Regional Energy and Resource Tables
Canada’s abundant natural resources and its ability to develop them – sustainably and inclusively – is a significant comparative advantage in the global transition to a net-zero economy. This means we have a generational opportunity to create prosperity and high-quality jobs for Canadians – from coast to coast to coast, and for generations to come.
The Regional Energy and Resource Tables (Regional Tables) are a key part of the Government of Canada’s efforts to seize this historic moment and ensure Canadians reap the economic benefits of climate action.
Through the Regional Tables, the Government is seeking to establish joint partnerships with each province and territory, as well as formal collaboration with Indigenous partners, to identify and accelerate opportunities to transform Canada’s traditional resource industries and advance emerging ones.
The Regional Tables will empower the provinces and territories to decide their economic priorities and work collaboratively with the federal government to achieve them as part of a net-zero economy.
As these region-specific opportunities are agreed upon with each province and territory, individual action plans will be developed to align resources, timelines and regulatory approaches. This collaborative effort is essential to realizing economic opportunities that could range from cleaner fuels production in British Columbia to wind projects generating clean electricity on the East Coast. Other priorities could include mining the critical minerals needed for made-in-Canada electric vehicles, batteries and other clean technologies, or building small modular reactors, developing biofuels and making greater use of carbon capture use and storage.
To support these efforts, the government will also enlist the expertise and insights of key stakeholders, including municipalities, industry, workers and unions.
All of this is designed to help ensure that federal funding from existing sources are directed toward top regional priorities and projects, including 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, we will create the good jobs and enduring prosperity that will come with the unprecedented economic opportunities of building a net-zero world.
The Regional Tables are a formal partnership between the federal and provincial and territorial governments, and the meaningful engagement of Indigenous partners. Other participants will include:
- municipal governments
- workers and labour representatives
- industry and business leaders
- academics and sector-specific experts
The Regional Tables will evolve over time to ensure tangible outcomes are achieved. This includes informing Canada’s approach to supporting workers and communities and creating sustainable jobs, as well as co-operatively and collaboratively developing resource-based economic strategies that reflect Canada’s regional diversity.
These strategies will also provide direction to workers, labour organizations, businesses, and governments with respect to the job opportunities created by a net-zero transition. In essence, the Regional Tables will seek to answer the question: “What are we transitioning to?”
At the same time, the Government is working with Canadians to deliver on it commitment of Sustainable Jobs legislation and comprehensive action for a fair and equitable transition to the low-carbon economy.
The Regional Tables aim to align regional priorities, funding and financing opportunities, as well as policy and regulatory approaches to accelerate economic activity and position every region in Canada to lead in areas where they have, or can reasonably create, comparative advantage in the net-zero future.
Across Canada, regional growth opportunities are likely to come from new products and processes that enable a low-carbon future – such as electric cars and buses, battery technology, critical minerals, clean hydrogen, small modular reactors, carbon removal, renewable energy, biofuels and other clean technologies – and new uses for old products. Other opportunities will come through increased demand for traditional goods produced in an ultra low-carbon manner – such as low-carbon steel and aluminum.
Regionally focused collaboration
Canada is both a vast country and a decentralized federation where each region has a unique set of natural resources, energy systems, labour markets and regulatory approaches. The economic opportunities available to each region – and therefore the approaches to net-zero emissions and a nature-positive future – will be different across the country.
Independent thought-leaders in Canada such as the Transition Accelerator, Quest Canada, and the Canadian Climate Institute have been calling on the federal government to play a convening role while each region of the country drives toward the net-zero economy in ways that will work best for them.
Global spotlight/ International approaches
At the global level, the International Energy Agency has specifically recommended the federal government coordinate closely with provincial and territorial authorities to identify region-specific opportunities and align key actions needed for long-term emissions reductions by 2050.
The Government of Australia, another decentralized federation, has pursued a similar initiative with state governments to accelerate low-carbon energy opportunities and clean electricity grid development with multi-party regional agreements.
For its part, the United Kingdom has developed an energy security strategy that aligns opportunities to invest in renewables, energy efficiency, hydrogen, clean electricity and nuclear with skill development and employment opportunities.
The Regional Tables are proceeding via a phased approach. British Columbia, Manitoba and Newfoundland and Labrador helped launch Phase 1 on June 1, 2022. The second phase was announced on October 13 with New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, the Northwest Territories, and the Yukon. With Ontario announcing its participation on October 25, a total of nine provinces and territories are now participating in the Regional Tables.
Our goal is to have Regional Tables established with every province and territory by early 2023.
There are three main elements to the process:
- Close individual partnerships between the federal government, provinces, and territories to identify and accelerate an agreed-upon list of two to four key economic growth priorities in each province and territory.
- A tailored approach to engagement with Indigenous partners to reflect their priorities and perspectives on regional opportunities.
- A process to seek input from municipal governments, experts, industry, labour, non-profit organizations and others.
Once the high-impact and place-specific opportunities are determined, joint action plans will be developed with each province and territory for close collaboration over the next two years. Each joint action plan would focus on tangible steps to align resources and investments, streamline regulatory and permitting processes, and advance policy tools, as well as identifying key issues and barriers to be overcome.
These efforts will culminate in the development of economic strategies that identify the top economic opportunities in each region and associated plans to advance them. These strategies will also integrate Indigenous perspectives on regional opportunities; incorporate input from experts; and engage with industry, labour, municipalities and other relevant stakeholders.
In addition to addressing key economic opportunities associated with a low-carbon transition, the Regional Tables will provide a forum to discuss how we can work together to ensure that electrical generation capacity and our provincial and regional electrical grids will be capable of meeting the requirements of decarbonisation and the increased demand associated with broad electrification.
While the Regional Tables are a partnership between the federal and provincial and territorial governments, they are also a whole-of-government initiative being led at the federal level by Natural Resources Canada and involving multiple federal institutions, including Innovation, Science, and Development Canada, the Regional Development Agencies and the Canada Infrastructure Bank.
Investing in a net-zero economy
To build a net-zero economy by 2050, Canada will need between $125 billion and $140 billion in combined annual investments from the public and private sectors. By collectively identifying and advancing top growth opportunities, both public dollars and private capital can be strategically directed with maximum effect for economic growth, climate outcomes and sustainable job creation.
Budget 2022 announced funding for Regional Tables. Once shared priorities and opportunities are identified, there will be ways to draw on existing funds across government. To support regional opportunities, governments will look to leverage funds through existing and new programs and initiatives. Federal programs that may be drawn upon include:
- Smart Renewables and Electrification Pathways Fund
- The Strategic Innovation Fund-Net-Zero Accelerator
- Electricity Pre-Development Program
- Low Carbon Economy Fund
- Business Development Corporation
- Canada Infrastructure Bank
- Funding for Canada’s Critical Minerals Strategy that was included in Budget 2022
- Canada Growth Fund announced in Budget 2022
- The Clean Fuels Fund
These federal funding and financing tools can be coupled with resources from other orders of government, major investors such as public pension funds, and the private sector.
Through the Regional Tables, we will develop a competitive and highly prosperous, sustainable natural resource-driven economy – an economy that creates wealth and jobs in every region of this country while ensuring that we achieve our ambitious climate and nature goals.
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