Ottawa, Ont. – Following today’s Fall Economic Statement, we acknowledge the federal government’s continued efforts to fight COVID-19 and support people in Canada throughout this very difficult period. Keeping communities safe and supported must be the priority.
We welcome the investments announced for the green economy as part of today’s stimulus package, including grants to help homeowners make energy efficient retrofits and funds for building zero-emission vehicle charging stations across the country. Green investments are essential for building a resilient economy and strengthen Canada’s competitiveness in the long run. Though far greater investments are necessary to truly tackle the scale of the climate crisis, today’s announcements were an important step in the right direction.
For months, organizations from across civil society have made it clear that a just and green recovery must put people first. We’re therefore glad to see important commitments to tackle the social injustices people in Canada endure everyday, which are critical to ensuring a healthy and safe society for all. After years of tireless advocacy by First Nations communities today the federal government finally announced a $1.5 billion investment in clean, safe drinking water. The measures to improve child care across the country are likewise crucial to ensure that women can fairly participate in and benefit from green and just recovery efforts.
However, hiding in the details of this plan were some concerning elements. The first is a small modular nuclear reactor (SMR) Action Plan. SMRs are a dangerous and expensive distraction from more viable, cost-competitive decarbonization solutions. Secondly, a new credit support program was also created to support the hospitality and tourism sector. Any support to carbon-intensive industries such as airlines must, at the very least, come with robust “green strings” to ensure meaningful environmental outcomes are achieved.
We were not expecting a fully detailed green recovery plan today, but these announcements do reaffirm the government’s commitment to a just and green recovery. How seriously the government is responding to this public imperative will be clear in the next federal budget, due in early 2021. However, these investments in the green economy cannot tackle the climate crisis alone. We also need a plan to rapidly wind down production of fossil fuels in order to limit catastrophic levels of warming. This will require courage and leadership from our elected leaders.
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.
For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Barbara Hayes, Environmental Defence, firstname.lastname@example.org