On April 21, the Government of Canada unveiled its 2015 budget. Despite being over 500 pages long, it comes up short on protecting the people and places we love.
We took some time to go through the budget and pick out some announcements (and omissions) worth sharing.
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The first thing we noticed missing was any reference to climate change, the most critical challenge facing our country, planet and future.
Even a modest $300 million promised last November for the Green Climate Fund — designed to help developing countries tackle climate change — was nowhere to be found. As the world mobilizes to build a cleaner future, Canada is at risk of being left behind in the new green economy and alienating partners around the world.
Closer to home, there is some good news. One of best ways we can tackle the climate crisis is to invest in public transit, and this budget includes new federal funding for transit. The bad news is that funding doesn't kick in until 2017. Once it does, the initial amount of $250 million in 2017-18 and $500 million in 2018-19 is simply insufficient to meet the needs of Canada's growing urban centres.
A national strategy is critical to long-term planning, and Canada remains the only OECD country without a national transit strategy.
Other spending promises in Budget 2015 worth noting include:
- Continuation of the Chemicals Management Plan to complete assessment of 1,300 chemicals of concern;
- Continued funding for implementation of the Species at Risk Act;
- Continuation of the Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan for assessment and cleanup of polluted federal land;
- Funding for the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency to consult with Canadians on proposed projects, and renewed funding for three important programs.
Unfortunately, the list of environmental priorities not funded in Budget 2015 is longer. Most of the recommendations we promoted through the Green Budget Coalition were ignored, including needed investments in climate change mitigation and adaptation, clean energy, air quality, nature conservation, marine protection and an environmental health equity agenda.
Given the growing international pressure to take action on the climate and the tens of thousands of people who demanded just that last weekend in Quebec City, Canadians were hoping for a budget that would really make a difference. Instead, we got a budget that's clearly out of touch with Canadian values and the 98 per cent of us who believe nature is essential to our survival.
As we head into an election year, the David Suzuki Foundation will do everything we can to put the issues of sustainability, climate and the environment in front of our leaders and push for greater commitments and stronger action. But we need your help. Please consider joining us and becoming a monthly donor.
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