OTTAWA — The Harper government has clearly laid out its priorities with the latest slashing of environmental budgets. Gone is funding for climate change, air pollution, wildlife and toxic waste clean-up – instead the government is proceeding with funding corporate tax cuts, tar sands subsidies, fighter jets and new prisons. “It is clear that the priorities of the Harper government are not in line with Canadians, who consistently put environment at the top of the list,” said Green Leader Elizabeth May.
Environment Canada’s budget has been cut 20%, in particular, climate change and air pollution programs have been cut by 59%. The action plan to clean up contaminated federal sites has been cut by $19.5 million and programs to protect wildlife have been cut by $3 million. Natural Resources Canada’s budget has been cut 21%, including energy efficiency programs. Overall, the government will be spending about 14% less on environmental programs.
“Canada is confronting a triple deficit — economic, environmental and democratic — and we are not dealing with any of them,” said May. “Unless the recently announced emissions reduction initiatives and whatever is renewed in the budget are greater than the cuts, Canada’s environmental deficit will grow deeper. As a nation we can’t afford that any more than we can afford to continue to afford the economic deficit this government has put us into.”
“We urgently need a greater government commitment to rapid emissions reductions even to reach the Harper target which would still take us in the opposite direction of Kyoto a decade too late,” said Green Climate Critic Adriana Mugnatto-Hamu. “Industry investment in clean energy and retrofits requires confidence of government support over the long term. Letting funding run out and threatening not to renew it stifles progress.”
“This government does not understand or care that long-term commitments are needed to make progress on environmental issues. It’s very difficult to plan retrofits and wind farms when every year the funding runs out and you have to wait for the budget to see if there’s going to be any money,” said Mugnatto-Hamu.