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Cenovus CEO Alex Pourbaix announces a multi-year initiative focused on Indigenous communities near the company's oil sands operations in northern Alberta, at a news conference in Calgary, on Jan. 30, 2020.Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press

The CEOs of some of the biggest oil sands companies in Alberta say transitioning their work force for a net-zero emissions future isn’t about cutting jobs, but is about creating them.

Cenovus CEO Alex Pourbaix CVE-T says the consortium of oil sands behind an alliance to decarbonize their companies estimates that reaching their goal of net-zero emissions by 2050 will create 35,000 jobs.

Derek Evans, CEO of MEG Energy MEG-T, says he is actually worried that Canada doesn’t have the labour force needed to get the decarbonizing job done.

Their comments in an interview with The Canadian Press this week come as Alberta Premier Danielle Smith is pushing back against Ottawa’s plans to introduce “just transition” legislation to oversee the move to cut carbon emissions from industry.

Ms. Smith jumped on reports this week that a federal memo suggested millions of jobs will be lost in the transition, but the memo actually referred to the number of jobs that currently exist in industries that could be affected by decarbonization.

The Liberals have promised such legislation for more than three years and are expected to introduce it in the House of Commons sometime this year.