Various business sectors have been calling upon the government for a bailout on account of the COVID-19 crisis. Bailouts of the energy sector as well as airlines and banks are all on the table. As such, it is crucial for the government to remember that its focus must be on protecting Canadians, both in respect of their emergency needs and their future stake in the eventual recovery. Any public funds utilised to bail out a sector or a private corporation must be justified and conditioned on that basis.
It has been reported that the oil and gas sector is negotiating a multi-billion-dollar bailout that will provide the sector greater access to credit, and significant funding to create jobs for laid-off workers. However, if the oil and gas sector is to benefit from a bailout, then the object of that bailout should be the workers and not the corporations. Of equal importance, the bailout should not promote further investment in the fossil fuel industry. Rather, as a condition of its economic relief, the sector should be required to employ laid-off workers in the cleanup of abandoned oil and gas wells and other rehabilitative work that has been underfunded to date, and that is yet to be undertaken within the sector, even though the workers are already qualified.
Any bailout to non-green industries such as oil and gas and the airline industry should also be conditioned upon these industries agreeing to meet targets consistent with the goal of cutting climate-changing emissions by 60% from 2005 levels by 2030, reaching net-zero by 2050, and should be conditioned on publishing a detailed implementation plan in the next few months.