Toronto, Ont. – We are disappointed with this budget. We were hopeful that the Ontario government would take this opportunity to revisit and reset its hostile approach to the environment. Sadly, that’s not the case.
The near-term focus on COVID-19 and the additional assistance for families, citizens, and small businesses will be appreciated. However, governments around the world are making plans for a green recovery from COVID-19 and putting climate change at the centre of their efforts to create jobs. Ontario’s budget barely references climate change. And it doesn’t provide any funding for even the few climate change programs the government has already committed to in its Environment Plan. Where is the $400 million promised for the emissions reduction fund, for example?
The section on Protecting Ontario’s Environment is full of contradictions. For example, the government touts Ontario’s clean electricity supply, though the budget omits that the electricity sector is projected to see a 300 per cent rise in emissions by 2030 due to an increased reliance on natural gas. Likewise, that section asserts that relatively minor spending on data-gathering will see that “flood risk is reduced,” even though the government recently undermined the ability of Conservation Authorities to stop dangerous development in floodplains and hazard areas.
We are glad that there is no mention of funding set aside for the controversial Highway 413. The next step must be for the government to cancel this unnecessary project which would cost Ontario at least $6 billion.
Unfortunately, the Bradford Bypass, otherwise known as the Holland Marsh Expressway, is mentioned in the budget. This highway would bulldoze through the Greenbelt and the Holland Marsh, one of the most productive agricultural specialty crop areas in the country and one of the largest wetlands in the region, causing severe stormwater and groundwater impacts.
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 arrange an interview, please contact: Allen Braude, Environmental Defence, firstname.lastname@example.org