What are we teaching young people about jobs of the future?
Responding to the most recent Statistics Canada Employment figures, which show youth unemployment at nearly twice the national average, and the national average up above 7 per cent, Green Party of BC Leader Jane Sterk is demanding that all party leaders let British Columbians know what their plans are to create green jobs for the contributors and leaders of tomorrow.
"Thousands of jobs in the Green Economy would become available if the Government of British Columbia adopted policies that fostered the necessary transition to a sustainable future," Sterk said. "But all we see are governments determined to pursue mega-projects that offer corporations huge profits, while offering British Columbians fewer permanent jobs than would be created in a robust Green Economy."
The disappointing employment figures come hard on the heels of news that First Nations, who had anticipated green job opportunities in the energy sector feel they have been forgotten by the Liberal Government in its drive to develop a Liquified Natural Gas industry.
BC's Clean Energy Act stipulates that 93% of the province's electricity must come from "clean or renewable resources" such as biomass, biogas, geothermal heat, hydro, solar, ocean and wind. But last June the LNG industry was exempted, and will be permitted to use natural gas to generate the electricity needed to compress and liquify natural gas. That has led to fears that the Province has left First Nations, wanting to develop green energy projects, out of the picture.
Mark Starlund, elected Chief of the Gitanyow First Nation northeast of Kitimat, is quoted in The Tyee as saying the exemption "would kill all development on current and future green energy projects".
"This is the kind of missed linkage that we cannot afford," Sterk said. "Of course we are opposed to massive development of LNG as an export commodity in BC, but if we are going to develop it even for domestic use as a transitional fuel, every opportunity should be taken to use it as a lever for creating green jobs and promoting the transition to a Green Economy.
"Short term thinking, intended to yield quick results for an export business driven solely by the profit motive of large corporations, is denying our youth opportunities," Sterk said.
She also pointed to a recent Canada Wind Energy Association report that says the industry could meet up to 40% of the province's current electricity demand at a price of $95 per megawatt hour, and 8 per cent at a price of $87 per megawatt hour, which is close to the price BC Hydro currently pays for privately generated power.
"Other jurisdictions are seizing on these kinds of opportunities and positioning themselves to be leaders in the Green Economy," Sterk said. "Where is the leadership in BC that will move us in that direction and open up well paid, highly sought after jobs for our young people?"
Green Party of BC Media Relations