Green Party Economic Stimulus Package

Executive Summary

The current financial crisis and attendant economic downturn is a grave concern.  Nevertheless, it creates, as do all moments of crisis, an opportunity for innovation and creativity.  It is clear we must not allow speculative bubbles to threaten the real economy.  Real jobs building real things in Canada should be favoured over short-term, speculative and largely imaginary, economic activity, such as, hedge funds, and pyramid schemes.   A "made in Canada" policy should apply to all government purchases--military equipment, Coast Guard vessels, etc.  Shipping government contracts overseas or down south is unacceptable while thousands of manufacturing jobs are being lost here in Canada.

A consensus has emerged among governments around the world that policies aimed to balance budgets will only deepen and protract the economic crisis, and so, many countries are now embracing deficits and government spending.  Canada should embrace this new approach, but the pendulum must not be allowed to swing so far as to allow for structural deficits that will keep Canada in a weakened position long-term.

The stimulus spending should stay within the International Monetary Fund guideline of 2% of GDP to kick-start the slowing economy.   The new economic climate should not be used as an excuse for ideologically driven measures such as those promoted in the November Economic Statement, or to unnecessarily weaken Canada’s environmental regulations and legislation.

Canada anticipates much of what will be in President-elect Barack Obama's stimulus package.  His call for a Green New Deal has been endorsed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Such a Green New Deal will do more than bail out failed industries and will not just throw money at all of our problems.  A Green New Deal will stimulate economic activity while shifting the economy to a more sustainable path.
 
In the Green Economic Stimulus Plan, government spending will be an investment in the future of Canada.  Every dollar spent must benefit Canadians today and tomorrow.  This Green Economic Plan will create jobs that are sustainable, increase the health and quality of life for future generations, and help create an economy that is resilient against sudden shocks.

Guiding Criteria for Economic Stimulus Package

  1. Create new jobs and stimulate the economy within Canada, emphasizing local and regional economies;
  2. Capitalize on the opportunity to build long-lasting infrastructure;
  3. Invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency and help shift Canada's economy for the low-carbon demands of the future;
  4. Extend Canada’s Social Safety Net and Provide Tax Relief. 

      Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada


Green Party Economic Stimulus Package

The Opportunity Before Us

The economic crisis that started in the United States has permeated most countries of the globe including Canada.  Economic experts tell us it is likely to affect us for at least the next 3 to 5 years-- more if we don't react quickly and intelligently.  We face a great challenge, but with every great challenge comes a great opportunity.

The Green Party believes this is Canada's opportunity to shift from an economic model based on the unsustainable exploitation of our resources to a sustainable and resilient economic model based on conservation and renewable resources, a model that advances the common good and ensures quality of life for all Canadians. Canada can meet this challenge by investing in innovative solutions that are part of a comprehensive vision for our country - a vision rooted in Canadian values.  Responsible budgeting, forward-looking investing, and a concern for those who are least fortunate among us are the principles that guide our economic planning.  

Therefore, under the Green Economic Stimulus Plan government spending will be an investment in the future of Canada.  Every dollar spent must benefit Canadians today and tomorrow.  This Green Economic Plan will create jobs that are sustainable, increase the health and quality of life for future generations, and help create an economy that is resilient against sudden shocks.

Investing Wisely

Although the Conservative government was handed a surplus when it took office, it has managed to create a deficit in a very short time.  This government has led Canada back into deficits through irresponsible spending increases and ineffective tax-cuts in an attempt to gain partisan advantage.  

Canada deserves a more responsible government.  Canada deserves a government that plans for the future and budgets accordingly.  Just as the Green Party believes in living within our ecological limits, we believe in a government that will operate within fiscal limits.  

The Green Party is dedicated to balancing the federal budget, but we also understand that the current economic situation requires immediate investment.  We are committed, however, to refraining from participating in massive corporate bailouts and we are opposed to drastic measures that would involve swinging between heavy economic intervention and widespread deregulation.  

The Green Party will reduce government waste, increase efficiency, and provide tax relief. It will also ensure every dollar invested today provides jobs, helps diversify the Canadian economy, and protects our common wealth: the environment.  The Green Economic Plan will ensure a better quality of life for all Canadians.

