Canada needs a Just and Green Recovery
Wilderness Committee submission to the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology
Dear Members of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology
I am writing on behalf of the Wilderness Committee’s 60,000 supporters in Canada who want to see any federal stimulus money used to set the country on the path towards meeting its climate goals in a way that leaves nobody behind. I want to reiterate our support for the principles for a just and green recovery and provide additional input on Canada’s post-pandemic stimulus.
Government spending on transportation initiatives should include public and transit and cycling infrastructure. Rebates and incentives are often limited to electric vehicles when giving Canadians more options not to drive is more inclusive and affordable. With a surge in bicycle sales being reported across the country, now is the time to invest in making it safe and accessible to cycle in every community. While public transit ridership has declined in recent months, infrastructure like bus lanes or priority signals would reduce travel time and thus make it safer for passengers. Operational funding for transit is also needed to ensure health measures are not jeopardized by a reduction in service.
Stimulus for the buildings sector should include rental units and public housing. Building transit-oriented, zero-emissions public housing should be a top priority for any green and just recovery. Meanwhile, renters who pay their own utility bills are often left out of energy efficiency upgrades because there’s no incentive or requirement for the landlord to participate. If the government is considering direct renovation incentives, owners of multiple rental units or properties could be required to take advantage while smaller landlords could be given an incentive to do so.
Job creation should focus on sectors that are low-carbon and include opportunities to sequester carbon. Healthcare, education and eldercare are all in dire need of support especially in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. These “caring sector” jobs create little carbon pollution. Land-based industries like forestry and agriculture currently contribute substantially to climate change through unsustainable practices like old-growth logging and fertilizer overuse, not to mention polluting machinery. But targeted research and assistance linked to ending these activities and changing management practices could help transform these sectors into regenerative climate solutions.
Finally, natural systems sequester carbon pollution and must be restored or protected to fight climate change and buffer its impacts. Canada needs an army of biologists and Indigenous guardians to implement nature-based solutions and funding for conservation initiatives should be a significant priority in a just and green recovery.
Thank you for considering this feedback,
Peter McCartney, Climate Campaigner, Wilderness Committee