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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.

A Little Less Canada in 2018?
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A Little Less Canada in 2018?

[caption id="attachment_22697" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Stephen Hazell Stephen Hazell
Director of Conservation
and General Counsel[/caption] Nature Canada’s Stephen Hazell asks whether the world actually needs a little less Canada in an op-ed published in Ottawa’s The Hill Times on January 17. Considering the harm to nature that Canadians cause, Hazell argues that if the world’s other species could vote on which humans should be voted off Turtle Island, "Canadians would be near the top of their list." By way of examples, he observes that Canada protects less of its land and ocean than any other developed country. Canada produces more GHGs per capita than other OECD countries aside from the U.S. and Australia, and more garbage per capita than any other country. Quick starts for the federal government to shift Canada to a more sustainable course in our 151st year? Hazell argues that a federal investment in protecting land and ocean for nature in Budget 2018 as proposed by the Green Budget Coalition is important. As well, enacting strong, innovative environmental laws this session would move Canada towards environmental, economic and social sustainability. Hazell’s hope for 2018?  Less destruction of Canadian nature, fewer Canadian GHG emissions, and less Canadian garbage. Get that done, and perhaps Canadians can more honestly say at year-end: “The world needs more Canada.

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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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2016: Year of Action on Nature Conservation 
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2016: Year of Action on Nature Conservation 

[caption id="attachment_16447" align="alignleft" width="150"]Stephen Hazell Stephen Hazell
Director of Conservation
and General Counsel[/caption] So far, so good for nature conservation in 2016—thanks to Nature Canada’s members! Wilderness and Wildlife Protection - Three months in office, and the new Liberal government is making pretty good progress taking action to conserve nature. Environment Minister Catherine McKenna has signalled that she wants to move quickly to amend the Rouge National Urban Park legislation to protect the ecological integrity of the park and expand the park to include key provincial lands.  Nature Canada is also on the verge of convincing the Liberal government to reverse the previous government’s bad decisions on prairie grasslands that provide important habitat for dozens of species at risk. Stay tuned for details. The Green Budget Coalition (which includes Nature Canada) has had a series of excellent meetings with the Prime Minister's Office, the Department of Finance and Environment Canada to make the 2016 federal budget as green as it can be. The Coalition is recommending additional funding to protect species at risk, conserve threatened grasslands, increase the number and size of protected areas such as National Wildlife Areas, and connect Canadians to nature. Image of a winter landscapeStrengthening Environmental Laws - Nature Canada is satisfied with the consultations with federal officials to restore and strengthen environmental laws. The government' interim principles to improve hearings for pipelines are a step in the right direction, and the right of cross-examination will almost certainly be reinstated for the Energy East hearings. We are confident that the public review of environmental assessment will be carried out either by an independent panel or the House of Commons Environment Committee.  With a public review, it makes it more likely that the government will introduce some constructive changes to environmental assessment laws. Saving Songbirds- The official launch of Nature Canada's program to keep cats safe and save birds from cat predation is set for late February. Growing NatureHood -  And our NatureHood program continues to grow in cities and communities across Canada. A NatureBlitz will be hosted in Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary and Alaksen National Wildlife Area on February 27th for youth and all young at heart to explore this wonderful site. What a great start to 2016—thanks to all our members for your tremendous membership support which helps to defend wildlife and wilderness!! [button link="https://netdonor.net/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=1909&ea.campaign.id=47834" size="large" target="_self" icon="" color="blue" lightbox="false"]If you have not yet renewed your membership, please donate today by clicking here![/button]

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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