The figures don’t lie: Budget 2019 short-changes the fight against climate change

OTTAWA – Although the Trudeau government continues to insist that it’s committed to decisive action on the climate crisis, Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s 2019 federal budget tells a very different story.

“It just doesn’t add up,” said Green Party Leader Elizabeth May (MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands). “The budget’s total commitment to a suite of energy efficiency and clean economy initiatives is less than $1.5 billion over five years — $300 million a year. Under a year ago, this government spent $4.5 billion to buy a leaky 65-year-old oil pipeline and wants to spend another $10 billion to expand it.”

Ms. May said that while measures such as subsidizing the cost of zero-emission vehicles, promoting energy efficiency and phasing out coal-fired power generation were all laudable, their combined impact falls far short of the effort needed to ensure that Canada meets its commitments under the Paris climate agreement – reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45per cent below 2010 levels by 2030.

“Why aren’t we seeing major investments in expanding renewable energy resources, help for homeowners to reduce energy waste from their homes and install solar PV roofing tiles, heat pumps and geothermal heating. What about more ambitious nation-building initiatives like a modern, national passenger rail network and building an east-west electricity grid to speed the decarbonisation of our electricity sector.”

Ms. May said that, as befits a budget delivered in an election year, Canadians will welcome many of the initiatives announced in Budget 2019, including a housing strategy to prioritize needs of the most vulnerable; lower interest rates on student loans; enhancing the guaranteed income supplement for low-income seniors; protecting workplace pensions in event of corporate insolvency; and new measures to fight money laundering and terrorist financing.

“But there’s a catch. All of these measures – some positive, others that don’t go nearly far enough to address the stated problem – depend on separate legislation and that means that none of them will be adopted before the election. I hope that Canadians will see through the fact that this is an election platform masquerading as a budget,” Ms. May continued.

“On a personal level, I am delighted to see that after eight years of pressing successive finance ministers, the government has taken the first steps towards eliminating the “gold-digger clause” by creating a new $150 million fund to ensure that the surviving spouses of veterans who married after the age of 60 are able to collect benefits.”