The David Suzuki Foundation welcomed today's federal budget as the first in almost a decade that seriously commits funding to climate change and clean energy, habitat conservation and a healthy environment.
After nearly a decade of federal budgets that pitted the environment against the economy, it is refreshing to see a budget that acknowledges a prosperous Canada depends on healthy ecosystems and a transition to a clean economy. At the same time, we're concerned that the level of investment doesn't match the urgency of the environmental challenges Canada faces.
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Leadership on clean energy and climate change
Although total investment in public transit infrastructure is not what we hoped it would be, the commitment to fund up to 50 per cent of project costs shows federal leadership. The David Suzuki Foundation believes the best way to build healthy and sustainable communities is through more robust investment in public transit infrastructure.
- $3.4 billion for public transit over three years, starting in 2016-17.
- $62.5 million over two years to support the deployment of infrastructure for alternative transportation fuels
Conserving and protecting critical habitat
Though this budget moves us in the right direction in ocean science and conservation, it fails to provide adequate funding to meet targets based on Green Budget Coalition recommendations.
- $81.3 million over five years to support marine conservation activities and $197.1 million over five years to increase ocean and freshwater science, monitoring and research activities.
The budget didn't contain all of the funding for the environment that we recommended through the Green Budget Coalition. The lack of an announcement on carbon pricing and the missed opportunity to phase out fossil fuel subsidies leave a lot of questions unanswered.
We were, however, encouraged to see some funding allocated to climate change adaptation, transit and ocean conservation. Also promising is that the government reversed cuts to scientific research and monitoring, reinstated the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station and restored funding for the Experimental Lakes Area water research facility.
We are also happy to see the prime minister follow through with his election promise to ensure Indigenous communities have clean, safe drinking water. All Canadians should have access to clean drinking water, and it was unconscionable that so many communities in Canada faced long-term boil-water advisories.