Ontario NDP launches Green New Deal: a ‘bold new vision’

TORONTO – Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath released ‘Climate. Jobs. Justice. A Green New Democratic Deal’ on March 6. “It’s a bold vision,” said Mike Mantha, MPP for Algoma-Manitoulin. The strategy pledges to make Ontario net zero by 2050 while “bringing in new jobs, new opportunities, respecting the environment and making decisions that will promote new technologies, create more investments and better prepare us for the future. These are the things that people have been asking for from their representatives,” he said. Ontarians will head to the polls June 2, 2022.

“The climate crisis is the greatest threat our world faces, but it’s also an incredible opportunity,” Ms. Horwath said in a statement. “It’s an opportunity not only to go green but to shift to a more sustainable job-rich and just economy. We’re already paying a price for the climate crisis, and the price our children and grandchildren could pay is unthinkable. No family should have to evacuate again and again because floodwaters keep rising. No one should worry that the outside isn’t safe enough for kids to go out to play. No one should worry about the next generation because of our planet’s uncertain future. With the NDP’s plan, there’s hope.”

The climate plan includes the creation of 100,000 permanent jobs from an ambitious building retrofit program and a mandate for all new buildings to be net zero emissions by 2030. It also includes a zero emissions vehicle (ZEV) strategy that supports the auto sector as it transitions from manufacturing internal combustion engine cars to ZEVs and has a target of 100 percent ZEV sales by 2035. In addition, the NDP would offer incentives for purchasing ZEVs and would provide $600 to households to install electric vehicle charging stations at home and requiring new homes to have the capacity to charge ZEVs.

“In order to participate in a greener economy, we need to make sure we have the infrastructure not only in our communities and in the region, but right in our homes,” Mr. Mantha said.

Transportation is one of the largest causes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across the province and ineffective inter- and intra-regional transit systems can be a barrier to movement and economic opportunity and so the NDP pledge better public transit infrastructure across the province as well as the implementation of a Northern Rail Strategy that will include restoration of Ontario Northlander passenger rail service and support for the Huron Central and Algoma Central rail lines. “If Northern Ontario is going to be part of the growing economy, we need to make sure we have the ability of getting to and from our various regions and part of that is growing or bringing back transportation to Northern Ontario,” said Mr. Mantha, adding that fewer vehicles means less GHG emissions and reduced road upkeep.

“We need the same level of support in Northern Ontario from our government that we see in southern Ontario,” he added. “We know we need to pay our fair share of transportation costs but we need subsidies from this government in order to have effective and sustaining bus routes or transportation networks. Subsidies are being provided to southern Ontario and the same type of subsidies should be provided to Northern Ontario so that we can survive as well.”

Highlights of the plan include the return of a cap and trade program, investment in clean technologies, manufacturing and skills training, the restoration of an independent environment commissioner, establishment of Ontario’s first youth climate corps and planting one billion trees by 2030. It also offers increased protection of Ontario parks, an expanded Greenbelt and more access to public green spaces and the development of provincial food and water strategies. 

In order to reduce emissions from electricity to 2017 levels achieve zero emissions by 2030, the NDP would expand hydro capacity, increase intermittent renewables including wind and solar power, create more grid scale storage, increase rooftop solar capacity on buildings and better enable electricity imports by increasing major grid interconnection with Quebec and Manitoba, Ms. Horwath stated. While the plan commits to exploring all options to ensuring affordable electricity, it recognizes that conservation is the least expensive resource. The NDP also won’t expand Ontario’s nuclear capacity unless cost and waste storage issues are resolved.

The plan “envisions policies that respect Indigenous knowledge and traditional ecological knowledge combined with emerging science,” she said. “In order for any climate plan to be successful, it must include Indigenous peoples as full partners from day one.”

Funding the ambitious plan initiatives would require an investment of $40 billion on top of the existing $31 billion budget. These would come primarily from carbon pricing with a plan that would exceed federal emissions reductions targets and generate an estimated $30 billion between 2022 and 2026, with an additional $10 billion raised in the existing green bonds program. 

“This plan will mean more opportunities for people to enjoy the bounty of what we have to offer here in Northern Ontario,” Mr. Mantha said.