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Alberta Labour to conduct first study on impact of coal phase-out

The Sheerness coal plant is near Hanna, Alta. is shown in a handout photo. The plant will be forced to close early because of new provincial regulations.
The Sheerness coal plant is near Hanna, Alta. is shown in a handout photo. The plant will be forced to close early because of new provincial regulations. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO

The province of Alberta has committed to phasing out coal by 2030, and work will soon start on better understanding the impact the move will have on employers, workers and communities supported by the industry.

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Alberta Labour is conducting a Coal Communities Survey to collect information about those working in the coal industry as well as the business impacts of phasing out emissions from coal. Spokesperson Andrew Hanon said, while the province is seeking stakeholder input, this is the first study being conducted by Alberta Labour on the matter.

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The project will survey employers on their workforce, wages paid, extent to which corporations can absorb the at-risk workforce and their impact on the supply chain. It will look at information related to employees such as their demographics, their transferable skills and training needs as well as their willingness to relocate.

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“The Labour study is intended to clearly identify the skills of individual workers in these communities to help Alberta Labour plan programs and services to support them in transition,” Hanon said.

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“The intent is to understand the current skills of individual workers in these communities. The data collected may inform what kinds of programs and services the province may provide.”

The survey will also examine residents living in communities linked to coal, such as those who are employed and at risk due to plant closures, those who are employed and not at risk, the unemployed and the likelihood of residents moving, retraining, retiring or starting new businesses as a result of a plant closure or layoff.

The survey has a budget of $160,000 and will run from February 2 to October 13.