Unceded Algonquin Anishinaabe Territories [OTTAWA], 30 November 2020:
This afternoon, Canada’s Minister of Finance, Chrystia Freeland, delivered Supporting Canadians and Fighting COVID-19, a long-anticipated fiscal update to a nation that has been humbled by and is hurting from this exceptionally difficult COVID-19 pandemic year. There are many encouraging signals in today’s announcement – and a few areas we will watch with close scrutiny.
Today’s statement reflects the need to protect people, communities, and workers as we strive to build back better. In doing so, it affirms the calls from hundreds of civil society organizations earlier this year, including Climate Action Network Canada and many of its members and allies, for governments to support a just recovery for all.
We also applaud the Government of Canada’s commitment to position climate action at the heart of the federal plan to create a million jobs. Green job creation through post-pandemic recovery goes far beyond specific climate policies. It translates into widespread economic spending in health care, long-term and supportive care, a national early learning and child care program, ending boil water advisories on First Nations, and creating work environments favourable to women, racialized communities, and inclusive of all people.
For climate policy more specifically, today’s update includes a summary of new and existing spending that we hope will provide an important foundation for Canada’s new national climate plan that we expect in the coming weeks. Some of today’s highlights include a new homeowner grants program for home energy retrofits, new supports for EV charging stations, enhanced public transit planning, and supports for electricity interties to help coal-fired power-dependent regions clean their energy grids. Nature-based solutions, including tree planting, ecosystem restoration and agricultural investments hold long-term promise for helping to capture and sequester carbon emissions.
Canada’s work on the international stage will continue through collaboration with North American and European partners to establish a program for border carbon adjustments, while the new Sustainable Finance Action Council will launch early next year.
Finally, Supporting Canadians and Fighting COVID-19 reiterates the Government of Canada’s commitment to attaining net-zero emissions by 2050, and supporting a credible roadmap to get there. As part of a larger package, along with Bill C-12, the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act, and the pending new national climate plan, today’s fiscal update provides the backbone to guide Canada through some of the most important global transitions in generations.
As today’s update notes, renewables are already eclipsing fossils in the global energy mix, and consumer habits are moving from in-person to virtual spaces. Canada stands on the cusp of extraordinary change, where success will come through solid fiscal guidance being met with powerful civil society contributions. We are ready for it.
Membership and Domestic Policy Manager, Climate Action Network Canada