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Greening the Federal Budget (Once Again in 2019!)
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Greening the Federal Budget (Once Again in 2019!)

The Green Budget Coalition (GBC) had a huge win this past February when the 2018 federal budget included $1.3 billion over five years for protected areas establishment and species at risk conservation. Congratulations to Finance Minister Morneau and Prime Minister Trudeau, who made this major investment in nature possible. GBC is back again this year with recommendations for the 2019 federal budget. The GBC team of advocates representing environment and nature groups as diverse as Greenpeace and Ducks Unlimited fanned out across Ottawa in late September to meet with Cabinet Ministers including Minister Morneau and Environment and Climate Change Minister McKenna, parliamentarians including opposition members of Parliament, the Prime Minister’s Office, the Privy Council Office, and senior civil servants from various departments and agencies. The GBC’s priority recommendations for Budget 2019 include measures to support sustainable agriculture, tackle toxics and pesticides (such as NeoNics!), phase out fossil fuel subsidies, improve management of fresh water, and conserve the biodiversity and health of Canada’s oceans.  For example, GBC recommends $117 million per year for five years to Agriculture and Agri-food Canada (AAFC) to:

  • conserve on-farm biodiversity, protect soils and water degradation, loss and pollution, and increase climate resilience;
  • accelerate development and adoption of best environmentally sustainable practices through research and development; and
  • prevent food losses and waste.
GBC recommends a further $114.5 million in 2019 (ramping up in subsequent years) to improve pesticides regulations and manage next-generation chemicals.  An important complementary GBC recommendation for Nature Canada is for $25 million per year over five years to support conservation of birds and their habitats within and beyond our borders. Details of the recommendations can be found here. You can support a greener federal budget by contacting the Prime  Minister’s Office, Finance Minister Morneau or your Member of Parliament. Representing one million Canadians through 20 member groups, the Green Budget Coalition has been greening federal budgets for 20 years working out of Nature Canada’s Ottawa offices.

Clock is Ticking: Report Card on Trudeau Government Environmental Performance
Parliament of Canada, House of Commons.
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Clock is Ticking: Report Card on Trudeau Government Environmental Performance

[caption id="attachment_36177" align="alignleft" width="150"] Stephen Hazell, Director of Conservation and General Counsel[/caption] The federal government of Justin Trudeau received an “A” for effort and a “C” for execution in mid-term grades set out in a report prepared for national environmental groups including Nature Canada. The "Clock is ticking" report gave an A to the government for the 2018 federal budget commitments to establish protected areas and recover species at risk. Nature Canada was quoted in the report to say: “Nature lovers – rejoice: Nature’s protection is taking flight and the 2018 federal budget is an amazing first step! We think that Canada’s wildlife would also applaud.” Budget 2018 included $1.3 billion over five years for protected areas and species as well as $1 billion to implement new environmental laws. At the same time, the report argued that the federal government needs to speed-up its activities for terrestrial protection to meet electoral and mandate letter promises. The report found that “species protection continues to lag” “despite the hopeful promises in early 2000 with the passage of Species at Risk Act.” Overall, the mid-term report concluded that the federal government “is making significant improvements to the environmental health of the country”. The government has “an ambitious agenda for their mandate and reversed many previous cuts to environmental laws, policies and finances.”  Many promises have been kept. Achieving Paris Agreement targets for carbon emission reductions are quickly coming out of reach; and the proposed environmental impact assessment legislation needs further work. The link to the mid-term report, Clock is Ticking: A Mid-term Report Card on the Federal Government and its Work on the Environment, can be found here, and the release, here.


For other media coverage on this report, please see the following: From CTV News: Report from environment groups pans Liberals for fossil fuels, parks management
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Budget 2018: A Billion Dollar Investment to Protect Nature in Canada
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Budget 2018: A Billion Dollar Investment to Protect Nature in Canada

[caption id="attachment_31283" align="alignleft" width="150"] Stephen Hazell, Director of Conservation and General Counsel[/caption] Nature lovers – rejoice: Nature’s protection is taking flight and the 2018 federal budget is an amazing first step! The recent $1.3 billion investment in new protected areas and in species at risk conservation is a groundbreaking initiative for the entire country, and marks the beginning of the most exciting environmental campaign in Canada over the next five years. Nature Canada congratulates Finance Minister Morneau, Prime Minister Trudeau, and Environment and Climate Change Minister McKenna on Budget 2018. We think that Canada's wildlife would also applaud. Going beyond landscapes, inland waters and oceans, Nature Canada is also pleased that the federal government will invest in protected areas to be established by provincial and Indigenous governments. Providing financial support to Indigenous governments such as the Moose Cree First Nation to protect and manage their sacred places such as the North French watershed is surely an important step toward reconciliation. Nature conservation is no longer something that is nice to have, it is something Canada needs to have. Even with this federal investment, meeting Canada's international commitment to protect 17% of our lands and waters by 2020 will be a challenge. Fortunately, Nature Canada, along with provincial and local nature groups, are poised and ready for the next steps. Nature Canada is Canada’s oldest national nature conservation charity, and is a member of the Green Budget Coalition (GBC). The GBC's recommendations for the Budget 2018 can be found here. Working with governments, local and Indigenous communities, and industry, we are ready to take full advantage of the opportunities to protect ecologically important places across the country, whether grasslands in Saskatchewan, Carolinian forests in Ontario, Acadian forests in the Maritimes, or wetlands in British Columbia or Quebec.


