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People Centred Just Transition

Submission on the Canadian Government’s Just Transition Legislation

September 30th 2021

WE ARE WRITING TODAY IN SUPPORT OF A JUST TRANSITION IN CANADA

Right now there is a major skills gap in Manitoba – if the building codes were to change tomorrow to require net-zero buildings, workers would not have the skills to do it.

For this reason, investing in training programs is a key piece of a Just Transition.

Clarity for workers around what their career paths are within a Just Transition is critical for their engagement in additional training.  Too many workers have been burned by funding cycles ending and their sector drying up, rendering their investment in training useless.  The government must be aware of these feelings within the workforce and make every effort to show that there is longevity and potential for career advancement in order to secure worker commitment.

This work needed for a Just Transition is already underway by a number of groups.  Rather than the government starting from scratch, investing in existing projects and coalitions is recommended.  In Manitoba, SBM has been working to form a coalition of organizations to work on this issue.  Relationships matter in this work and leveraging these relationships and building new ones is fruitful at a regional level in many ways.  Other provinces have already done this work (see Ontario’s Workforce 2030 and Nova Scotia).  In order to be truly successful, having a paid staff member would go a long way as opposed to having the work being added to already full plates.  As such, government investment in such roles would be of great benefit as some groups have already spent a lot of time securing funding instead of doing the work of addressing the training gap.

Support for Efficiency Canada, CAGBC and Canada Building Trades and the work they are doing nationally would also be helpful as a means of streamlining work and ensuring that training is transferable between provinces.  However, we do believe that this does not replace the regional coalitions and it remains critical that there be provincial investment and oversight into the process as well.  SBM believes this support should go to coalitions instead of single organizations.

A Just Transition Advisory Body should not replace any of this type of work.  If the government does decide to create a Just Transition Advisory Body, members should be required to participate in a provincial coalition and naturally all provinces and territories should be represented.  If the provincial government is not represented within the coalition, a high ranking member of the bureaucracy should be part of the Advisory Body. When feedback is required, the window must be long enough to get meaningful input from these coalitions.

Too often, these coalitions do not include boots on the ground workers, often due to scheduling issues.  When doing consultations, the government should listen to Canada Building Trades or their provincial counterparts like Manitoba Building Trades or even the leadership within the unions they represent but not stop there.  It is important that the government consult directly with the workers to not only hear their views directly, but also to help get them on board.  When a province forms a coalition, workers should be well represented. No discussion about a Just Transition can be successful without centering the worker.

Legislation will be critical for ensuring that all new builds are net zero energy and zero-carbon, that existing buildings are retrofitted, and that our infrastructure is updated to be climate resilient.  In Manitoba it is not uncommon for buildings built to existing code to be under construction in the same area as net-zero homes are being built.  Also in Manitoba we’ll see the RFPs for federally built on-reserve schools requiring significantly more sustainable features than those out for tender from the province. These examples reinforce how there are some players that need to be legislated into building better.  Much can be learned from the BC Step Code about how to lay out plans so that everyone knows and understands what is coming.

All Canadians should be made aware of developments around a Just Transition as they progress. There is, for example, a divide in Canada around the future of oil and gas in our country and the more people who understand the path forward, the less anxiety there will be overall.  Both the government and local organizations should collaborate on this messaging and its delivery.

Finally, throughout this process, a climate lens must be applied to decision making.  This means that greenhouse gas emission reductions and carbon sequestration amounts should play a role in prioritizing actions.

We believe that you are asking the right questions and hope to continue to share our expertise and insights as such we would be happy to participate in this process further via the virtual session if our input would be helpful.

Thank you for taking the time to read our submission.

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Efficiency Manitoba’s 3 Year Plan and the Public Utilities Board (PUB)

Efficiency Manitoba has submitted their 3 year plan to the Public Utilities Board (PUB) for review.  A piece of this process is an opportunity to comment on the the submitted plan.

The current natural gas reduction target is well below what is required for Manitoba to do its part in GHG reductions.  The annual growth of natural gas customers has averaged 0.95% over the past few years.

