“Eliminating (Ontario’s) 50 million trees program weakens the province’s ability to fight climate change and absorb the impact of extreme weather events. This move is yet another signal that the Ford government is getting out of the business of land stewardship, something past PC governments supported.” – Ontario Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner
A Statement from the Green Party of Ontario with a Brief Foreword by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper
Posted April 26th, 2019 on Niagara At Large
A Commentary by Doug Draper
Earth Day 2019 may have come and gone, but the slash and burn job Ontario Premier Doug Ford and the MPPs in his so-called “Government for the People” is doing to environmental protection policies and programs continues.
This time, the target of what the eyes of non-partisan people who care about the environment can only view as an all-out war on environmental protection programs in Ontario by the government that now runs the province is a program that costs an annual $4.7 million to plant trees that help prevent erosion and help purify our water and our air, including absorb some of the carbon from the atmosphere that contributes to climate change.
It should come as no surprise that the Ford government would not value the carbon-absorbing benefits of trees given a costly propaganda and court battle it is already waging against what it calls a “carbon tax.”
This “carbon tax” is a price that the federal government is placing on man-made carbon emissions from the burning of gasoline and other sources as a way of discouraging the use of carbon-based fuels in favour of green alternatives, and ultimately reducing what has already become a dangerous load of climate-altering carbon in the earth’s atmosphere.
In one of the very last reports Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner Dianne Saxe released last year before the Ford government shut her office down, the report, titled “Climate Action in Ontario: What’s Next?,” states, in part; “Woodlands and trees are indispensable for climate change adaption. In urban areas, they are ‘green infrastructure’ that provides us with essential services: they filter air pollution, retain and filter stormwater, and mitigate the increasingly extreme heat island effect. “
“Forests within and outside our urban centres,” continues the report, “also provide all of these services while enhancing soil biodiversity, providing habitat for pollinators, helping prevent erosion, and mitigating drought. They cushion the effects of warming temperatures and changing precipitation patterns by retaining moisture, filtering increased stormwater, cooling the area around them and providing refuge for species stressed by the rapidly changing conditions.”
Apparently these benefits and others, which mostly likely would save hundreds of millions of dollars a year in environmental-related damage, are not worth $4.7 million a year to the current government in Ontario.
So why not de-fund a tree-planting program that is also a source of jobs for people in the forestry industry.
Now here is a news release and statement on the gutting of this program from Ontario’s Green Party Leader, Mike Schriener –
“It’s clear that the Premier does not believe that the new licence plate slogan “a place to grow” applies to trees and forests. For them, Ontario is no longer a place to grow, but instead a place to get axed.
The Ford government seems determined to axe every environmental program. This represents a new low for a Premier who says we can fight climate change without making polluters pay, and then axes other programs that could help meet our climate obligations.
I am calling on sitting MPPs like Lisa Thompson, Toby Barrett, Ted Arnott, Bill Walker, Norm Miller and Randy Pettapiece to stand up for tree planting as they did publically in opposition.
Eliminating the 50 million trees program weakens Ontario’s ability to fight climate change and absorb the impact of extreme weather events. This move is yet another signal that the Ford government is getting out of the business of land stewardship, something past PC governments supported.
The trees planted by this program offset emissions equivalent to taking 1.1 million cars off the road for an entire year, in addition to delivering $82 million annually in environmental benefits from flood prevention to pollination.
These short-sighted cuts also disregard the 310 full time jobs provided by this program.
It is reckless and short-sighted for this government to ignore the free services that nature provides, even as flood waters rage in Bracebridge and threaten parts of Muskoka.
For a government that calls itself fiscally responsible, it sure seems willing to throw out the jobs, work, and savings of good environmental programs.”
Finally, here is a Canadian Press story on the gutting of this program –
Allison Jones, The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, April 25
TORONTO — Ontario is cancelling a tree planting program, with those involved warning the move will lead to the loss of jobs and environmental benefits that forests provide.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry told Forests Ontario the day after the Progressive Conservative government delivered its budget this month that the 50 Million Tree Program was being eliminated.
Rob Keen, CEO of Forests Ontario, said since 2008 more than 27 million trees have been planted across Ontario through the program, which saved landowners up to 90 per cent of the costs of large-scale tree planting.
It was started as a carbon sequestration program, Keen said, but planting that many trees also helps clean the air and water, protect shorelines and reduce erosion.
About 40 per cent forest cover is needed to ensure forest sustainability, Keen said, and the average right now in southern Ontario is 26 per cent, with some areas as low as five per cent.
The program’s annual budget was about $4.7 million, Keen said, and Forests Ontario was told it was being cancelled as a way to cut provincial costs.
To read the entire Canadian Press story, click on – https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/ontario-cancels-program-that-aimed-to-plant-50-million-trees-1.4394233
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