ECO Canada Contaminated Sites Report
WHO WILL DO THE CLEANUP?
Canadian Labour Requirements for Remediation and Reclamation of Contaminated Sites
2006 – 2009
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS
In the first three years of the new millennium, Canada’s environmental workforce grew at a rate 60% faster than the growth of the Canadian workforce as a whole. The environment sector is currently experiencing a significant shortage of workers, with the appropriate skills and knowledge, to meet its full economic and employment potential. The demand for qualified environmental workers continues to outstrip the supply and the future additional stress of reclamation and remediation activities for contaminated sites cleanup will create a severe labour shortage.It will take a large community of workers with specialized and unique competencies, including environmental health and safety training, to reclaim Canada’s contaminated sites for future generations. The decontamination of polluted land falls under the responsibility of many stakholders: federal government, provincial and territorial governments, municipalities, and the private sector.
INVESTMENTS IN CONTAMINATED SITES
Recent announcements and projections indicate a significant investment in contaminated sites cleanup activities in the near future and over the longer term.
• In the 2004 budget, the Government of Canada committed $3.5 billion over the next ten years through the Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan, FCSAP, for the cleanup of federal lands and an additional $500 million for the remediation of other sites where the Government of Canada shares responsibility, such as the tar ponds in Sydney, Nova Scotia.
• The federal government allocation of $300 million to the Green Municipal Fund includes $150 million for municipal cleanup and redevelopment of brownfields (contaminated sites in urban areas).
• The British Columbia 2006 budget pledged a portion of a $2 million skills and training fund for youth projects that will provide experience in environmental remediation.
• The government of Newfoundland and Labrador in their 2006 budget committed $1 million for continued cleanup of selected contaminated sites.
• The Alberta Energy Utilities Board, EUB, estimates the liability for the reclamation of current upstream oil and gas activities at between $5.9 and $8.8 billion. The Orphan Fund Program will spend $100 million, in cost sharing with the industry, over the next 5-10 years for industries that cannot cover the costs of their own cleanup projects.
• The private sector has, either voluntarily or by regulatory requirement, moved to clean up a variety of their properties (underground storage tanks, septic fields, industrial waste pits, contaminated storage areas, etc.) to reuse, resell or remediate to safe standards.
• Industry Canada reported that brownfield redevelopment “could create an economic contribution of $50-200 million per year…”
In undertaking these urgent tasks, as well as meeting the current demand from all other environmental activities in Canada and internationally, will require a coordinated strategy of all levels of government, the private sector, and Canada’s institutions of higher learning. Canada must face an urgent reality: a shortage of people, and therefore the competition for people, with the education and skills needed to meet the demands imposed by the growing waste management and environmental remediation sectors.
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