Robyn Benson, PSAC

Climate change is a union issue

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Global warming is once again on the agenda as world leaders gather for the Paris climate change summit.

The time for debating whether or not the climate is changing is long past. It’s too much like arguing whether the earth is flat or round. Instead, some hard decisions need to be made about how to stop it, because the news is not good.

Under the previous government, Canada rated a dismal 58th out of 61 industrialized countries in terms of climate change policy. Our new government must move in a more positive direction. After all, there is really nowhere else to go but up.

Workers and unions can play a role in pushing the new Liberal government. Already the Canadian Labour Congress is pressing ahead with its One Million Climate Jobs campaign. And this Sunday, on the eve of the Paris summit, PSAC and other union members will be turning out in support, marching in Ottawa for a 100% clean energy economy by 2050.

Based on a survey of our members, our own Union has a responsibility to play a strong role in the world-wide efforts to combat climate change, not only for ourselves and our fellow citizens, but for future generations.

PSAC has produced educational tools for our members and the wider public on the global warming crisis and the importance of acting now. We also recognize the specific impacts of global warming on First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples—with whom the Trudeau government is seeking a new partnership after years of neglect.

Prime Minister Trudeau may have identified the environment as a key priority, but his government can’t make up lost ground without the public service. The damaging cutbacks must be reversed, but we need to go much further than that. Canada needs stronger legislation and regulation, more investment in research and policy development, greater consultation with communities and environmental advocates, and public service programs and staff to enforce compliance.

PSAC members who work on the front-line to preserve our environment have been fighting an uphill battle for too long. They’ve been victims of budget cuts and job loss, and their workload has grown to impossible levels. The regulatory tools they have to enforce environmental standards have been blunted. This has to change.

The Paris conference is a good beginning. But for real progress to be achieved here at home, our members need to be a part of it.

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This page contains a single entry by Robyn Benson, PSAC published on November 26, 2015 8:00 AM.

Time to rebuild was the previous entry in this blog.

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