A new report reveals that no province gets an “A” grade on their overall ability to attract and support skilled workers in the clean economy.

With over 300,000 jobs potentially created from climate action and investments in clean growth, Canada’s economic future seems bright. However, to realize this future, regions will need to attract workers to fill, and support them in, these new clean jobs. If regions are unable to fill these jobs, not only will the communities within these regions not benefit from these clean growth opportunities, but projects will be delayed, incur cost overruns, be left incomplete, or be outright cancelled, and Canada’s climate targets will likely go unmet.

With stakes this high, the report released by the PLACE Centre, an initiative of the Smart Prosperity Institute, assesses how ready each province is to attract and support workers and immigrants in clean job opportunities. The report looks at four factors that make a region attractive:

  1. Career Prospects – the more job opportunities that exist and the higher the wages are for roles, the more attractive the region is.

  2. Affordable Housing – the more affordable obtaining a home was (either buying or renting), the more attractive the region is.

  3. Whether Friends and Family are Present – the more likely that friends, family, and social networks exist in the region, the more attractive it is.

  4. Population Density – the greater the population density, and the subsequent economic, cultural, and social opportunities that exist, the more attractive the region is.

So, how ready are the provinces for this growth? 

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Unfortunately, no province gets an “A” grade on their overall ability to attract and support skilled workers in the clean economy. 

British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec lead the pack with “B” grades but are held back by unaffordable housing markets. Each of the Prairie provinces receives a “C” grade due to lower career prospects and smaller immigration populations. All of the Atlantic Canadian provinces also receive C grades, save Nova Scotia, whose low housing affordability and limited career prospects give it a ‘D.’ While some provinces do better than others, it seems as though no region is truly ready to attract and support the workers they’ll need to fill the jobs they are likely to see over the next seven years as Canada works to meet its climate targets. 

These workers will be needed. For instance, the manufacturing sector could create 164,000 jobs, but the sector already faces a shortage of 87,000 workers. The country’s aging workforce (and the waves of retirements to come) will only make this a greater challenge. In the agriculture sector, as an example, there are three workers set to retire for every one worker entering the industry. Without having enough workers, there may not be enough people to build the projects Canada needs to reduce emissions and grow its clean economy. 

“Clean growth in Canada won’t happen automatically. Every province needs to do better when it comes to upskilling existing workers, and attracting more skilled workers, or we risk not being able to build projects,” warns John McNally, report author and Program Director of Growth at the PLACE Centre. 

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Regions will need to take a variety of actions to address each of these factors. But three of the report’s seven recommendations to help regions attract and support workers should be urgently prioritized: 

  1. Create incentives and lower regulatory barriers to enable the building of more housing, with the goal of improving affordability for renting and home ownership.

  2. Create more regional immigration programs and structure Provincial Nominee Programs to lower associated costs and broaden the focus to attract immigrants with skilled trades experiences. 

  3. Ensure all training programs in sectors reducing their greenhouse gas emissions teach the foundational ‘green literacy’ skills needed for workers to advance clean economy projects. 

Featured image credit: Getty Images

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