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Power Workers’ Union

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Overview

The Power Workers’ Union (PWU) is a proud Canadian union representing over 18,000 members from over 55 organizations, the vast majority of the unionized workers in Ontario’s electricity sector. The dedicated and highly-skilled men and women of the PWU operate and maintain generating stations (including all Bruce Power and Ontario Power Generation nuclear facilities) as well as transmission and distribution systems and grid control facilities across the province. The PWU has over seven decades of experience, knowledge and active participation in the energy sector that provides a proven track record of working with others in collaborative partnerships such as this SMR Action Plan.

The PWU is guided by the following principles: reliable, secure, safe, environmentally sustainable and reasonably priced electricity supply and service, that is supported by a financially viable energy industry and skilled labour force. These are essential for the continued prosperity and social welfare of the people of Ontario. A stable business environment and predictable, fair and focused regulatory framework will promote investment in technical innovation that results in efficiency gains. The PWU believes in equality, diversity and inclusion in Canada’s workforce and seeks to advance these objectives through our agreements and actions.

While an independent union, the PWU maintains affiliations with many other provincial and national industry and labour organizations, such as the Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA) and the Canadian Nuclear Workers Council (CNWC). The CNWC is an umbrella organization of unions representing workers in all sectors of the Canadian nuclear industry across Canada, including from electric power utilities, uranium mining and processing, radioisotope production for medical and industrial purposes and nuclear research.

The PWU sponsors many forward-looking organizations such as PlugNDrive that promotes electric vehicles and the Council for Clean and Reliable Energy (CCRE). The CCRE is a non-profit organization that provides an independent platform for public dialogue and reasoned analysis on subjects related to energy policy.

The PWU appreciates NRCan’s invitation to participate in its SMR Roadmap and Action Plan consultations. Such inclusive consultations will help enhance transparency and accountability as more detailed policies and a clear path forward for the advancement of SMR technologies in Canada are discussed and developed. The PWU looks forward to working with NRCan and other energy stakeholders to support Canada’s nuclear industry, advance a national Small Modular Reactor (SMRs) Action Plan and encourage innovation in Canada’s energy sector.

PWU Commitment and Vision

The PWU believes strongly that low-carbon electrification of our economy is key to achieving Canada’s greenhouse gas emission reduction targets while recognizing the need for low-cost, environmentally responsible energy that stimulates job growth. In minimizing environmental impacts, due consideration must be given to economic impacts and the efficiency and sustainability of all energy sources and existing assets.

The PWU believes that effective long-term energy policy and planning must support Ontario’s and Canada’s goals for reasonable and affordable electricity rates and carbon emission reductions associated with the generation of electricity. Nuclear energy makes a significant contribution to meeting the electricity needs of Ontario and New Brunswick. Both jurisdictions have nuclear energy resources and publicly-owned energy assets that represent significant opportunities to leverage the value of these energy advantages. Several, independent, expert analyses show that nuclear energy is a cost-effective way to tackle climate change and decarbonize our economy while creating real economic growth. Canada’s SMR technologies represent a significant opportunity to increase the role that low-carbon, nuclear energy can play across the entire country.

The PWU believes it can contribute to three of the four “Pillars” of Canada’s SMR Action Plan:

  1. Demonstration and Deployment:
    • Supporting an effective and efficient workforce transition to support these new nuclear technologies.
  2. Policy, Legislative, and Regulation:
    • Advancing an integrated approach to climate and energy policy and fleet deployment by communicating the role that SMRs could play in helping Canada meet its climate change and energy goals; underscoring the significant potential economic contributions. - Participating in the governing SMR Action Plan committees and other governing bodies such as the NEAC. Capacity, Engagement and Public Confidence:
  3. Raising public awareness, confidence, and encouraging engagement on SMRs.
    • Advocating for the inclusiveness of diversity and indigenous peoples in the nuclear sector.

ACTIONS

DEMONSTRATION AND DEPLOYMENT
Transition Strategy and Education
STATUS: UPCOMING
PWU01

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 37, 48

ACTION

The Roadmap recommended that the Organization of Canadian Nuclear Industries (OCNI) and Canada’s University Network of Excellence in Nuclear Energy (UNENE) engage their members in the Action Plan and take the lead in several areas to support the transition of Ontario’s nuclear sector to the deployment and operation of SMRs.

OCNI’s objective (Action 37) is to help transition Ontario’s existing supply chain from the underway reactor refurbishment work to prepare for a successful SMR-nuclear industry. UNENE’s objective (Action 48) is to ensure that programs are in place to provide the education, experience, skills and training that will be required by an SMR workforce.

