LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF ONTARIO
ASSEMBLÉE LÉGISLATIVE DE L’ONTARIO
Thursday 28 October 2021 Jeudi 28 octobre 2021
Private Members’ Public Business
Carbon Budget Accountability Act, 2021 / Loi de 2021 sur la responsabilité en matière de budget carbone
Report continued from volume A.
Private Members’ Public Business
Carbon Budget Accountability Act, 2021 / Loi de 2021 sur la responsabilité en matière de budget carbone
Mr. Schreiner moved second reading of the following bill:
Bill 32, An Act with respect to a carbon budget for Ontario / Projet de loi 32, Loi préconisant un budget carbone pour l’Ontario.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Jennifer K. French): Pursuant to standing order 101, the member has 12 minutes for his presentation.
Mr. Mike Schreiner: It’s an honour to rise today to debate my private member’s bill, the Carbon Budget Accountability Act.
Speaker, we are in a climate emergency. All the reports from scientific experts are very clear: We must immediately and drastically reduce climate pollution to avoid climate catastrophe. Debate on this bill could not have come at a more pivotal moment, as world leaders and ministers, including the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, head to Glasgow to take part in pivotal climate negotiations at COP26. These critical conversations could right the ship and set us on a path to a stable climate or they could break down and set us up for a climate catastrophe.
So now, at this moment, it is time for Ontario to lead. As the largest province in Canada, it is time for Ontario to play its historic role in Confederation to lead on the biggest challenge we face post-pandemic, and climate change is the biggest challenge our generation faces. It threatens our health, economy, food security, homes, infrastructure and so much more. Heat waves are getting deadlier, droughts are getting longer, wildfires are getting more intense, and floods are becoming more frequent and severe.
It’s costing us dollars. The tornado that hit Barrie this summer cost $75 million in damages. Three hours of rain in Toronto in 2018 cost $80 million. In fact, in 2020 alone, climate-fuelled extreme weather events caused $2.4 billion worth of damage in Canada alone.
And it’s costing us in our health. Six First Nations communities were evacuated this summer due to forest fires. Poor air quality threatened the health of people across the province, especially elders, children and people with respiratory illnesses.
Mr. Speaker, my heart goes out to the people who lost loved ones during the extreme heat wave that hit this summer and those who have lost loved ones in other climate-fuelled disasters.
For decades, scientists have warned us about the negative consequences of increasing GHG emissions, but some have denied, delayed and even mocked the science. But we can’t negotiate with physics. We can’t deny the increasing disasters that are literally happening before our very eyes. And this is happening at a 1.1-degree-Celsius temperature increase. I can’t imagine what the world will look like at a two-degree-Celsius global temperature increase or a four-degree increase, which is the path we are on.
Speaker, I have two daughters. My niece had her first child during COVID-19. I stay up late at night thinking about their lives, knowing that the worst of the climate catastrophe will hit when they’re in the prime of their lives. So we have to do better. We have to do better for our children. We owe it to ourselves, our children, our grandchildren, our nieces and nephews. We owe it to the people of Ontario. We must act now.
The fact is that climate pollution is going up, not down, in Ontario.
I want to be very frank right now. This is the point in the speech where I thought I’d unleash a partisan attack on the policies that are happening to make climate pollution go up, but I decided not to do that today, because that’s not what Bill 32 is about. Bill 32 is about whether we are actually going to try to follow the science. This bill just simply lays out what Ontario’s fair share of reducing climate pollution is so that we have a chance, just a chance, to keep the global temperature increase at 1.5 degrees Celsius. It doesn’t tell government how to do it. It’s not a prescription for how to do it. Believe me, Speaker, I know there are lots of disagreements on how to do it, but I would hope that we would at least agree that we will try to do it.
This morning, the Ontario Greens released a climate plan that I’m sure is going to generate a lot of heated debate over the days and months to come, and I look forward to having that debate. But today, the debate on Bill 32 is about whether Ontario tries. We owe it to people that we will try, and because Ontarians have never backed down from big challenges—we don’t back down from big challenges. As a matter of fact, during COVID-19, we closed our shops, we rolled up our sleeves and we came together to fight COVID-19. As a matter of fact, in the early days of the pandemic, we worked across party lines in this House to pass bills quickly through unanimous consent to help business and people.
