The excitement inside City Hall’s Committee Room 4 was palpable while I was waiting to speak at the press conference where the Green Jobs for All at Hydro campaign was launched. On June 7, community and
When I walked in the room, I was impressed with the huge solar panel resting against the wall and the number of banners from participating agencies. The five Green Change Agents from Jane and Finch who came with me added their own displays and signs. The campaign launch was attended by a diversity of community groups, unions, elected officials, and environmental organizations. Groups in attendance included the Toronto & York Region Labour Council, the Council of Agencies Serving South Asians, the Chinese Canadian National Council -
Through this campaign, the Good Jobs for All Coalition is calling on Toronto Hydro to take advantage of the subsidies available in the Green Energy Act and plan for an aggressive expansion of Toronto Hydro’s role in renewable energy generation in partnership with other public institutions. The strategy calls for Toronto Hydro to install solar panels on schools, hospitals and other public buildings across the City. Under the Ontario Green Energy and Green Economy Act 2009, renewable energy companies, utilities and homeowners can receive provincial subsidies – through the feed-in tariff program – provided they meet domestic content rules, which require 40 to 60% of the goods and services used originate from
As I explained in my speech, not only will this strategy generate profits for the public utility company, but by engaging community organizations and unions as partners at the table, it will also generate dividends for the local communities by engaging residents and youth in the revitalization and economic development of their own community. This strategy has the potential to see thousands of youth trained and new job opportunities for residents and other equity seeking groups created.
The Good Jobs for All Coalition is also asking Toronto Hydro to make local procurement of green products a priority in all activities. With its strong buying power, Toronto Hydro would then be able to attract green manufacturers to
“Creating good green jobs is the lynchpin that will turn our community around,” says Nigel Barriffe. Currently a teacher with the Toronto District School Board in Rexdale, Nigel is Co-Chair of the Green Economy Committee of the Good Jobs for All Coalition. This strategy could be a game changer for priority neighbourhoods like Rexdale and Jane and Finch that continue to struggle with issues of poverty and underemployment. On the other side of the coin is the emerging trend and related opportunities in the green economy.
One young man, Chris Williamson, a pre-apprentice electrician, who recently graduated from the Hammer Heads program also shared his story. Chris - who is 18 - spoke about how his placement as a pre-apprentice electrician gave him the opportunity to start saving up money so he can hopefully sponsor his mother – who currently lives in
Other speakers at the press conference included: John Camilleri, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 1, which represents Toronto Hydro workers; and Carolyn Egan, president of the Steelworker Toronto Area Council.
The Green Jobs for All at Hydro campaign can be formally endorsed at www.goodjobsforall.ca.About Rosemarie Powell