Why not send a letter of thanks now to key government officials and remind them of the work needed to protect 17% of our lands and waters by 2020? To read more on the Budget 2018, please see the following:
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Canada’s West Coast Wonders
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Canada’s West Coast Wonders

From the flowing streams to the old growth forests to the peak of the mighty mountains, Canada has amazing and beautiful nature to experience. One videographer, Florian Nick, travelled 5500 kilometers to explore the landscapes of British Columbia and Alberta and shared with us his experience. This video is a great reminder of how lucky we are to have these various ecosystems in Canada and how it is so important that we protect these lands for future generations. So how you can help protect our lands and waters? Join us in asking our federal government to ensure there is new funding for protected nature in the 2018 budget! If enough of us speak up, we cannot be ignored. Canada committed internationally to protecting 17% of our lands and inland waters by 2020, but we’re currently at only ten percent. Your voice today will help support our wildlife and wildlands! ALIVE | Canada 4K from Flo Nick on Vimeo.

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Parliamentarians Call for Federal Budget for Nature
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Parliamentarians Call for Federal Budget for Nature

[caption id="attachment_22697" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Stephen Hazell Stephen Hazell
Director of Conservation
and General Counsel[/caption] 116 Members of Parliament and Senators have written to the Finance Minister Bill Morneau requesting that the upcoming federal budget include a “historic investment” to protect Canada’s land, freshwater and ocean. The Parliamentarian’s letter adopts the Green Budget Coalition’s request for an initial investment of $1.4-billion over the next three years to establish new National Wildlife Areas, National Parks and provincial and Indigenous protected areas, with $470-million annually to pay for the enhancement of protected areas. The Green Budget Coalition’s detailed funding request is included in its recommendations for the 2018 federal budget the Green Budget Coalition is a group of 19 of Canada's top nature and environmental organizations that is co-chaired by Nature Canada.   The Coalition and the Parliamentarians make the case that the proposed federal investment is essential to deliver on Canada’s commitment under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity to protect at least 17% of Canada’s land and freshwater and 10% of our ocean by 2020. Right now the Prime Minister and federal finance minister are deciding what to fund in Budget 2018. With the support these Parliamentarians, I am excited to tell you that this could be the biggest single investment ever made to protect Canada's land, freshwater and ocean [button link="https://e-activist.com/page/17966/action/1" size="medium" target="_blank" icon="" style="light" color="red"]Please sign on to Nature Canada’s budget petition to make this investment happen.[/button]

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A Greenish Budget
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A Greenish Budget

[caption id="attachment_23643" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Stephen Hazell Stephen Hazell
Director of Conservation
and General Counsel[/caption] Federal finance minister Bill Morneau announced the Liberal government’s first budget on March 22. Overall, Budget 2016 is pretty good for nature. Positive announcements include: National Parks

  • $142.5 million over 5 years for new parks establishment ($42 million);
  • $83.3 million to pay for free admissions to National Parks; and
  • $16.6 million for the Learn to Camp Program.
Marine and Coastal Areas
  • $81.3 million over 5 years to establish new marine protected areas and for marine conservation activities.
Environmental Assessment
  • $16.5 million over 3 years  for participant funding in environmental assessments of projects such as Energy East; and
  • $14.5 million over 3 years  to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency for increasing its capacity with respect to consultations and compliance and enforcement.
Image of grasslandsBudget 2016 includes $2 billion for a low-carbon future fund and $518 million in climate change mitigation and adaptation infrastructure projects.  Nature Canada and other nature groups will be arguing that protection of  ecosystems such as native grasslands should be eligible for funding under these funds as inexpensive means to sequester and store carbon and build in resilience to global climate change. Nature Canada is disappointed  that  there is no new funding for Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) for
  • Species at risk,  migratory birds or grasslands conservation; or
  • Connecting Canadians to nature (Parks Canada did received funding for the Learn to Camp program)
Nature Canada and the other nature groups in the Green Budget Coalition need to work harder this year to ensure that these neglected CWS program areas are not neglected in Budget 2017. So in conclusion, overall a rating of “Greenish” for Budget 2016.
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Balanced Budgets and Environmental Stewardship Go Hand-in-Hand
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Balanced Budgets and Environmental Stewardship Go Hand-in-Hand