So in the spirit of working together, in the spirit of succeeding together in a non-partisan way, I want to acknowledge that the member from Toronto–Danforth was the first member in this Legislature to introduce legislation, in 2016, to establish a carbon budget for the province of Ontario. It utilized different methodology because it predates the IPCC model that I’m using in this bill.
I also want to acknowledge that the accountability mechanism in this bill comes from the member from Nipissing. When that member was the Minister of Finance, he brought in changes to the Fiscal Sustainability, Transparency and Accountability Act as part of the 2019 budget that outlines the accountability mechanisms in this bill.
We are stronger when we succeed together, and that’s why Bill 32 builds on ideas from both the official opposition and from the government.
I think we can all agree that it is vital for a government to produce a fiscal budget each and every year because the public deserves to know the numbers. Now it is time for Ontario to present a carbon budget every year because people deserve to know the numbers, the truth about where we stand when it comes to climate pollution and where we need to go. The time of setting targets that are 20 or 30 years down the road are over. That is why countries like the UK and France and others are bringing forward carbon budget laws.
So let’s dive in quickly to talk about what this bill does. The IPCC says that to maintain a stable climate, the total amount of climate pollution that can be released now and onward can be no more than 10 times current annual emissions. For Ontario, this is 1,630 megatonnes. If passed, my bill would establish a fair carbon budget for Ontario that limits the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions that Ontario can emit at 1,630 megatonnes from today onward into the future.
To ensure that Ontario stays on track to meet our climate obligations and to hold this government and future governments accountable, each year the Minister of the Environment must table a report to the House no later than March 31 that outlines Ontario’s annual emissions in relation to the legal limits under the applicable carbon budget and the policies that the government will implement in forthcoming budgets. If the government does not issue a report before the assembly before the deadline, much like if they don’t with the fiscal budget, the minister and the Premier will face a financial penalty of 10% of their salary.
In addition to the overall carbon budget, and to ensure that the province is staying on track, additional carbon budgets will be required to be met in certain years until 2045. From 2045 onward, Ontario will be required to be net zero emissions.
In order to meet our net zero target, annual emissions must decline by around 7.5%, give or take, each year, so that starting in 2030, average annual emissions will not exceed approximately 84 megatonnes, which is half of what they are today.
In order to maintain transparency to the public, the Auditor General—I’d love it if it was the environment commissioner, but we’ll say the Auditor General—will report on the government’s progress each year to the assembly and before each general election.
Speaker, I hope that support for Bill 32 will send a clear message, on the eve of COP26, that the debate about whether we are going to try to meet our climate obligations is over. We can’t negotiate with physics. We can’t wish the climate crisis away. We can’t solve it with magic or wishful thinking. We have to reduce pollution now. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it. It’s just simply math and science.
We need a carbon budget to hold the current government and future governments accountable on the road to crushing climate pollution in this province. We owe it to Ontarians to be honest with them about what the road map looks like. So let’s pass Bill 32 today, and then let’s have a real, honest discussion about our differing philosophies about how we actually achieve what science says we have to achieve. Let’s send the minister off to COP26, telling the world that Ontario is ready to attract international investment in the green jobs, the new careers and the businesses that will generate the 21st-century prosperity for this province.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Jennifer K. French): Further debate?
Ms. Andrea Khanjin: I want to thank the member for introducing his bill and congratulate his niece on her first child during COVID-19. We know that would not have been very easy. I want to also thank him for bringing up the Barrie tornado that hit this summer in my community. We just found out yesterday that the actual damage went up to $100 million, from the latest report by the Insurance Bureau of Canada.
It shows you the impact that climate change has had. We haven’t been denying the large impacts that it has had. You talked about the naysayers in your speech. It’s too bad that we have those in this day and age, because we’ve seen the impacts of climate change through different provinces, through different countries, and through how it impacts different towns and cities across this province.
