Posted by Erica Stahl, CELA Counsel on April 12, 2016
Ontario is running out of time to make sure the cap and trade program proposed in Bill 172 reduces GHG emissions and doesn’t push more Ontarians into poverty in the process.
CELA has been closely following Bill 172’s progress through the standing committee, and we were pleased that yesterday the Bill was amended to require the Climate Change Action Plan to consider impacts on low-income households and include actions to assist those households. This is an important improvement to the Bill.
But, it doesn’t go nearly far enough. There is nothing in Bill 172 so far that requires cap and trade money to be used to fund programs for low-income communities. The environmental justice piece of the cap and trade program is still missing. We want to make sure that low-income communities are not being left behind as we move towards finalizing the cap and trade system.
Ontario’s failure to address the regressive effects of its cap and trade program makes us an outlier among our future WCI partners. California and Québec both address the needs of low-income and vulnerable communities in their cap and trade policies. California’s approach is the most progressive: it requires 25% of cap and trade auction revenues to be set aside for measures aimed at low-income communities.
We urge the government to adopt the successful California model and pass NDP motion 42 to amend section 68. This amendment would allow the Ministry to identify communities that are disproportionately burdened by the transition to a low-carbon economy, and would set aside at least 25% of the money in the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Account for those communities.
Ontario should not fall behind its future WCI partner by failing to ensure that money is set aside from the cap and trade program for low-income communities. A recent report called “Protecting the Most Vulnerable” about California’s approach explains how successful this model has been to protect low-income people.
Low-income communities will fall through the cracks within the current framework. The amendments made in standing committee are our chance to make sure they don’t get left behind.