Federal government should do more to create greener workplaces: report

The impacts of climate change can be felt by Canadians everywhere, and as Canada’s largest employer, the federal government must be a leader in the transition to greener workplaces.

That means providing the right tools and opportunities for federal public service workers – including more than 140,000 PSAC members – to reduce their emissions and carbon footprint, according to a new report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).

The report, “Leading the Way? A critical assessment of the federal Greening Government Strategy,” recommends several steps the government should take to meet its goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, the Greening Government Strategy target deadline.

Replacing outdated vehicle fleets, introducing remote and flexible work arrangements and energy efficient transit and workplaces are just a few things the CCPA recommends the government should implement to reduce emissions.

We're facing a climate crisis. As the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report also makes clear, we are already in climate emergency that requires immidiate and drastic action.

“The federal government is one of the largest owners of property and vehicles in the country as well as the largest procuring entity, so cleaning up its own operations can make a meaningful contribution to Canada’s emission reduction targets,” the report notes.

Barriers to progress

The report highlights three obstacles to achieving greener workplaces:

  1. Loopholes: some of biggest public emitters are excluded from climate strategies and targets (Department of National Defence and federal Crown corporations like Canada Post, Via Rail and Canada Development Investment Corporation, as well as some leased buildings);
  2. Lack of urgency and specificity: for example, the Office of the Auditor General concluded that many of the draft 2019-22 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy’s targets and strategies were so disconnected from key priorities and indicators that they could not be assessed.
  3. Inadequate support: for the public service, which is ultimately responsible for implementing emission reduction programs.

Taking bold action now

The gravity of our climate emergency requires bold action now. The federal government must take concrete steps to support public service workers in reducing workplace emissions. Remote and flexible work options, bike storage, workplace showers, providing public transit passes, and installing equipment that meets high energy efficiency standards are a few proposals outlined in the report.


August 13, 2021