Nature Canada

2019 Federal Budget Focuses on Electric Vehicles and Energy Efficiency 

Environmental measures in the 2019 Federal budget announced by Finance Minister Bill Morneau yesterday focused on funding ramping up electric vehicle ownership as well as increasing the energy efficiency of homes and buildings.

The 2019 Budget also highlights that the Government is exploring the potential creation of a marine conservation area in the High Arctic Basin or Tuvaijuittuq (which means “the ice never melts” in Inuktitut)—the last portion of the Arctic region expected to retain summer sea ice until at least 2050.

A senior official tells Nature Canada that the negotiations between Canada, Nunavut and Qikiqtani Inuit Association had not advanced quite far enough to be able to announce this important protected area on March 19.

This marine protected area would contribute significantly to Canada achieving its target of protecting 10 per cent of its oceans by 2020. We’re looking forward to hearing more.

In addition, renewal funding of $232 million per year for four years starting in 2020-21 was announced to clean up contaminated sites, including former industrial areas like mines.

A dedicated $150 million “Just Transition” infrastructure fund, also starting in 2020–21, is included in Budget 2019 to support priority projects and economic diversification in communities impacted by closure of coal-fired electricity-generating plants.

The Green Budget Coalition, which is co-chaired by Nature Canada, achieved a big win for nature last year with Budget 2018. That budget allocated $1.3 billion over five years for new protected areas and protection of species at risk; and that funding will continue to be rolled out.

The appointment of Joyce Murray (one of the greenest MPs in the House of Commons and a former B.C. Environment Minister) as Treasury Board President on Monday is a good sign that the promised funds will actually be spent to conserve biodiversity.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get everything we asked for. The Green Budget Coalition was hoping to see more money for protecting ocean life, managing freshwater, delivering on sustainable agriculture and tackling toxins, pesticides and plastics pollution.

For those items, we’re looking ahead to October and we hope to see wildlife and marine protection become campaign issues.

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