Ontario Budget 2016

Last week, Premier Wynn prorogued the provincial legislative assembly. This ended the session and effectively “killed” all bills that were on the table. She wiped the slate clean. So all bills that were in progress will need to be re-introduced in this next session (if they are to become law).

On Monday, Wynne hit the “go button” with the launch of the Ontario Budget. You can find a link to the budget here.

I do not have a lot to say about it in terms of environmental policy relevance. The big announcement was a 8% tax CUT on electricity for residents. See the Globe and Mail article for more details. That isn’t really environmental. In fact, it might make things worse because people might use MORE electricity as it will become cheaper to do so. Um. So why is Wynne doing that? Cynical answer: re-election. Less cynical answer: people are angry and she is responding. The feed-in-tariff system in Ontario means that residents overpay for alternative energy – thus, incentivizing people to produce wind and solar energy. However, residents to do not like paying so much electricity… in fact, it made a lot of people really angry. So the government is going to cut the cost.

On the more environmental side, there are big promises around public transportation – especially in the ever-growing GTA. But like other green promises in the budget, it is all tied to “business” and “growth.” The main theme is really sustainable DEVELOPMENT. Wynne wants to grow – the economy. And suggests this can be done in a “green” way. A lot of the green promises involve “investments” as opposed to “protections” or “regulations.”

In fact, there is little spending on strictly environmental issues – like endangered species, parks, bodies of water, and air quality. The only mention of water is regarding public health (safety) and not environmental health.

This budget leaves a lot to be desired for the average environmentalist. Right now, almost 50% of the budget is spent on health care. There is a connection there, no?

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