Canada’s abundant natural resources and its ability to develop them — sustainably and inclusively — are a significant comparative advantage in the global transition to a net-zero economy. That transition presents a generational economic opportunity for Canadians from coast to coast to coast. A key question on which Canada must collectively focus on is how to build on its regional comparative advantages in a manner that will create good jobs, economic opportunity and prosperity for all Canadians.
A significant part of the answer to that question is the Regional Energy and Resource Tables.
In mid-October, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Natural Resources, announced five more provinces and territories are formally joining the Regional Energy and Resource Tables initiative, which is a partnership between the federal and provincial and territorial governments to support strong communities and job creation in every region of Canada.
“Just as any successful business must be capable of interpreting and reacting to changes in the business environment, countries must also be capable of thoughtful response and action to sustain and enhance their level of prosperity. This initiative will enable provinces, territories, the federal government and key Indigenous partners to collectively accelerate economic activity and position Canada as an economic leader in the global shift toward a low-carbon future.”The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson
Minister of Natural Resources Canada, Government of Canada
With the addition of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, the Northwest Territories, and the Yukon, a total of eight provinces and territories are now participating in the Regional Energy and Resource Tables — after British Columbia, Manitoba and Newfoundland and Labrador helped launch Phase 1 on June 1, 2022. The federal government is setting up these tables during the next several months with the goal of establishing them with all 13 provinces and territories by early 2023.
”We look forward to the Table discussions and applaud Minister Wilkinson for this important initiative, which will help us align with the federal government on our provincial priorities such as small modular reactor development and hydrogen production and provide an opportunity for our key stakeholders to give input as we transition our economy to a net-zero world.”The Honourable Mike Holland
Minister of Natural Resources and Energy Development, Government of New Brunswick
At the federal level, the Regional Tables are an initiative led by Natural Resources Canada, involving multiple federal institutions, including Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada, the Regional Development Agencies and the Canada Infrastructure Bank. The Regional Energy and Resource Tables are collaborative fora that will bring the federal, provincial and territorial governments together with Indigenous partners, union partners, municipalities, industry, workers, experts and civil society to advance the top economic priorities in the natural resources space in every region of Canada through the development of place-based economic strategies. The Regional Energy and Resource Tables will gather input from relevant partners and seek to align resources, timelines and regulatory approaches to capitalize on key regional opportunities and priorities.
This collaboration will significantly advance the realization of economic opportunities that could range from mining critical minerals for made-in-Canada electric vehicles and batteries, to hydrogen in several regions across the country, to building small modular reactors. Other initiatives might include developing biofuels, making greater use of technologies such as carbon capture, utilization and storage, or advancing wind projects on the East Coast to generate clean electricity.
The Regional Energy and Resource Tables will provide an opportunity to align top priorities with Government of Canada program and funding instruments, such as the $8-billion Net Zero Accelerator, the $35-billion Canada Infrastructure Bank and the $3.8 billion allocated in Budget 2022 to implement Canada’s first Critical Minerals Strategy.
By working together, Canadians will create the good jobs and enduring prosperity that will come with the unprecedented economic opportunities of building a net-zero world.
- Budget 2022 included $25 million to launch the Regional Energy and Resource Tables to work with provinces, territories, Indigenous partners and relevant stakeholders to advance regional economic growth opportunities, accelerate energy transformation priorities and create sustainable jobs. This initiative was referred to in the Budget as Regional Strategic Initiatives.
- The Regional Energy and Resource Tables will build on work done by the Industry Strategy Council, which brings together business leaders to offer experienced perspectives from key sectors of our economy and to engage with a diverse set of businesses and stakeholders from coast to coast to coast, including labour and Indigenous Peoples. In its report “Restart, recover, and reimagine prosperity for all Canadians” released in 2020, the Council provided recommendations to:
- support all natural resource sectors in becoming global Environmental, Social Governance suppliers and product innovators;
- leverage clean technology strengths to accelerate exports and domestic adoption and decarbonize key industrial sectors; and
- incentivize all sectors to meet Paris commitments with a cost- and time-optimal decarbonization pathway.
- In the coming months, the Government of Canada will announce the details of the Pan-Canadian Grid Council, a technical advisory group with a mandate of removing barriers to providing clean electricity to every region of Canada by 2035. The Council will feed into the Regional Energy and Resource Tables process.
- The Government of Canada’s 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan: Canada’s Next Steps for Clean Air and a Strong Economy is a detailed plan that lays out an achievable sector-by-sector path toward Canada’s emissions reduction target of 40–45 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2050.
Featured Image: Photo by Andre Furtado: https://www.pexels.com/photo/photo-of-woman-wearing-sun-hat-2931062/