Ottawa | Traditional, unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabeg People – Various experts at Environmental Defence offer their reactions to today’s Federal Fall Economic Statement and its impact on Canada’s climate change commitments, federal climate finance policy and federal government actions on just transition and housing, along with other environmental impacts.
Julia Levin, Associate Director, National Climate:
“Canada faces a dual challenge: tackling the climate crisis and making living costs more affordable. The surging price of fossil fuels, caused in large part by oil and gas industry profits, is making life unaffordable for people in Canada. The federal government must prioritize investments in alternatives to oil and gas. Kicking fossil fuels out of our homes and off our electricity grids means cleaner air, more comfortable homes and lower bills. Unfortunately, the Government of Canada continues to funnel huge public handouts to oil and gas companies for their false solutions like carbon capture and hydrogen, despite the massive profits these same companies are raking in. Carbon capture is unnecessary, ineffective, very expensive and exceptionally risky. Every dollar that goes towards Big Oil’s favourite greenwashing tactic is a dollar that can’t go towards proven and effective climate solutions which leave our communities better off. The Government of Canada must end all financial support for oil and gas – in any form and without delay.”
Julie Segal, Senior Program Manager, Climate Finance:
“If done right, the government’s commitment to a Taxonomy and mandatory climate disclosure can start aligning the financial sector with Canada’s required climate action. Our financial sector has been underregulated on climate, which hurts our ability to reduce emissions and create an affordable economy. For the proposed climate finance policies to be worth their salt, they have to distinguish between serious greenwashing and real climate action. A Taxonomy – a sustainable investment classification system – cannot greenlight any oil, gas, or coal while maintaining credibility. The next steps for the Taxonomy must be informed by independent climate experts. Disclosure can help hold financial institutions accountable for climate action, but must focus on ensuring companies set plans to cut emissions, not only count emissions. Rules to align finance with climate action have been the missing piece of Canada’s climate plan. This commitment from the government is progress on a file they have moved slowly on, but the promises need to turn into policies. The government must pick up the pace.”
Alienor Rougeot, Program Manager, Climate and Energy:
“We welcome the government’s renewed commitment to attaching labour conditions to investment tax credits, to ensure workers and their communities across Canada benefit from public investments in a clean economy. We eagerly await the promised legislation, which should include attaching both prevailing wage and apprenticeship requirements, informed by the input of workers and their unions. The government must also swiftly improve and pass the Sustainable Jobs Act to ensure workers are involved and supported in the transition to a sustainable economy.”
Phil Pothen, Program Manager, Land Use and Land Development:
“We welcome the government’s commitment to keep using the Housing Accelerator Fund – negotiated as part of the Supply and Confidence Agreement – to continue removing provincial and municipal barriers to compact and low-cost forms of housing within existing neighbourhoods and built-up areas, where they can be built most quickly and affordably. Because housing supply in fast-growing regions is being throttled by a shortage of construction capacity, directing construction to more compact forms and to existing neighbourhoods, where infrastructure does not need to be built from scratch, is the only realistic way to deliver the large number of homes Canadians need, fast enough to address housing shortages. Beyond that, providing housing in existing neighbourhoods, rather than continuing to force Canadians into suburban sprawl, is vital to retrofitting existing post-WWII neighbourhoods and saving what remains of wildlife habitats, wetlands and farms in Canada’s crisis ecoregions.
However we are disappointed, given the scale of the housing crisis and the severe risks of sprawl, that the government has not tied funding more expressly to municipal commitments to stop squandering construction on greenfield development and that funding for non-profit, co-op and public housing is nowhere near sufficient to deliver 20 per cent of new supply as non-market, affordable homes.”
Nate Wallace, Program Manager, Clean Transportation:
“This Fall Economic Statement was a missed opportunity to accelerate much-needed funding for public transit. This past summer, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Infrastructure of Communities had promised a new infrastructure funding program to replace the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP), to be unveiled this fall. Without a ‘next generation’ program, Canada is hitting the pause button on funding public transit. The Permanent Public Transit Fund is set to begin in 2026 and there is no interim transit program in place since ICIP was sunset in the 2022 Budget. Given the financial challenges of many cities across the country and the threat of significant transit service cuts in places like Toronto and Montreal, it is crucial for the federal government to accelerate the Permanent Public Transit funding program and expand it to include funding for public transit operations.”
Michelle Woodhouse, Program Manager, Water:
“The Fall Economic Statement includes proposed legislative action to introduce the Canada Water Agency Act and establish the standalone Canada Water Agency (CWA). The CWA will help to address a long-standing need to improve coordination and governance of freshwater management across Canada. It is imperative that the CWA and its legislation prioritizes reconciliation by fostering government-to-government and nation-to-nation relationships for the co-governance of shared waters with Indigenous Nations, while upholding Indigenous inherent and treaty water rights and roles. We also expect the agency to play a key role in both Western and Indigenous science, knowledge creation, and mobilization. Furthermore, the CWA must ensure a strengthened cooperative approach to shared water decision-making and management.”
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:
Lauren Thomas, Environmental Defence, email@example.com, 647-687-2687