It was one of the reasons one of the first of many actions this government took was a climate impact assessment, which recognized the fact that you can’t have a one-size-fits-all model, something we heard really clearly from the Insurance Bureau of Canada and from the impact assessment centre in Waterloo—talking about the fact that we do need a climate impact assessment. Barrie may be more prone to tornadoes, but another community may be more prone to flooding; another one might be more prone to forest fires. So it’s really important to take that approach, working with our municipalities.
The really interesting thing about the climate impact assessment is—we’ve had great experts who have been working on this challenge. The consultants who have been hired to work on this are leaders in what they do. It’s being led by the Climate Risk Institute—to conduct Ontario’s first-ever, province-wide, multi-sector climate change impact assessment.
The whole point here is to gather data and be informed—again, to be able to know what kind of infrastructure we need to build in a certain place. For example, if Barrie is more prone to tornadoes, the conversation that we’re having with council is, should we have hurricane straps—the special bolts we have in roofs when it comes to the building code in that particular area that would protect those homes—versus another part of Ontario that is not so prone to those tornadoes? So that’s where this type of data and knowledge will be really important.
I agree with the member that this is global. It’s a serious problem. Our youngest Minister of the Environment, who is the current minister, has said that climate change is a multi-generational challenge, and he’s on the record saying it. He has said that the actions we take now will obviously impact future generations. So I agree with him on that part. We have to look at greenhouse gas emissions—the reduction, holistically, in what we can do. For example, it’s not only carbon; it’s also methane. Methane actually produces more greenhouse gas emissions than carbon dioxide.
What’s interesting is, we know that each person, just to put this in perspective, generates about two polar bears in waste each year, and a big portion of that is food waste. If you were to treat the food waste that we produce, it would be a country that would be the third-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions on this planet, if you were to put that into that perspective.
We know that methane is 80 times more harmful than carbon dioxide. It’s why it’s important to utilize those types of things and say, “We know this is a bad greenhouse gas emission. How do we utilize it as energy? How do we decrease it?” One of the plans that we have in our Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan is to eliminate organic waste out of our landfills, which will be very great in terms of keeping methane levels low, but also utilizing that energy.
We talk about reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Well, there are places across this province that have been able to utilize new technology and innovation in order to store that methane for energy. Not only is that a net positive for the province, because not only does it reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, but we’re also utilizing it as a resource.
I had the opportunity to go to StormFisher in London this summer and see first-hand what they’re doing. They take that sludge and power it to make electricity to source the grid. I also saw a similar technology this summer in Brantford, where they’re trying to get that up and going.
The point here is to think of the life cycle of our whole earth and, of course, Ontario. How do we take a product and think of the whole life cycle of it? A great part of this type of initiative and a lot of the things that we’re doing on the waste file, for example, is that we’re not taking things for granted. We’re thinking about how we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions—making something out of glass versus making something out of plastic. What are the full life cycle consequences of those products? You might be actually producing more greenhouse gas emissions producing the glass even though you may think it’s better. We also have a shortage of sand in the world right now, so that might not be your best prospective. Those are the types of things that need to be considered when it not only comes to greenhouse gas reductions but also how we work as an economy through this country. That’s one aspect in waste.
There’s also how we use travel and the type of sources of energy that we use for travel. We know that the transportation sector makes up more than 80% of greenhouse gas emissions. We also know that a third of that is from gridlock and transportation. So transportation is obviously a big factor that, in Ontario, we need to consider.
But we know that if it’s just EVs we invest in, that might not be the full solution, because right now batteries—yes, they’re improving and range is getting better. But for long hauls, we’ve heard from experts—last week, I was at the WiRE and Plug ‘n Drive hydrogen business webinar. What we heard there was that, yes, EVs are great, but for long hauls, hydrogen is better. For bigger trucks and SUVs, hydrogen is better.
That’s why it’s important for a government not to have that one-size-fits-all solution. There are going to be different solutions for different sectors that want to be a partner with the government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which is very important.
I have to give us some credit as a province because emissions in Ontario, for example—we are responsible and we are on track to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 30% below the 2005 levels by 2030, according to the department of environment, conservation and parks. Emissions already went down 21% in our province since 2005. And Ontario is actually responsible for the majority of Canada’s progress when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions. Ontario is the only province in all of Canada that’s actually reaching its targets. On top of that, we’re ahead of places like Brazil, Australia, Michigan and New York.
