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Experts Respond to the 2022 Federal Budget

Press Release

Tim Gray, Executive Director:

The world is facing mounting ecological and humanitarian crises. The time is now for bold, ambitious action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, protect our health from chemical pollution in our water and communities, and get rid of single-use plastics. Today’s budget contained some hopeful measures, but above all, the federal government should be prioritizing the needs of people over oil and gas corporations. Yet this budget continues Canada’s pattern of giving huge windfalls to industrial polluters with limited investment in creating the cleaner future we need and the prosperity that could flow from it.

Julia Levin, Senior Climate and Energy Program Manager:

Minister Freeland has bowed to Big Oil lobbyists and implemented their carbon capture tax subsidy. Carbon capture is not a climate solution – it’s a greenwashing strategy used to justify more fossil fuel production and get more taxpayer money into the pockets of executives and shareholders. By relying on future unproven techno-fixes to cut emissions, the government is gambling with our lives. Instead of creating yet another fossil fuel subsidy, the government should have invested in proven climate solutions, including renewable energy, efficient affordable housing, and electrification of transportation.

Karen Wirsig, Plastics Program Manager:

We will be watching to ensure that the money allocated in Budget 2022 for regulations to curb plastic pollution serve to speed up crucial measures, such as bans on single-use plastics, requirements for recycled content and reporting from producers. The only way to eliminate plastic pollution by 2030 is to reduce the production and use of plastic. That will require strong regulations and a shift to reused and refilled packaging to eliminate the more than 2 million tonnes of garbage generated every year in Canada from plastic packaging alone.

Aliénor Rougeot, Climate and Energy Program Manager:

The current budget allocations to the promised ‘just transition’ to a low carbon economy are inadequate, and give Canadian workers and communities little reassurance that they will be supported through this transition. Financing a just transition requires the significant investment of public funding – for income support, retraining, bridges to retirement and, as a last resort, fair relocation to other communities. Governments should also be developing a more just economy overall, by investing in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and a better service economy.

Michelle Woodhouse, Water Program Manager:

The investments made today will help address the immense pressures that Canada’s freshwater sources will face in the coming decades from climate change, increased urbanization, and industrial activity. Budget 2022 proposes $133 million for freshwater investment across Canada and this is a welcome investment. However, the Great Lakes alone require more than that. In 2021, our neighbours to the South reauthorized the bipartisan Great Lakes Restoration Initiative program for five years. The level of funding increased to $375 million for 2022 and is set to increase by $25 million annually until it reaches $475 million in 2026. Canada shares responsibility for the Great Lakes with the U.S., and we hope to see future budgets increase investment to more closely match American levels.

Cassie Barker, Senior Toxics Program Manager:

Today’s announcement recommits $476.7 million for the Chemicals Management Plan (CMP), and we will be looking at how this funding brings forward a new era of chemicals assessment and management. We hope that it will allow the CMP to replace their chemical-by-chemical assessment process with more class-based assessments of hazardous substances. That way, when one chemical is banned, it cannot be replaced with another that may be just as problematic. We also need this program investment to result in more precautionary decision-making to protect Indigenous, racialized and low-income communities from being disproportionately impacted by toxic exposures.

Julie Segal, Senior Program Manager, Climate Finance:

Today’s budget confirms that sustainable finance is underdeveloped in Canada and the government is not doing enough to fix this. We’re pleased to see the commitment to make climate-related financial disclosures mandatory by 2024, but we worry this promise will get watered down in the details, like with the Canadian Securities Administrator’s recent consultation on climate disclosure. Canada’s private finance sector is not aligned with net-zero – which puts the whole country’s climate action off track. But instead of recognizing sustainable finance as a broad-reaching public policy which requires public consultation, the government reaffirmed handing off the responsibility of aligning private capital with net-zero to the Sustainable Finance Action Council.

Phil Pothen, J.D., M.L.A., Ontario Environment Program Manager

For decades, Canada’s federal programs and infrastructure dollars promoted the expensive low-density sprawl that has wreaked havoc on the environment and pushed housing prices out of reach for many Canadians. It’s encouraging to see this budget’s express focus on increasing the density of neighborhoods to deliver housing supply and improve affordability. However, the devil will be in the details. We look forward to helping the government and MPs develop clear rules for infrastructure and housing investment that will produce millions of compact, lower-cost homes in the existing neighborhoods where they’re needed, not high-priced, car-dependent sprawl.

ABOUT ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence is a leading Canadian environmental advocacy organization that works with government, industry and individuals to defend clean water, a safe climate and healthy communities.

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For more information or to request an interview, please contact:

Barbara Hayes, Environmental Defence, [email protected]

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