Parliament: Budget Implementation – Comment on Delay in Public Transit Funding

On Thursday, May 4th, 2017 in Debate, Parliament
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Elizabeth May

Mr. Speaker, I have two comments for my hon. colleague, and hopefully I will get a response to the second.

I feel honour bound to say that when the Harper administration brought in the tax credit for the use of buses, the Green Party opposed it because it did not put a single additional bus on the road. It did give a tax credit to people who were taking public transit anyway and who were already in an income bracket that would allow them to benefit from a tax credit. The credit was valuable to many people, but it did not contribute toward reducing greenhouse gases. An analysis of that bus tax credit showed that the cost per tonne in the reduction of greenhouse gases was so inefficient that it cost $1,000 per tonne, so I cannot now attack the present Liberal administration for removing something that I criticized the previous government for bringing in, but the public transit issue does merit more examination in the budget.

My second point is that $20 billion has been promised for public transit, but only somewhat less than $1 billion of that will be available before 2019. I would ask my hon. colleague the parliamentary secretary why we are not taking the climate crisis more seriously and spending the money sooner to help people find it more convenient to take public transit.

 

Terry Duguid - Winnipeg South, MB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. friend from Saanich—Gulf Islands for her advocacy on climate change. I know that as part of the Canadian delegation, she was an important part of the discussion in bringing the Paris climate agreement about.

I agree with her that the tax credit for transit ridership was ineffective. It did not reduce greenhouse gases and did not improve ridership.

I will also echo something the hon. member said. We are going to be investing, over the next 10 years, $28.7 billion in transit. That is a staggering amount of money after very little funding over the last 10 years. Again, we need the time to plan. In Winnipeg, for instance, the southwest transit corridor is being completed. It is in the planning stages now, and it will be ready for investment in 2018-2019.

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