The PWU supports these two organizations in preparing the nuclear sector for SMRs but also recognizes the crucial need to similarly prepare the existing nuclear reactor operator workforce. The pending closure of the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station (PNGS) in 2025 presents an opportunity to transition that workforce to support new reactors at the Darlington site. It takes several years to train and licence nuclear operators. Starting the process now would help ensure that the necessary workforce is available to support the operation of any new reactor required to meet Ontario’s electricity demands when needed in the late 2020s.

The PWU will continue to participate in consultations regarding workforce transition planning and leverage the many training collaborations that our Union has with other stakeholders in the energy sector.

EXPECTED RESULTS

Canada’s future nuclear workforce has the knowledge, skills and experience needed for our nuclear industry to meet the demands of new emerging SMR technologies.

POLICY, LEGISLATIVE, AND REGULATION
Climate, Energy Policy, and Fleet Deployment
STATUS: UPCOMING
PWU02

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 9, 18, 42

ACTION

The Roadmap recommended governments recognize the role of nuclear energy in addressing climate change (Actions 9 and 18). Utilities were encouraged to develop a “white paper” on potential pathways for SMR deployment (Action 42).

The PWU supports these objectives. Public surveys indicate that the vast majority of Canadians support government action on climate change. However, today there is no apparent clear, comprehensive national strategy that integrates Canada’s energy future with the country’s national climate action plan. The PWU believes that Canada’s nuclear technology advantages - economic and environmental - can play a significant role in this low-carbon energy transition.

The potential deployment of new reactors represents a critical opportunity to generate substantial environmental, economic and job benefits for Canada, including tax revenues, research and innovation capabilities, and energy security. Developing an analysis-based, strategic portfolio approach is critical to maximizing the potential benefits for Canada.

The PWU has used its knowledge, expertise and resources to provide fact-based analyses in support of Ontario’s nuclear reactor refurbishment programs, the life extension of the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station, and an integrated, reasoned approach to climate change and electricity policy.

The PWU will continue its advocacy initiatives to help inform Canadians about the important role Canada’s nuclear energy advantage can play in advancing our nation’s climate policies while delivering economic opportunities.

EXPECTED RESULTS

Identify the enabling steps required to determine and select the pathways required for Canada to secure a low-carbon economy in the future. This should be done in a manner that supports the achievement of a broad national consensus on Canada’s climate, energy and economic policy goals.

Key considerations and benefits for the transition to fleet deployment are identified. Canadians understand the pathways that could be undertaken to enable a fleet-based approach for SMR deployment in Canada and that maximise the jobs and economic benefits for Canadians.

POLICY, LEGISLATIVE, AND REGULATION
Nuclear Energy Advisory Council
STATUS: UPCOMING
PWU03

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 5, 32

ACTION

The Roadmap recommended that the Federal Government and the Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA) work together with “Team Canada” partners to create a Nuclear Energy Advisory Council (NEAC) that would establish strategic priorities going forward (Actions 5 and 32).

The PWU supports the need for such stakeholder dialog and collaboration. However, the composition of the NEAC as delineated in the Roadmap does not include labour representation or other members of “civic society”.

To help address this gap, the PWU would like to participate in the NEAC to provide labour’s perspective and to encourage the Council to strategically integrate the role of SMRs within Canada’s overall climate action plan.

EXPECTED RESULTS

A working Advisory Council that more broadly represents the views and participation of affected stakeholders in the development of nuclear energy’s role within Canada’s climate, energy and economic policies.

Transparency, accountability, & evidence-based decision-making that improves outcomes for Canadians and Canada.

CAPACITY, ENGAGEMENT AND PUBLIC CONFIDENCE
Public Engagement on SMRs, Diversity, and Indigenous Peoples
STATUS: UPCOMING
PWU04

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 12, 33, 53

ACTION

The roadmap recommended that the Federal Government, the Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA), and “Civil Society” increase their research activities and outreach to assess the attitudes and understanding that Canadians have of SMRs. The federal government was charged to do research on “energy options, including nuclear”, the CNA was charged with engaging other industry associations and an invitation was extended to “civil society”.

The PWU considers labour to be a critical member of “civil society” and has worked with others to ensure that equal opportunities and skills training exist in Canada’s nuclear industry for young men and women from across this country. The PWU believes in work place safety, equality, diversity and inclusion and seeks to advance these objectives through our collective agreements, the PWU training institute and support for programs, such as the UOIT’s Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) and the Electricity Human Resources Canada.

The PWU will continue its nuclear communications and outreach activities in support of Canada’s nuclear industry. This will focus on the benefits that nuclear and SMR technologies can play in Canada’s climate, energy and economic future and the jobs available to members of Canada’s diverse and indigenous workforce.

EXPECTED RESULTS

Popular public support for a clean energy transition that includes Canadian nuclear technologies.

Transparency, accountability, & evidence-based decision-making that improves outcomes for Canadians and Canada.

Note: Natural Resources Canada was responsible for the translation of this chapter.