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LETTER: 2020’s challenges require 2020 vision

Energy efficiency grants available for eligible Islanders with household incomes under $50,000.
Efficiency Canada estimates that for every $1 million invested in energy efficiency programs, 16 to 30 jobs are created. — 123RF Stock Photo

We know there is great potential in Newfoundland and Labrador to build a resilient economy that creates stability for workers and government. The Newfoundland and Labrador government needs to commit now to meeting this challenge, starting with the $320 million in federal government funding received by the province, and moving forward in the months and years ahead. The task force struck to make recommendations for allocating the federal funding had to establish its criteria on or before Nov. 16.

Four years ago, the Green Economy Network developed a plan to create one million climate jobs in Canada, and estimated that Newfoundland and Labrador could create 27,449 person years of employment over five years by investing wisely in energy efficiency, renewable energy and public transit.

The need to diversify the Newfoundland and Labrador economy is not a new challenge.

We know that wise investments now will pay off. In their submission to the federal government on a post-COVID-19 budget, Efficiency Canada estimates that for every $1 million invested in energy efficiency programs, 16 to 30 jobs are created. This means that if the Newfoundland and Labrador government invested all of the $320 million of federal assistance on efficiency programming, it could create between 5,120 and 9,600 jobs and energy savings for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

Any plans for investment should be held against the yardstick of opportunities for long-term, sustainable jobs and clean energy opportunities.

We submit that the leaders and provincial bodies established to set priorities for Newfoundland and Labrador recovery prioritize workers, increased self-sufficiency and reduced energy costs, respect indigenous rights and enhance opportunities for reconciliation, and put the province in a position to embrace clean energy opportunities.

The need to diversify the Newfoundland and Labrador economy is not a new challenge. Newfoundland and Labrador has been struggling for years now to deal with plummeting oil prices and declines in royalties to support essential government services.

The global pandemic has exacerbated the economic hardship brought on by over-reliance on the volatile oil and gas sector, but also created opportunities for investment in new opportunities. The time is now to seize these opportunities by creating and investing in a new vision for a truly clean, just and self-sufficient Newfoundland and Labrador.

Delia Warren, Iron & Earth East

Gretchen Fitzgerald, Sierra Club Canada Foundation

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