FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, April 20, 2021
KIJIPUKTUK (HALIFAX) – Yesterday, the 2021 federal budget tabled historic investments in the clean economy, protecting natural spaces and climate adaptation in Canada. The Ecology Action Centre is encouraged to see investments that prioritize collective wellbeing while supporting the fight against climate change and biodiversity loss, but many questions still remain about how the Canadian government plans to fulfill current and new promises on the environment.
“This is undoubtedly one of the most important budgets ever created. We don’t have time to wait until the pandemic is behind us before we turn our attention to tackling the climate, biodiversity and equity crises,” says Kelsey Lane, Senior Climate Policy Coordinator with the EAC. “This budget has many great aspects, but we have to stay vigilant to ensure government is taking the actions necessary to put Canada on a path toward an equitable, sustainable future.”
“In order for Canada to achieve a just and green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, we must prioritize wellbeing and create healthy, resilient communities,” says Noreen Mabiza, Energy Coordinator, Sustainable Communities with the EAC. “And so the attention given to increasing minimum wage, transitioning workers and providing opportunities for people to build careers in the ever-growing green economy is equally important to the investment we are seeing in the areas of climate and biodiversity.”
While the budget does have positive elements to it, it does also raise several concerns – some specific to the Atlantic provinces. $319 million is earmarked for carbon capture, utilization and storage, an expensive and largely unproven technology that could delay our transition off of fossil fuel. There is also a lack of clarity around the $54.8 million over two years given to Natural Resources Canada for the forest-based bioeconomy, and whether this will open the door to the continued destruction of forests for large-scale biomass energy production.
While the budget contained a strong commitment and spending related to ocean conservation, funding for the preservation of wild salmon populations and ‘updated approaches’ to aquaculture went exclusively to the west coast.
“The government continues to support the transition away from open net pen salmon farming and the protection of salmon on the Pacific coast, but we are extremely concerned that no allocations have been made for Atlantic Canada where the same threats exist to wild salmon populations and our marine ecosystems from this polluting industry,” says Shannon Arnold, Senior Marine Program Coordinator with the EAC.
"Overall, we are happy with a lot of what this budget has to offer, but Canadians need more clarity on a number of concerning aspects,” says Lane. “In addition to this clarification, we eagerly await an updated climate target that is set to be announced in the coming days, which needs to double our current ambition in order for Canada to do its fair share. These details will determine whether government is hiding the status quo under fancy headlines or if we are truly investing in the transformative change needed for our communities and environment to prosper.”
The EAC is particularly pleased with the following investments:
- $2.3 billion over five years to protect one million square kilometers of terrestrial and freshwater land. This includes support for Indigenous Guardians programs and Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas.
- $4.4 billion over five years to provide interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to support deep home retrofits to improve efficiency and reduce home energy costs.
- $977 million over 5 years to help Canada meet its target of protecting 25% of its oceans by 2025.
- $1.4 billion over 12 years, starting in 2021-22, to top up the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund, to support projects such as wildfire mitigation activities, rehabilitation of storm water systems, and restoration of wetlands and shorelines.
- Investments that support workers through the pandemic, and workers programs to support a job transition.
The EAC is concerned with the following aspects of the budget:
- $319 million invested in carbon capture, utilization and storage.
- Atlantic Canada excluded from the investment of $650 million over 5 years to preserve wild salmon populations and $20 million to update approaches to aquaculture.
- It is unclear whether there is adequate funding in the budget to help rebuild depleted fish stocks.
- Lack of clarity around the $54.8 million over two years given to Natural Resources Canada for the forest-based bioeconomy, and whether this will open the door to the continued destruction of forests for large-scale biomass energy production.
For more information, please contact:
Senior Climate Policy Coordinator
Ecology Action Centre
Senior Marine Project Coordinator
Ecology Action Centre
Ecology Action Centre