Ontario is doing its part, but it doesn’t mean we have to stop today just because we’ve reached that part of the target. Obviously, we have to keep going. That’s why we have some of those other initiatives that we’re working on. You have to think of clean tech, innovation and how energy plays a role in this. You really have to be a new thinker when it comes to seeing some of these technologies.
We know that the clean tech sector right now accounts for $20 billion in annual revenue and $1 billion in exports and 130,000 jobs, which is why this government has the strategy when it comes to investing in that type of technology, whether it’s the Minister of Economic Development, who has a really cool strategy for our transportation sector—which builds on the $2 billion we gave to transform the Oakville assembly plant to build EVs.
We’re also working with our partners in the north so that we can mine some of these great natural resources that help us reduce greenhouse gas emissions, because they contribute to building things like electric vehicles. We know we have the graphite in Hearst. We know we have the cobalt in Timiskaming. We know we have the lithium in Red Lake. All of that will not only help boost our economy, especially post a global pandemic, but also help the environment and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Those are all great things we’re working towards.
It builds on things like increasing the options for people to use different types of transit. If they don’t want to get an electric vehicle or they don’t want to get into a hydrogen-run vehicle, they can also get on public transit. So we need to invest in things like our subway system in the greater Toronto area, in the Golden Horseshoe. We need to expand our options for GO trains—and some of that is happening in this province in terms of more GO train times, which is great.
We also need to wean people off of that fuel that—obviously, gas prices right now are very high, and tomorrow someone can’t just sell their fuel vehicle and get into an EV right away. Some people need a transition in between that. To account for that bit of transition, we passed what’s called the new cleaner transportation fuels regulation, which requires renewable fuel content and regular grade gasoline to be 15% by 2030. That, as a result, is the equivalent of taking thousands of tonnes of car emissions off the road, which is excellent in terms of that transition and gets our greenhouse gas emissions down.
We have to attack the different sectors. We talk about transportation, our waste sector. We also have to look at our building sector and the building code and how we can make that more efficient. We’re getting there, but of course, this government is definitely doing more on that side—again, using new technologies that we have today, new knowledge that we have today.
Another initiative, of course, that we’re utilizing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in this province is the Emissions Performance Standards Program. This is a really rigorous program, and it has been endorsed by the federal government. Essentially, it’s a program that holds large industrial emitters accountable for their greenhouse gas emissions—your private member’s bill talks a lot about accountability—and so this is something we’ve already put into place, as the provincial government. Beginning January 1, 2022, the program will be active. It will help us work with big polluters so that we are able to achieve the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions but do it in a way where we’re working with industry so they do take this initiative seriously and they don’t just say, “Well, we don’t want to do business here anymore,” and they pack up and they leave. That’s very important.
Again, we’re tackling those different sectors that are so important.
We have to think of the future and our young people and educating them on the impacts that they have. Education is very key. This coming Friday, there’s going to be an announcement that I, unfortunately, can’t be at, but I know our new minister of citizenship and immigration will be there, working with the Greenbelt Foundation on educational programs through our schools—something that places like Earth Rangers already take part in—but also telling our young people what they can do, to uplift them and empower them to do something about the environment. That aspect, as well, is really key, because this is going to be our next generation of people who can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They’re also inheriting our planet, inheriting our province after us.
Again, it’s a multi-pronged approach that this government has. Obviously, as a province, Ontario currently is a leader, but it doesn’t mean we have to stop leading. Certainly, more can be done, but I would point the member to the fact that we are currently on track. We still have more to do. I really appreciate him introducing this private member’s bill.
I look forward to further debate.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Jennifer K. French): Further debate?
Ms. Marit Stiles: Speaker, I’m very pleased to join the debate today and speak in support of Bill 32, the Carbon Budget Accountability Act. For my constituents in Davenport, I’ve got to tell you, there are few issues that rank higher in priority than climate change and the environment. As an urban community, we have certainly felt the impact of climate change, with sweltering summers threatening the health of vulnerable people in our community and extreme weather events resulting in flash flooding in neighbourhoods like Silverthorn.
