Coal Transition Coalition commends province for moving forward, calls for federal government support
Edmonton - The Government of Alberta’s release of the final recommendations of the Advisory Panel on Coal Communities accompanied with the announcement of their initial plans for supporting coal workers and communities is a step in the right direction for Alberta’s coal workers, who have long been awaiting support in response to the government’s previously announced phase-out of coal-fired electricity generation.
“Workers who have dedicated their careers to keeping the lights on should be supported fairly during Alberta’s energy transition,” said Gil McGowan, Chair of the Coal Transition Coalition. “We are glad to see both the Advisory Panel and provincial government have listened to the voices of workers in developing their transition plan.”
In March of this year, the Coal Transition Coalition publicly released their report titled Getting It Right: A Just Transition Strategy for Alberta’s Coal Workers. The report emphasized the need for a dedicated transition fund of money to be set aside, and for a dedicated person or agency be tasked with managing the transition plan. It also called for the establishment of re-training, bridging, relocation allowances, and other programs to support workers in seeking new employment or transitioning to retirement.
“Dedicated funding will ensure coal workers can continue to support themselves and their families while accessing programs and finding new work.” said McGowan. “When changing careers, retraining and relocating are often crucial to finding employment. Provisions for re-location allowances and education re-training vouchers, along with a transition team to bridge with employees and resources, will make it easier for workers to find new jobs in new industries and locations.”
However, to fully benefit from the province’s planned income top-ups the federal government will need to provide Employment Insurance (EI) flexibility to ensuring any provincial bridging top-ups won’t be clawed back.
“Offering bridging supports to workers on EI and extending the benefit period for workers close to retirement are important elements of the plan, but they depend on the federal government doing their part,” said McGowan. “Many coal-fired units in Alberta are closing due to federal government regulatory changes. They have a responsibility to these workers to help ensure a just transition.”
The Alberta Coal Transition Coalition will continue to call on the federal government to support a just transition for coal workers by implementing these necessary changes.
Alberta Federation of Labour
780-278-3640 or [email protected]