NUPGE calls on new environment minister to prioritize a just transition

“The security and prosperity of Canada, and a sustainable future for generations to come, depend on it.” — Larry Brown, NUPGE President

Ottawa (26 Nov. 2019) — The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) has written to Canada’s newly appointed Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Jonathan Wilkinson, urging him to support the transition to a green economy, ensuring that it is fair and just for all people, including workers.

Climate change is here

In the letter, Larry Brown, NUPGE President, said "our members know first-hand the effects of climate change as workers on the front lines." They are the workers on the front lines keeping communities safe and providing care and services to those affected.

"Our members are also worried about climate change — as members of communities across Canada and as citizens mindful of ensuring they leave behind a sustainable environment for future generations," he said.

Workers deserve a just transition

"We stand in solidarity, too, with other workers affected by the climate crisis, including those in the resource sectors," Brown noted.

Along with our allies, NUPGE has long been part of the call for a just transition. Brown wrote that "it is an approach to decarbonization that does not cast aside the workers in affected industries, but instead involves them and their labour representatives in decision-making and policy-making processes to ensure the transition is fair and equitable for workers and their communities."

It must not recreate inequities

"A just transition strategy must also work to address existing inequities in order to avoid repeating or re-entrenching them," wrote Brown. The effects of climate change and environmental degradation are uneven, with the poor, women, migrants, and racialized and Indigenous communities bearing the brunt. Climate action, including a just transition, must include marginalized workers and communities and promote more equitable outcomes." It must include Indigenous communities and leaders at the table, and respect Indigenous rights and sovereignty.

Just transition must be a priority of this government

He insisted that "the Canadian government will need to urgently invest resources in retraining, social security and income supports, workforce development, and community supports. This will require support from robust and well-funded public and social services."

“Given the clear mandate from Canadians and dire warnings from scientists, it is imperative that your government undertake bold and transformational action on climate change,” wrote Brown. “The security and prosperity of Canada, and a sustainable future for the generations to come, depend on it.”

Read the full letter.


The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE