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Why the carbon tax could create a construction jobs boom

Construction workers could get a lot more work because of the carbon tax (Photo by Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images)

Conservatives are unwavering in their opposition to the carbon tax, Ontario Premier Doug Ford calls it “job killing”.

But it might be more appropriate to call it job shifting because the construction industry, which represents 14 per cent of Canada’s GDP, could see an explosion of new jobs.

In a new report, The Smart Prosperity Institute forecasts a wave of new investment in construction by 2025. It expects more than $2.5 billion to flow into the sector, creating an additional 19,000 jobs.

Mike Moffatt, the report's author, says high carbon prices push household and companies to lower their emissions to avoid the tax.

“The obvious one is in electricity generation: at higher carbon prices, coal becomes prohibitively expensive. So coal plants get replaced, partly by renewables (solar, wind), partly by hydro and even by natural gas (which has a lower carbon footprint than coal).” Moffatt, Senior Director of Policy and Innovation, told Yahoo Finance Canada.

“Needless to say, someone has to build all of these new plants. As well, upgrades are necessary to the grid, to allow for more 'intermittent' renewables.”

Moffatt also expects an increase in teardowns, especially older buildings, homes, factories, and office buildings.

“Those new buildings are a bit complicated to build because they're designed to be very energy efficient,” said Moffatt.

“We also see a fair bit of retrofits, of both homes and firms. In particular, we see a lot of installation of heating and cooling systems.”

Construction Jobs By Province: Gains or losses resulting from higher carbon prices (Smart Prosperity Institute)

Saskatchewan is expected to see the highest proportion of new construction jobs, followed by Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick, Alberta, and British Columbia.

“We see a lot of carbon capture-and-storage installations, particularly in the oil sands,” said Moffatt.

Moffatt expects another 20,500 new jobs will be created in other sectors of the economy as a result of the carbon tax and notes there’s a $26 trillion global opportunity in clean growth.

Jessy Bains is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitte@jessysbains

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