Labour group calls for independent agency to oversee Alberta coal phase-out

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Labour group calls for independent agency to oversee Alberta coal phase-out

A group representing more than 3,000 workers in Alberta's coal industry is calling on the province to establish an independent agency to manage the phase-out of coal-fired electricity.

The "made-in-Alberta" plan is part of a report issued Friday by the Alberta Federation of Labour and the Coal Transition Coalition, which represents coal miners and power generation workers in the province.

"The workers who have dedicated their careers to keeping the lights on need to be supported as they face the closure of coal-fired electrical plants and associated mines," said coalition chair and AFL president Gil McGowan.

"This government is a global leader and innovator in climate-change policies. They can also be leaders in creating a path forward for workers in industries affected by these policies."

The report, titled Getting It Right: A Just Transition For Alberta's Coal Workers, studied similar energy transitions around the world. It recommends the Alberta government establish what it calls the Alberta Economic Adjustment Agency to manage the transition for workers.

The report emphasizes that more job training should be provided to coal workers to enter so-called "sunrise" industries, such as renewable power generation.

"When addressing a societal issue that will impose costs, it is unfair to download those costs on a single segment of society or individuals," the report states. "After all, these workers are not responsible for the emissions and air quality problems associated with their workplaces."

The Alberta government plans to phase out all emissions from coal-fired power plants by 2030 and replace the lost power generation with a mix of natural gas and renewable electricity.