Canada’s unions applaud Supreme Court decision upholding federal carbon pricing

March 25, 2021

Canada’s unions welcome today’s Supreme Court ruling confirming the constitutionality of the federal carbon pricing backstop. The constitutionality of the federal Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act (GGPPA) had been challenged by the provinces of Ontario and Saskatchewan. The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) was an intervener in these appeals.

“Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada is an important win for Canada’s ability to combat the worst impacts of climate change,” said Hassan Yussuff, President of the CLC. “We can now take ambitious steps towards a just transition to a net-zero Canadian economy, with good jobs and thriving communities.”

Canada’s unions are pleased with the precedent this decision establishes for ambitious climate policy going forward. The ruling confirms that it is within the federal government’s jurisdiction to implement minimum nation-wide standards of GHG pricing as part of its climate action plan.

Working people and their families are already suffering the effects of climate change in the form of forest fires, floods, droughts and severe heat stress. With jobs and livelihoods at stake, workers have a personal investment in efforts to limit the worst effects of climate change. Steps to mitigate climate change must be coupled with just transition measures to generate good jobs and provide income, re-employment and retraining support for workers and communities in the transition to a green economy. Governments must invest in the creation of high quality low-carbon jobs, across all sectors of the economy, including clean energy, public transit and transportation and green buildings and retrofits. And workers must be at the table helping to shape their own future.

The GGPPA established a national framework for carbon pricing, both from industrial emitters and consumers. The federal rules set minimum standards for carbon pricing, leaving provinces the ability to set their own policies. However, if a province falls short of the national standard or does not have its own carbon-pricing system, the federal government would apply its own carbon price.

“Climate change one of the greatest challenges of our time,” said Yussuff. “We are in a climate emergency and addressing climate change requires a commitment from all levels of government in every region of the country. The GGPPA ensures that all jurisdictions contribute to putting a price on carbon and other greenhouse gases. While carbon pricing is only one piece of the puzzle, we have to use every tool we have to quickly bring down emissions and achieve net-zero by 2050.”

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