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Building Efficiency Improvements in Ontario Climate Plan Could Net 65,000 Jobs

Up to 65,000 new jobs over five years could be the net result of Ontario’s plan to boost energy efficiency and cut greenhouse gas emissions in its building sector, the Clean Economy Alliance concludes, in a report co-published with Environmental Defence and Blue Green Canada on how to build a provincial green jobs strategy.

“Ontario’s investment of C$1.91 billion to $2.73 billion in retooling buildings, as outlined in the Climate Change Action Plan, could create between 24,500 to 32,900 green jobs over the five-year funding plan,” writes Campaign Coordinator Mikayla Wujec. “A further 16,800 to 24,000 jobs could be created from the reinvestments of energy cost savings into the economy.”

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The provincial action plan, released in 2016, contains more than 80 emission reduction investments and other actions, to be funded through the province’s carbon cap-and-trade program—which, as Wujec notes, raised $472 million in its successful first auction earlier this month. “Actions aimed at reducing emissions from buildings in this plan are substantial, and that makes good sense,” she writes, since buildings are the province’s third-largest source of emissions, after transportation and industry.

Under the provincial plan, “structures built today will have to be much more energy efficient,” Wujec adds. “Buildings built after 2030 will need to be carbon neutral or better. Perhaps most important, as they are most numerous, existing buildings will need to be retrofitted, to both dramatically increase their efficiency and cut down on their carbon contributions.”

All of that activity will translate into a “massive opportunity for good green jobs,” she says. “If it sounds like a lot of work, it’s because it is. To successfully reduce emissions in the building sector, Ontario will need a work force trained with the unique knowledge and skills to perform these upgrades.”

While most of the jobs will necessarily be local, Wujec cautions there’s no guarantee they’ll be good jobs, or that they’ll lead to long-term career pathways for people who need them most. The report calls on the province to “conduct a high-carbon jobs census and low-carbon skills survey” and use rigorous standards, good program design, and a possible energy efficiency portfolio standard to deliver on the opportunity.