Here is an overview of what SBM is advocating for:

1. Focus on deep energy retrofits for social housing to keep more money in the public purse
2. Develop a clear robust method to avoid double credit for natural gas reductions from the Federal Carbon Tax
3. Clarification on the application of reductions due to Codes and Standards
4. Recognize the economic benefits of deep retrofits and see Manitoba’s portfolio of government buildings as an opportunity
5. Public education to ensure that energy efficiency is top of mind for consumers
6. Consider measures to curtail further expansion of natural gas in Manitoba

Read SBM’s full submission for more detail on each point and how they relate to what is in the 3-year-plan.

On February 28th the Public Utilities Board submitted their report to government resulting in Efficiency Manitoba’s Updated Plan.

Read the analysis of SBM’s submission compared to the PUB’s final report.

Committee hearings on Bill 16 – The Climate and Green Plan Implementation Act

 

Standing Committee on Legislative Affairs
Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Chairperson, Committee Members, Media and Fellow Presenters,

My name is Dan McInnis and I am the Chair of the Advocacy Committee of Sustainable Building Manitoba Inc.  I am pleased to present to the Standing Committee this evening and communicate our organizations support for the proposed Climate and Green Plan Implementation Act.

First a little background on Sustainable Building Manitoba Inc……

Sustainable Building Manitoba is a not-for-profit member-based organization with a Vision of “A sustainable built environment in Manitoba”.  Our reach of over 1,200 people and numerous corporate supporters all work towards our Mission “To be a leader, showcase local innovation, and inspire our stakeholders to create life-enhancing environments”.  Now in our thirteenth year, we actively carry out this mission by offering networking and education opportunities, by promoting collaboration in the local industry and advocating for sustainable building in Manitoba. We are the most recognized sustainable building knowledge hub for governments, media and industry.

As mentioned, Sustainable Building Manitoba Inc. supports the proposed Climate and Green Plan Implementation Act.  As you probably already know, buildings make up 17% of Manitoba’s emission profile.

There are two sections of the Act we would like to comment on.  

The first is the establishment of the Carbon Savings Account for Manitoba.  

The Carbon Savings Account will keep a running balance of the greenhouse gas emission reductions during a 5-year period and provide a comparison to the preset emission reduction goals. Sustainable Building Manitoba sees this as an important step in creating a longer term, more realistic approach to climate change planning and programs.  As has been demonstrated in the past, governments have typically established shorter-term unrealistic goals, usually tied to election cycles, and while it creates a flurry of activity during that government’s mandate, the activity typically diminishes in the next mandate term. To our knowledge, Manitoba will be the first subnational government in the world to create a Carbon Savings Account and should be congratulated for doing so.  

The second section we would like to comment on is the creation of the Low Carbon Government Office and in particular, the focus on improved building design, construction and management.  

It has been demonstrated time and time again, that building design, construction and operation provide the “low hanging fruit” for cost effective carbon emission reductions.  Most macro-economic modelling has shown that greenhouse gas focused building improvements can actually be a negative cost per tonne of emission reductions! Along with the other benefits of improved occupant health and productivity in sustainable buildings, the local economic benefits are enormous. The Manitoba government has a huge portfolio of buildings and can set the example and demonstrate leadership for other building owners across the Province.

Sustainable Building Manitoba members and supporters are comprised of design, construction and building operation professionals that are able to address the challenges of climate change.  Not only can these individuals and organizations effect lower emissions, they can provide more robust and resilient buildings that will withstand the catastrophic impacts of our changing climate.  Our organization is always willing to collaborate as required.

In summary, the case for sustainable building has never been stronger – not only are the environmental benefits well defined, the additional benefits of keeping investment capital in Manitoba and stimulating new innovation in clean energy, business and jobs will truly lead to a better Manitoba for all.  

Thank you for the opportunity to make this presentation this evening.

J. Dan McInnis, P.Eng.
Chair, Advocacy Committee
Sustainable Building Manitoba Inc.
mcinnis.dan@gmail.com

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