Costs and Benefits

Canada cannot afford to continue giving out corporate handouts while depleting its resources.  It is time to invest in rebuilding resources and industries in a way that leads to a resilient economy.

Canada's stimulus spending should stay within the IMF, OECD, G20 and APEC recommendations that governments apply 2% of their GDP to kick-starting the slowing economy.

A successful economic stimulus should result in long term benefits and move Canada forward into the low-carbon future.  It should help repair our degraded environment to improve the opportunities of future generations and ensure they have access to the resources needed to meet the challenges they will face. It should improve the quality of life of all Canadians and should help redress the inequities faced by First Nations people.

The Green Economic Plan will:

  1. Create Jobs in a new sustainable economy, ensuring our domestic economy thrives at the local and regional levels throughout Canada
  2. Build Sustainable Infrastructure geared to a low-carbon future
  3. Invest in renewable energy production and Initiate a Canada Energy Efficiency Plan     
  4. Advance Education and Technology for a new economy
  5. Extend Canada's social safety net to help those most in need
  6. Lower Taxes to redress inequities

The Green Economic Plan will NOT:

  1. Bail out the failed industries
  2. Depend mainly on depletion of Canada's primary resources
  3. Build more roads
  4. Expand the tar sands or its related MacKenzie gas pipeline
  5. Continue to hand out corporate subsidies to the oil, gas and nuclear sectors
  6. Use deficit financing to entrench an old economy


1.  Create Jobs in a New Sustainable Economy

Canada anticipates much of what will be in President-elect Barack Obama's stimulus package.  His call for a Green New Deal has been endorsed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Such a Green New Deal will do more than bail out failed industries and will not just throw money at all of our problems.  A Green New Deal will stimulate economic activity while shifting the economy to a more sustainable path.
Our plan for Canada is an immediate economic stimulus package that creates jobs to compensate for the steady loss of the old economy's jobs. To do this there needs to be many small programs and projects delivered at the local community level that can begin in the next few months and be up and fully running by this summer.

The Green Party will:

1.1    Support Small Business

  • Establish a federally funded Small Cities Green Venture Capital Fund to support viable local green business start-ups.

1.2 Increase First Nations Participation in Canada's Economy

  • Facilitate First Nations participation as partners in projects to create sustainable, long-term economic benefits based on real consultation and accommodation.

1.3 Invest in New Forestry

The forest industry is one of Canada's largest employers, operating in over 300 communities and providing nearly 900,000 direct and indirect jobs across the country. 

Canada needs smart spending and decisive economic policies if we are to make sure our forest industry is able to capitalize on the investments it has already made - modernizing its mills, diversifying its markets, and greening its product. 
  • Extend the EI Work-Sharing Program and extend EI benefits for seasonally unemployed workers
  • Reform federal tax structures to ensure competitive value-added industries.

1.4    Invest in Agriculture and Local Food Economies

Agriculture and local food economies are needed to ensure Canada's food security. With growing concerns over economic and climatic instability, a reliable domestic food supply is essential. Family owned and operated farms of small to medium size constitute the most reliable, high quality and economical food production system.  According to a 2006 report by the University of Essex, organic farming in the UK provides 32 per cent more jobs per farm than comparable non-organic farms. Interestingly, the report also concluded that the higher employment observed could not be replicated in non-organic farming through initiatives such as local marketing. Instead, the majority (81 per cent) of total employment on organic farms was created by the organic production system itself. The report estimates that 93,000 new jobs would be created if all farming in the UK were to convert to organic.
  • Provide $500 million in a fund to farmers to transition to organic agriculture (funded through eliminated the GST exemption for agricultural pesticides)
  • Provide $50 million for local farmers markets
  • Provide assistance to family farms so they can supply supermarket chains by supporting companies or co-operatives which will offer warehousing, refrigeration, packaging, marketing and selling to enable small farms to compete with large farms.
  • Shift government-supported research away from biotechnology and energy-intensive research and development farming and towards research into making organic food production commercially viable.
  • Invest in wild fisheries and large scale rehabilitation of habitat and spawning rivers.

1.5   Invest in Manufacturing

Our generation has the potential to capitalize on the single biggest business opportunity in human history: the shift to a low-carbon economy.  Whether this is driven by high energy prices, dwindling oil supplies, or the climate crisis, the country that mobilizes resources to develop and commercialize low carbon products and technologies will survive price shocks and emerge with a thriving economy.  Canada can be that country. 

