OTTAWA — Canada’s clean-energy sector is growing faster than the economy as a whole and is rivalling some of the better-known industries for jobs, a new report shows.
Clean Energy Canada, a think tank at Simon Fraser University in B.C., released a study Thursday it commissioned to paint a real picture of an industry it feels nobody knows much about but that’s critically important to climate change and the economy.
“Other countries actually keep this data and Canada doesn’t,” said Merran Smith, executive director of Clean Energy Canada.
Clean energy isn’t actually classified as a sector in Canada, so the report pulled together the data by compiling information about the various components that make up clean energy.
People talk about the clean-technology sector often but clean energy encompasses more than high-tech firms making hydrogen fuel cells and electric cars, said Smith.
She said clean energy includes everything from the production and transmission of renewable electricity to transit workers and construction workers making buildings more energy-efficient. So a hydroelectric-dam operator, a bus driver and the person who installs a high efficiency furnace would all be included in Clean Energy Canada’s job count.
All told, the study concluded, nearly 300,000 Canadians were directly employed in clean energy in 2017, nearly 100,000 more than Statistics Canada data said worked in mining, quarrying and oil-and-gas extraction. There are 7.5 times as many people working in clean energy as in forestry and logging.
Smith said the goal of the report is to show Canadians just how big a piece of the economic pie clean energy represents.
“We were surprised to find how big the sector is,” she said. “What we found is that we’re missing more than half the picture when we talk about energy in Canada. We think of oil and gas, we think of pipelines, we think of Alberta, and we are missing this clean-energy sector which is in every province across the country.”
The study concluded clean energy accounted for about three per cent of Canada’s gross domestic product in 2017, or around $57 billion. It grew almost five per cent annually between 2010 and 2017, outpacing the 3.6 per cent growth of the economy as a whole.