The newly minted Ontario government’s decision to withdraw from the cap-and-trade carbon pricing scheme may have put the province’s slice of a $1.4-billion green fund in jeopardy.
Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said in a statement on Wednesday that the government is currently evaluating what Premier Doug Ford‘s plans will mean for the portion of federal funds that went towards a now-axed provincial renovation rebate program, along with Ontario’s funding under the Low-Carbon Economy Leadership Fund as a whole.
The program provides funding to provinces that adopt the federal climate-change plan, which requires a price be put on carbon emissions.
“By cancelling Ontario’s cap-and-trade plan, the Ontario government is making it clear that it is not taking climate action, and is effectively withdrawing from Canada’s national climate-change plan without a plan of their own,” McKenna stated.
Ontario was slated to receive nearly $420 million towards fulfilling greenhouse-gas emissions-reduction targets. This spring, as part of that commitment, the federal government announced up to $100 million for GreenON, which provides rebates for residential and commercial energy-efficiency retrofits.
No funds have been delivered to Ontario so far under the program, a spokesperson for the minister said.
Ford’s government, which was elected to a 76-seat majority last month, has announced the program is being discontinued.
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Premier Ford campaigned on a plan to withdraw from the cap-and-trade market with Quebec and California as part of his promise to lower the price of gasoline by 10 cents per litre.
The cap-and-trade plan, implemented by the Liberals last year to tackle climate change, limits the amount of pollution companies in certain industries can emit, but allows them to purchase more from the government or other companies.
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Cap-and-trade auctions in Ontario have generated close to $3 billion already, some of which went towards funding programs such as GreenON.
Ford has called cap and trade a government “cash grab” that does nothing for the environment and makes fuel and other products more expensive for consumers.
In his election platform, Ford also vowed to fight a federal carbon tax, earmarking $30 million to do so.
— With files from Amanda Connolly and The Canadian Press