Nearly 274,000 Canadians had green jobs in 2016, according to new estimates released by the federal government's statistical agency.
And with an average annual salary of about $92,000, including benefits, these Canadians are earning a lot more than the average worker, who makes about $59,000, Statistics Canada reported on Wednesday.The agency tallied all jobs related to environmental and clean technology for the year. This total represents 1.5 per cent of the total jobs in the economy, according to the report. The Trudeau government says it can use the new analysis by Statistics Canada to start measuring how green policies could potentially benefit the economy. Canada is among the first countries to measure the impact of clean tech and environmental goods and services on a national level, the government says.
Growth in green employment since 2007
"We're transforming data into insight to help us understand the environmental and social impacts of clean technologies on the Canadian economy — an important part of our vision for a clean, innovative economy that balances economic growth and environmental protection," Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr said in a statement.
The numbers also show that employment in the environmental and clean tech sector grew by 4.5 per cent since 2007, which is a slower rate of growth compared to jobs in the rest of the economy, which rose by 8.4 per cent over the same period, Statistics Canada said.
The International Renewable Energy Agency, an intergovernmental organization that promotes clean energy, recently estimated that 24 million people would have jobs in the renewable energy sector around the world by 2030. But the agency did not have any estimates or projections available for Canada, which is not yet a member of this organization.
Anil Arora, Canada's chief statistician, said in a statement that all Canadians, including businesses and governments, can use the new data to make better decisions on the best way to promote sustainable growth and jobs.
The new numbers could also provide fresh context for ongoing debates about government efforts to transition away from fossil fuels.
Clean tech economic contribution 'stable'
Oil and gas companies have been aggressively promoting the need for new pipelines to support growth in the oilsands, part of the world's third largest reserves of crude oil after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.
While the oilsands are considered to represent about two per cent of the Canadian economy, Statistics Canada said in its new data that environmental and clean technology activities accounted for about 3.1 per cent, or $59.3 billion, of Canadian gross domestic product in 2016.
In terms of job numbers, Canada's oil and gas main oil and gas industry lobby group, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, has estimated that the oilsands sector in Western Canada accounted for 151,000 direct jobs in 2015.
And with an average annual salary of about $92,000, including benefits, these Canadians are earning a lot more than the average worker, who makes about $59,000, Statistics Canada reported on Wednesday.
But there is also a crossover between green jobs and some of those jobs in the oilsands sector. Statistics Canada told National Observer that its estimate of 274,000 clean tech and environmental jobs included some oilsands jobs that are related to reducing environmental impacts.
The agency also said that the proportion of the economy dedicated to clean energy and technologies had "remained relatively stable" over the past decade.
The Trudeau government has said it wants to ramp up Canada's clean growth, and noted on Wednesday that it had announced a $2.2 billion investment in the clean tech sector in its last federal budget in 2017.
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains told National Observer in an email that the global market presents a "promising opportunity" for Canadian businesses. He also noted that the sector was a source of new clean jobs for the middle class and prosperity for all Canadians.
"When it comes to clean technology, Canada has the opportunity to be a true global leader — creating good, well-paying jobs for Canadians while helping to meet our climate change goals," Bains said. "Unlike the previous government, our government is taking steps to boost the growth of Canada's clean technology sector, with the aim of fostering the growth of Canadian technologies and companies."
Editor's note: This article was updated at 5:25 p.m. ET on Wednesday with additional comments from Navdeep Bains.