each million dollars invested in renewable energy generates 14.1 to 16.4 direct and indirect jobs.
Gillian McEachern, the program manager for climate and energy at Environmental Defence, noted not only is Canada falling behind, it also stalled a couple of popular federal initiatives promoting renewable power and a home energy retrofit incentive program. McEachern said the home retrofit program also helped stimulate the economy through homeowners who were hiring contractors and auditors to proceed with their renovations.
“Rather than continuing that (home retrofit) program at a relatively low cost, we ended up cancelling it,” said McEachern, who authored the report along with Environmental Defence policy director Matt Price and Charles Campbell, a researcher with the United Steelworkers. “On the other hand, within the (Canadian) stimulus package, more than half of the money that has been classified as clean energy spending is actually being invested in (carbon capture and storage technologies for) oil companies.”
The report recommends Canada match or surpass U.S. investments on a per-capita basis, and introduce new incentives and training programs for clean energy workers and their industry. It also recommends regulations to put a price on greenhouse-gas pollution so the polluting companies pay for investments in clean energy.