STATEMENT: “Stop playing politics with our jobs and with our collective future.”

AFL president calls on UCP to rescind renewables moratorium

EDMONTON – Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan issued the following statement on the UCP’s moratorium on renewables development:

“The Alberta Federation of Labour, Alberta’s largest worker advocacy group, strongly and unequivocally opposes the UCP government’s moratorium on renewable energy development. There are currently 22 major renewable energy projects that were slated to start construction in Alberta in the coming months (see attached list), with thirteen more in the pipeline. These projects would have created thousands of jobs for Alberta workers and generated literally billions of dollars of economic activity in the province.

“How can members of the UCP government say they’re concerned about working Albertans when they put so many jobs in jeopardy? How can they claim to be ‘business friendly’ when their moratorium is already isolating Alberta and driving investment away from our province? The need to attract, rather than repel, investment and promote diversification in the Alberta economy has never been greater.

“Just last month, the Calgary-based Canadian Energy Regulator released a report suggesting that demand for Alberta oil and gas is likely to collapse in coming years as the world gets more serious about addressing climate change. Shouldn’t we be embracing industries that can potentially keep Albertans working as our economy changes?

“Can we not have both renewable energy and oil and gas, for as long as the latter lasts? Or are we supposed to believe that sticking our heads in the sand is good economic policy?

“Other jurisdictions around the world – most notably our biggest trading partner, the United States – see the future and are preparing for it. American legislation like the Inflation Reduction Act, has led to an unprecedented boom in energy and manufacturing investment and job growth south of the border.

“This is the kind of government-led industrial policy that we in the Alberta labour movement have been advocating for since last year when we released our suggestions for the Alberta economy in a report entitled, ‘Skate to Where the Puck is Going‘. Our modelling suggests that if the Alberta government embraces, rather than rejects, the evolution of the Alberta economy towards a lower-carbon future, we could create at least 200,000 more jobs in the province.

“That future is already here. AFL’s biggest construction affiliate, the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 955, currently has hundreds of members working on the construction of wind farms, with hundreds of more jobs lined up for future projects. Those jobs – along with thousands of others – are now in jeopardy.

“For the sake of these jobs, and for the sake of our province’s economic future, we call on the Alberta government to rescind its ill-advised moratorium. In the meantime, we join another of our construction affiliates, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 424, in calling on the government to engage in consultations with all interested Albertans, including Alberta workers and the unions that represent them.

“We understand that a significant portion of the UCP’s base – including influential individuals like the Premier’s own top advisor, Rob Anderson – have a visceral dislike for renewables and scoff at the need for action on climate change. But we can’t afford to close our eyes to what’s happening in the rest of the world. We need the UCP to stop playing politics with our jobs and with our collective future.”

John Ashton
Director of Communications, AFL