Getting Canada’s Energy Future Right: A Consumer Lens on Energy in Canada

Energy for a Secure Future (ESF) is pleased to announce the launch of its third paper

Getting Canada’s Energy Future Right: A Consumer Lens on Energy in Canada  examines Canada's energy economy, focusing on residential, commercial, institutional, industrial sectors and power generation, in the context of the Government of Canada’s goal of net zero emissions by 2050.
Utilizing data from Statistics Canada and projections from the Canada Energy Regulator’s 2023 Outlook, the paper explores certainties, uncertainties, and critical questions Canada must answer with consumers in mind. 

The paper argues that Canada can only thrive if its approach to energy addresses a wide range of considerations.  

Key Takeaways:  

  • An alternative to the often discussed “energy trilemma” of affordability, reliability and environment is proposed as the basis for an approach to energy that supports the needs of consumers and society for the long-term: Energy Fundamentals, Social Acceptance and Environment – where fundamentals include safety and resilience alongside affordability and reliability. 
  • Industry, from resource development to manufacturing to agriculture, is the biggest consumer of energy in Canada, and this underpins the country’s economy, jobs, and standard of living. Policy decisions that negatively impact energy affordability and reliability for these consumers will disproportionately impact Canada’s job creation engine.  
  • Today, the electricity systems of Canada’s largest provinces are constrained, trying to meet current demand, let alone the broad electrification called for in net zero projections. Rapid construction of new generation, transmission and distribution assets will be needed and will strain labour supply, as well as regulatory approval processes.  
  • Trying to meet the idea of a net zero economy or energy system involves significant costs. The question of how these costs will be managed between ratepayers, taxpayers and other actors remains to be determined. 

There are lessons to be learned from other jurisdictions regarding what Canada needs to avoid in its energy approach – such as high household energy costs, de-industrialization, and capital flight. Canada can avoid these adverse outcomes by adopting a deliberate and strategic approach. Such an approach would prioritize the well-being of its expanding population, support major industries, and generate quality employment opportunities. Simply put, reducing emissions is one of many priorities. 

“Sarnia is a community at the intersection of energy, manufacturing, and trade. We have many innovators making traditional sectors cleaner and leading in new technology development. Our citizens have seen industry and jobs leave our region when electricity became too expensive in Ontario. We want to ensure that our experiences can inform a better approach as Canada pursues net zero as a goal.” 

- Mike Bradley, Mayor, City of Sarnia 

“As a farmer and president of an organization that represents food producers across the country, it is clear that realizing Canada’s agricultural potential depends on our approach to energy domestically. Today, our farms rely on diesel to run tractors and natural gas to dry grain and keep animals warm in a context where rural electrical systems have significant limitations. Getting energy right in Canada will ensure that we thrive as a country and are in a position to support the world’s food security.” 

- Keith Currie, President, Canadian Federation of Agriculture 

“Communities, workers, businesses, and governments across the country share the goal of a low-emission, affordable, and reliable energy system. But to get there, we need to make sure we are asking the right questions and drawing the right insights domestically and internationally. We are pleased to see this paper out and sparking important conversations.” 

- Shannon Joseph, Chair, Energy for a Secure Future 

You can access the full report using the following link: Getting Canada’s Energy Future Right: A Consumer Lens on Energy in Canada