Federal government gives $1.2M to Sask. groups to phase out coal

The funding comes as part of the federal government's Canada Coal Transition Initiative which seeks to phase out coal by 2030. The transition pays specific consideration to renewable power sources and retraining coal workers.

The money will go toward retraining workers and setting up solar power projects

The coal mine near Coronach, Sask. The town is one of five communities and groups in Saskatchewan that will share $1.2 million in funding from the federal government's Canada Coal Transition Initiative announced Friday. (SRC)

Five Saskatchewan communities are getting more than $1.2 million to phase out coal and bring in renewable alternatives.

The money comes by way of the federal government's Canada Coal Transition Initiative (CCTI), which started in 2018. The initiative is part of the federal government's goal to phase out all coal-fired electricity generation by 2030.

The organizations receiving funding are:

  • Southeast Regional College.
  • Sunrise Community Futures Development Corporation.
  • South Central Community Futures Development Corporation.
  • City of Estevan.
  • Town of Coronach.

The money from the federal initiative is meant to establish a plan for workers currently employed in the coal industry to be retrained to work in other fields.

The Southeast Regional College, for example, will receive $188,000 to establish a "solar installation training program and install a permanent and mobile solar training laboratory in Estevan," according to a release.

We have to do our part.… I'm not a climate change denier. We all have to work together.- Estevan Mayor Roy Ludwig

Estevan Mayor Roy Ludwig welcomes the assistance to help facilitate the transition to away from coal, but says keeping high-paying jobs in the area is a chief concern.

Ludwig said many jobs in the coal industry and at the coal-fired Boundary Dam Power Station near Estevan offer six-figure salaries. As renewable power options become more prevalent, he hopes the new jobs will still pay well.

Having worked in coal for decades, Ludwig says he knows the industry well.

"I've been on the dragline, I've been under the tipple, I was blasting coal. I've pretty much done everything over the 43 years," said Ludwig, who is currently employed by the Westmoreland Coal Company.

But the mayor also said that Estevan would not give up on clean coal technology and sequestration of CO2.

Though he welcomes the transition, he says coal-fired electricity should have role as a backup to green technology.

And if Canada is going to step up to tackle carbon emissions, he wants every nation to be onboard.

"It's very important that the whole world get onside, because otherwise we're fighting a losing battle," said Ludwig.

"We have to do our part. I mean, I'm not a climate change denier. We all have to work together, I get that," he said.

"All you have to do is look around at the changes in the weather patterns."

Ludwig said the city is looking to build a 10-megawatt solar project, and will submit a request for proposals this September.

Phase out 'requires a federal response': province

"The accelerated phase-out of conventional coal-fired electricity is a government of Canada decision that requires a federal response to ensure workers and communities are not left behind," the government of Saskatchewan said in an emailed statement.

"We recognize this funding is part of that response. The government of Saskatchewan acknowledges the important contribution coal workers, their families, and communities have made to the province and is ready and willing to work with the federal government to provide support."

Amarjeet Sohi, minister of natural resources, made the announcement of the new funding Friday in Nisku, Alta. Four Alberta organizations will also receive funding.

In total the federal government announced $4,489,100 in funding on Friday.

"We all know that Canada committed to transitioning away from coal-fired electricity generation by 2030 and we are here to support those communities that are impacted by that transition," said Sohi.