We can diversify our economy with increased value-added manufacturing.  We can increase our ability to compete on the world markets.  We can ensure our economy is second to none.

The Green Party will stimulate Canadian manufacturing by:

  • Earmark $1 billion of "bailout money" for the auto industry to retool one or more of the closing auto assembly plants to plants that manufacture hybrid, low emission or electric cars.
  • Help capitalize establishment of photo voltaic cell, solar hot water and wind turbine manufacturing plants in Canada.
  • Support new capital investment in updated manufacturing equipment, waste reduction, and the production of biofuel from wood waste and new manufacturing to transition the forest industry into modern value-added industry as opposed to a focus on low value products and raw log exports.
1.6  Arts & Culture have a very high economic multiplier in terms of dollars returned to the economy and jobs created.  Arts and Culture also give us a sense of who we are and what our role is in the world. 

Already in 2003-2004, with an investment of $7.7 billion from three levels of government, the arts and culture sector directly employed 600,000 people and generated $40 billion for the Canadian economy.  Further, exports of Canadian cultural products increased by 80% between 1996 and 2005, reaching $2.4 billion, with great potential for further growth.

The Green Party will:
  • Increase funding to all of Canada's Arts and Culture organizations including The Canada Council for the Arts, Telefilm Canada, orchestras, theatres and publishers. The goal will be to make increases in this sector commensurate with increases in support over the years for other sectors of the economy such as the auto industry, health care, and the oil and gas sector.
  • Increasing funding to $300 million for cultural festivals, arts programs and supervised youth amateur sports programs starting in summer 2009 to employ people in the arts and culture field.

2.  Build Sustainable Infrastructures geared to a low-carbon future

Canada's infrastructure needs urgent attention if we are to reduce GHG, ensure delivery of utility services, protect our water, and clear up our clogged and dangerous highways by improving non-vehicular transport options. Therefore, the Green Party will work with provincial and territorial partners to immediately prioritize investments in infrastructure across the country.

The Green Party will:
  • Address the current infrastructure crisis in First Nations communities, with a particular focus on housing and water systems through the Kelowna Accord
  • Facilitate First Nations participation as partners in projects to create sustainable, long term economic benefits based on real consultation and accommodation.
  • Change Canada's tax policy to create a new pool of secure, long term municipal infrastructure funding by allowing municipalities to issue new Municipal Registered Retirement Savings Plans Bonds (MRRSPsBs) which can be held in RRSPs and self-directed RRSPs.
  • Allocate one cent from GST on an approximate per capita basis to municipal governments for "Green Cities" initiatives, ensuring that the funding is used to reduce sprawl and greenhouse gas emissions, conserve electricity and water, increase densification, expand public transit, and build cycling and walking paths.
  • Improve rail infrastructure and intermodal connections, increasing joint federal-municipal light rail investments, as well as improving VIA rail service nationwide. Build separate passenger rail lines where needed from coast to coast in addition to the existing freight rail line and install high speed commuter trains between Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa to reduce air travel and assist an efficient workforce. The stimulus incentive for rail will be $1 billion/year for the next three years.
  • Upgrade the electrical grid so it can accommodate green electricity production. Commit to better east-west connectivity with a Ontario-Manitoba transmission line.
  • Develop broadband throughout Canada will enable rural Canadians everywhere to prepare for jobs by using the Canadian Virtual University (CVR) so that distance education will become increasingly widespread.

3. Invest in Renewable Energy Production and Initiate a Canada Energy Efficiency Plan

The biggest challenge facing our generation is to revitalize our economy in ways that simultaneously combats climate change by reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and cutting our greenhouse gas emissions. Countries that improve their energy efficiency and reduce their demand for fossil fuels by utilizing renewable sources of energy will prosper for generations to come.

Buildings in Canada currently waste up to 50% of energy in inefficient heating and cooling.  Therefore, the Green Party will initiate a Canada Energy Efficiency Plan to coordinate efficiency measures across all provinces, territories, and municipalities, in agreement with the standards established by the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC).   

