Ford Government’s 2019 Budget is “the most anti-environmental budget in Ontario” since Walkerton Drinking-Water Disaster

“The gutting of Ontario’s climate action plan in combination with the taxpayer-financed partisan campaign against federal climate action expose a government that is deeply in denial on the urgency of the climate crisis.” – Keith Stewart, Senior Energy Strategist with Greenpeace Canada

A News Release from the environmtal group Greenpeace Canada

Posted April 15th, 2019 on Niagara At Large

TORONTO Keith Stewart, Senior Energy Strategist with Greenpeace Canada, said the following in response to the 2019 Ontario budget:

“The 35 per cent cut to the Ministry of Environment and promised attacks on environmental protections make this the most anti-environmental budget in Ontario since the deadly tainted-water disaster in Walkerton (that killed six people and made more than 2,000 people sick in May of 2000). The gutting of Ontario’s climate action plan in combination with the taxpayer-financed partisan campaign against federal climate action expose a government that is deeply in denial on the urgency of the climate crisis.”

Some of the budget highlights:

  • The total budget for Ontario’s Ministry of Environment is being cut by 35 per cent (17 per cent if you exclude the cancellation of cap-and-trade-funded programs).
  • The budget document promises to weaken environmental protections in the provincial Environmental Assessment, Species at Risk and Far North Acts, as well as other unspecified changes to environmental protections, under the rhetoric of cutting ‘red tape’.
  • The Harris government took this same approach of cutting budgets and framing environmental protection as red tape in the late 1990s, contributing to the chain of events that to the Walkerton disaster.
  • The Ford government’s greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction target is only one-third of the previous climate plan’s target. To achieve this weaker goal, the Ford government is relying on programs (such as support for electric vehicles) that the province no longer funds.
  • The Ford government is not providing a revenue estimate for its own carbon price on industrial polluters (the industrial emitters emissions performance standard on page 156 of the budget document), on the grounds that the program isn’t finalized yet, but it is willing to provide a GHG reduction estimate for this program in its climate plan.

Further to the Greenpeace reponse to Ford’s budget and the environmental protection slashing in it, here is an excerpt from an article on the budget posted this past April 11th in Canada’s National Observer –

The Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks is losing the most money, nearly $278 million, which will put its budget at $631 million. Other big cuts are coming to Municipal Affairs and Housing; Government and Consumer Services; and Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

All-in, Ford is slashing more than $2.59 billion from the province’s spending affecting ministries that Horvath says will impact Ontario’s most marginalized communities.

“It’s a terrible budget for the people of Ontario because what it shows is that this government is prepared to slash-and-burn and prepare to not be really clear with Ontarians about what they’re doing,” (Ontario Opposition Party and NDP Leader Andrea) Horvath said.

The budget outlines the province’s plan to reduce emissions, waste and litter, as well as improve municipal wastewater systems and increase conservation for at-risk species and the Great Lakes, all while cutting the Ministry of Environment’s operating costs by nearly a third.

To read the entire National Observer story on the Ford government’s budget, click on – https://www.nationalobserver.com/2019/04/11/news/numbers-you-can-trust-ontarios-finance-minister-says-first-budget .

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“A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders

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