[separator headline="h3" title="A Balanced Federal Budget Over the Long-Term"]Annie-242Finance Minister Joe Oliver today announced that Economic Action Plan 2015 will be tabled on April 21, 2015 and reiterated the Government of Canada’s commitment to a balanced budget. The Green Budget Coalition has offered up some timely advice to make the necessary investments in protecting Canada’s environment and … … to secure balanced federal budgets over the long-term. Yes, environmental stewardship is not only compatible, but essential for sustaining Canada’s economic prosperity and ensuring balanced federal budgets in the future. The Green Budget Coalition Recommendations for Budget 2015 puts forward a pragmatic and fiscally sound approach that will generate long term cost-savings and new revenue generation opportunities for the Government of Canada. Specific examples include:

  • Implement a carbon price: Annual revenues estimated at between $18 billion to $50 billion, depending on the design;
  • Enable Canadian Exploration Expenses (CEE) only for unsuccessful exploration: Tax savings estimates of over $240 million per year;
  • Do not renew the Mineral Exploration Tax Credit (METC) for flow-through shares (mining): Tax savings estimates of $45 million over two fiscal years;
  • Integrate Disaster Mitigation Infrastructure criteria in the New Building Canada Plan; negligible costs with significant long term savings in disaster mitigation costs;
  • Provide a new Tax Credit under the Income Tax Act for home radon remediation: Cost savings from prevented lung cancer deaths of up to $17 million annually;
  • Remove absolute liability limit under the Canada Oil and Gas operations Act, Canada-Newfoundland Atlantic Accord Implementation Act; Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation Act and implement liability to third parties for railway freight accidents: Reduced future Canadian taxpayers’ liabilities by billions of dollars.
For more details on these specific measures please visit: www.greenbudget.ca In its November 2014 Update of Economic and Fiscal Projections, the Government of Canada was expected to return to balanced budgets in 2015, with a small surplus of $1.9 billion projected, growing to $13.1 billion in 2019-20. Similarly, the federal debt-to-GDP ratio (accumulated deficit) was projected to steadily continue on a downward path, putting the Government on its way to meeting its commitment to reduce the federal debt to 25 per cent of GDP by 2021. Now, whether those predictions still hold is what has had Ottawa economists buzzing over the last few months. The recent drop in oil and mineral prices along with the ensuing lowering of the Canadian dollar exposes the Canadian economy to undue financial risks. This over reliance on the oil sector for tax revenue forced the Government of Canada to delay Budget 2015 ̶ such is the impact of Canada’s dependence on oil revenues. Forecasts of global demand and resulting oil and natural gas prices vary greatly. Scenarios under more stringent climate policies project a drop in revenues of up to 60% for oil and 20% for natural gas globally. It is time for the Government of Canada to face this new reality and plan for the long-term, as others are doing already. Those deep changes to the global energy market have prompted the International Energy Agency (IEA) to dedicate its World Energy Outlook 2015 to examining the implications of a lower oil price future for markets, policies, competitiveness and investment. The IEA will also provide decision-makers with analysis of national climate pledges in the context of the recent downturn in fossil-fuel prices. Similarly, in the context of market uncertainty, the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board launched Focusing Capital on the Long Term an initiative for advancing practical actions to focus business and markets on the long term. There is unprecedented consensus in Canada on the need for fiscal and environmental pricing reform. Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission, composed of some of Canada’s most respected leaders in industry, the environment, and across the political spectrum as well as leading economists, outlines specific ecofiscal policies to offer real incentive for investment in innovative technologies so we may continue benefitting economically over the long-term from our natural wealth while providing better protection to the environment. The question is, in the face of unprecedented uncertainty in energy markets, will the federal government follow this prudent approach to planning for the long term? Canadians expect the Government of Canada to make strategic investments now to shield the Canadian economy from volatile oil prices, thus providing stability and diversity in the Government of Canada’s tax revenue base. Strategic public investments to support Canadian clean energy companies, with existing complimentary fiscal policies, can provide a sustainable and diversified revenue base for the Government of Canada, and contribute to achieving our GHG emission reduction commitments. Canada has historically engaged in successful targeted investment programs to support R&D and innovation in specific high growth sectors, with the Canadian aerospace industry being one of our success stories. Regardless of the size of the Government of Canada’s budget surplus, prudent fiscal planning requires that the Government of Canada begin to make those long-term investments to secure economic opportunities now, and for future generations, in the booming global clean energy sector. The Green Budget Coalition’s Climate and Energy recommendations support a federal climate and energy policy that is consistent with balanced budgets in the future. Our recommendations would generate significant tax-savings and provide new sources of revenues over the long-term. Let’s hope this delay in the budget cycle provided Minister Oliver with time to reflect, and to develop a long term solution in response to the current oil price crisis. Let’s hope it was worth the wait and anticipation.

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