The new administration in Washington plans to invest $15 billion annually over the next decade in renewable energy production. Canada should be investing an additional $1.5 billlion to deploy renewable energy in Canada with the goal of eliminating coal and nuclear generation and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Further energy investments must be much more diverse than the traditional mega project approach and be designed to help homeowners, businesses and industry become much more energy efficient and far less polluting.

The Canada Energy Efficiency Plan will include:
  • Establishing a nation-wide program to retrofit all low-income rental housing by 2025.
  • Provide matching funds to upgrade new and renovated buildings to RAIC standards 60% higher than the 1997 Model National Energy Code as long as verification is provided.
  • Shifting electricity generation to renewable energy sources by expanding the ecoEnergy Program for Renewable Power  to cover all forms of renewable electricity production (with the exception of large scale hydro), providing greater incentives provinces that have established renewable energy standards and /or feed in tarrifs and for northern communities and creating new incentives for industrial co-generation.
  • For home owners, expanding the present home renovation program by creating a revolving fund to provide loans to pay the full costs of energy retro-fits including insulation, windows, solar hot water, geothermal and other technologies that reduce energy use, incorporate renewable or extremely low emission technologies. The loans are to be repaid based on energy savings, making them in effect no cost to the homeowner.
  • Providing homeowners with free energy audits performed by qualified auditors.
  • Creating a national solar roof program to promote the installation of installation on homes across Canada similar to the California and British Columbia programs.

4. Advance Education, Technology and Training for a New Economy    

An educated citizenry is essential for a healthy economy in the 21st century.  This is particularly important now, in a time of economic and environmental change. Our post-secondary educational institutions - universities, colleges, trade schools, etc. - are key to our long-term prosperity.
While education is primarily a provincial matter, the federal government can, through earmarked transfer payments, provide educational funding that is needed to meet the challenges we face.

The Green Party will invest in training and education for a new economy:
  • Earmark $200 million to establish additional spaces in technical schools for retraining workers in the installation of solar voltaic systems, geo-exchange home heating and cooling systems, and solar hot water systems and conducting general energy audits and performing minor energy efficiency upgrades.
  • A new national environmental service program for youth to voluntarily enroll in to receive training and provide 6 months of service in repairing environmental damage, restoring natural habitats (including, for example, salmon habitat), building park and recreation infrastructure.
  • Invest $250 million in an enhanced student summer jobs programme ($ to businesses as well as non-profit organizations who hire and train students in summer jobs)
  • Increase to $250 million on-site apprenticeship and coop skills training programs
The Green Party will also launch a comprehensive Access to Education Plan that includes:
  • Increasing funding for a needs-based Canadian National Student Loan and Bursary Program with low interest rates and reasonable repayment schedules. This loan program will replace the Millennium Scholarship Foundation.
  • Forgiving 50% of a student's federal loan when they complete a degree or certificate program.
  • Expand the availability of broadband internet services which can be used with the Canadian Virtual University (CVU) and colleges for education and job training throughout Canada.

5. Extend Canada's Social Safety Net to Help those Most in Need

  • Extend Employment Insurance benefits from 1 year to 2 years contingent on recipient entering new job skills training programme or other education programme. Provide full scholarships to those who have lost their jobs in traditional industries which have a poor chance of being revived to enrol in one of these retraining programs.
  • When unemployment levels nationally are above 6%, extend EI benefits to start the day after lay-off.
  • Establish a fund to provide emergency bridging distress loans to help people avoid foreclosure on their mortgages and enable them to restructure their mortgages.
  • Protection for pension and retirement savings

6. Lower Taxes to redress inequities                                           

A responsible federal government will ensure the Canadian economy is stimulated not only through targeted spending, but through targeted tax relief.  The Green Party believes it is important to focus not only upon how many taxes are being paid, but also upon what kind of taxes are being paid. 

It makes sense to lower taxes on things we want - income and employment - and put an end to corporate welfare and big business bailouts. 

The Green Party will:

Lower Taxes
  • Eliminate personal income taxes below the poverty line $1.9 billion
  • Reduce EI and CPP Contributions by 33% $16 billion
  • Introduce Income Splitting for Adults $5 billion
End Corporate Welfare
  • End subsidies to the Mining Sector $36 million
  • Eliminate subsidies for Fossil Fuels $1.4 billion
  • Put an end to subsidies for nuclear energy $104 million
Revenues lost through these tax cuts will be re-couped through charges placed on carbon emissions.