Unions and Environmentalists urge continued support for green energy and green jobs

For Immediate Release: October 17, 2012

TORONTO, ON - Blue Green Canada is urging the Ontario and federal governments to step up the defence of Ontario’s Green Energy Act if reports prove accurate that a World Trade Organization panel is poised to rule against the legislation’s incentives for domestic manufacturing.

Blue Green, an alliance of trade unions, environmental organizations and civil society groups, was an early advocate for the “domestic content” requirements built into Ontario’s landmark renewable energy policy. By requiring that companies who wish to supply clean energy to Ontario’s grid do so using a minimum percentage of in-province labour and equipment manufactured in the province, the Act has spurred a green jobs boom in Ontario. It is also helping to wean the province off of coal, cutting greenhouse gas emissions and improving local air quality.

The Globe and Mail has reported that the panel’s confidential preliminary report found in favour of a complaint lodged by Japan that Ontario’s local content regulations violate the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs. The final decision is expected in November.

“Canada and Ontario should appeal this decision and defend our right to support manufacturing jobs,” said Ken Neumann, National Director for Canada of the United Steelworkers. “It would be a travesty to let an unelected body wipe out an initiative to promote the environment and the economy at the same time.”

Dr. Rick Smith, executive director of Environmental Defence, said governments should be more active in reducing greenhouse emissions and creating good jobs, not less. “The provincial and federal governments need to stand up to these threats and take strong action.”

“Thanks to the Green Energy Act, Ontario is a national and global leader in clean-energy manufacturing,” said Merran Smith, director of Clean Energy Canada at Tides Canada, which joined Blue Green Canada earlier this year. “This is the not just Ontario’s future economy, but Canada’s, and we must defend our gains with every tool we have available.”

Founded in 2008, Blue Green Canada brings workers and environmentalists together to show how jobs and sustainability go hand-in-hand. The alliance, originally formed between the United Steelworkers and Environmental Defence, now includes the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union, the Pembina Institute, the Columbia Institute and Tides Canada.

Earlier this year, Blue Green joined with other organizations and submitted an amicus brief to the WTO in support of the Green Energy Act.


For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Stephanie Kohls, Environmental Defence, 416-323-9521 ext. 232; 647-280-9521 (cell) skohls@environmentaldefence.ca

Bob Gallagher, United Steelworkers, 416-544-5966 or 416-544-5991 bgallagher@usw.ca

Merran Smith, Clean Energy Canada at Tides Canada, 604-947-2200 merran.smith@tidescanada.org