Greens ask government to invest in people and the planet

OTTAWA – Unprecedented times call for extraordinary budget measures, members of the federal Green Party caucus said today. Parliamentary leader Elizabeth May (MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands) and Green MPs Jenica Atwin (Fredericton) and Paul Manly (Nanaimo-Ladysmith) were unveiling their recommendations for this year’s budget at a press conference in Ottawa today.

"In the Green submission to Finance Minister Bill Morneau, we drew heavily on the growing global consensus that all spending decisions must be viewed through the lens of the climate crisis,” said Ms. May. “As Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, warned recently, 'The concern is whether we will spend another decade doing worthy things, but not enough..and we will blow through the 1.5 degree C mark very quickly.'  This is why Canada's budget needs to make the transition away from fossil fuels the foundation of our fiscal planning."

Economic activity in the oil patch and related sectors is expected to slow as the government moves to meet its commitments to net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Greens urge the federal government to focus on the economic opportunities that come with the shift to the Green economy and to ensure that there is a “just transition” for fossil fuel workers. Funds should be shifted away from subsidies for exploration, development, production and transport in the fossil fuel sector, towards the labour component of remediation costs. Four years ago these costs were estimated at $260 billion in Alberta alone.

“Our government needs to recognize that investing in people and protecting the environment is the right move for Canada,” said Jenica Atwin. “Empowering municipalities in their fight against the climate crisis by increasing the Gas Tax Fund’s annual escalator from two to 3.5 per cent will have significant environmental, social and economic benefits for communities.”

“Lack of affordable housing and homelessness are at crisis levels in Canadian communities from coast to coast to coast,” said Paul Manly. “The city of Ottawa recently declared a housing and homelessness emergency. My riding of Nanaimo-Ladysmith has one of the highest rates of homelessness per capita in the country. Our communities need emergency funds now to cope with this crisis while new affordable housing units are being built.”

Greens acknowledge that the National Housing Strategy was a good first step to address the housing crisis, but stress that the government needs to provide financing to non-profit housing organizations and cooperatives to build and restore quality, energy efficient housing. Incentives should also be provided for landlords to repair and retrofit lower-cost market rental units to make them more energy efficient.

“Healthcare infrastructure should be eligible for the Building Canada Fund and the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation fund,” noted Paul Manly. “A recent study found that half of Canada’s hospitals are more than 50 years old, and we have a $15 billion dollar maintenance deficit on this critical infrastructure. This problem is an opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the public sector by investing in energy efficient upgrades.”

The Green Party is also calling on the government to increase funding to the CBC so that it can stop broadcasting advertising. Greens are also urging the government to impose a digital sales tax on content streaming services such as Netflix and require them to meet Canadian content standards. “The media landscape has changed and it is time for the companies that benefit from Canadian customers to contribute to creating Canadian content,” says Jo-Ann Roberts Interim Leader of the GPC and a former broadcaster.

*** Budget submission attached

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