My constituents, like most Ontarians, want their provincial government to show leadership on the climate crisis. They want to see tangible action to mitigate its impacts.
But since coming to power, the Conservative government has taken us backwards in the fight against climate change. One of their first acts, in fact, we all recall, was to repeal the Climate Change Mitigation and Low-carbon Economy Act in 2018. Instead of working to fix the flaws of a Liberal government’s approach and strengthening the cap-and-trade system, they just scrapped it entirely, along with virtually all greenhouse gas reduction programs in the province. In its place, they adopted the same weaker Canada-wide targets that were set by the Harper government. The result of that rollback in climate legislation has been more than obvious. Last year, the Auditor General reported that Ontario wouldn’t even meet those weak, grossly inadequate targets.
That’s why I am so proud that our party, the New Democratic Party, has put forward a bold and comprehensive plan to make Ontario a climate leader in Canada. Our Green New Democratic Deal includes a carbon budget process not unlike the one that’s contained in this bill.
Speaker, it goes without saying that we are very rapidly reaching the point of no return. We need these actions now. We are reaching that point of no return in relation to catastrophic climate change. That’s no reason, though, to give up. I often feel, and I know my constituents do too, that this government has done that—that they’ve thrown up their hands in the air.
At this week’s COP26 summit, world leaders are going to gather and they’re going to evaluate their progress and they’re going to claim to move forward. Many of us in this House, I think, are hoping against hope that Prime Minister Trudeau is going to show leadership there, with new, ambitious targets. I won’t hold my breath, but I’m hoping.
If we are ever going to reach those targets as a country, Ontario has to step up. It is time for us to stop pretending that climate change is somebody else’s problem and start acting like it is the immediate crisis that it is.
The United Nations has said that climate change is the defining crisis of our times. How we approach this—not 10 years from now, not 20 years from now, not even five years from now—right now will define the future for our children and our grandchildren and their children. It’s going to determine whether or not they get to swim in clean lakes, like we do; whether they can walk through the countryside and can breathe in clean air, or have to stay inside; whether they get to experience more pandemics like we’ve experienced. This is what is at stake, and it’s not, unfortunately, seven generations down the road; it’s coming now.
Passing Bill 32 would be a good first step, and I encourage all members to support it.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Jennifer K. French): Further debate?
Mme Lucille Collard: It is really great to see a bill that gives the climate crisis the appropriate level of attention. I also appreciate the level of expertise of the member for Guelph on the matter.
Climate change is not just an environmental problem; it is an existential threat to humanity. If global emissions continue to rise, then natural disasters will increase in frequency, with catastrophic results. We don’t need more impact assessments; we need to act, and we need to act now. If we want to stop the already felt impact, then all jurisdictions must do their part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. As a society, we should be treating climate change just as seriously as if we were at war, because the climate crisis has the same potential for dire consequences.
This bill would set Ontario on an extremely ambitious course for reducing our contribution to climate change. If every jurisdiction in the world had a plan to achieve the types of reductions foreseen in this bill, then the climate emergency would be resolved and warming would be held to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
We’ve seen that looming disaster is not enough to compel this government to prioritize climate change, because they are still talking about climate change impact assessments. That is why I am supportive of the way this bill directs climate action by financially penalizing the Premier and the environment minister when they fail to meet the targets. I hope this would result in an approach that is more in line with the science of the climate crisis.
Not only has the government failed to take necessary action to improve our reduction efforts, but they have actively fought against existing environmental measures. This government has spent $30 million in legal fees and $4 million in advertising costs fighting the federal price on pollution. A carbon tax is the most economically efficient and pro-market way to reduce emissions, so you would think that the PC government would be supportive of it. Instead, they have fought against any kind of energy transition.
The member for Barrie–Innisfil mentioned certain targets that were attained successfully. But those were achieved because of actions from the federal and the previous provincial Liberal governments.
I know that plenty of members opposite must support a carbon tax, as they did under their previous leader. It is unfortunate that they are constrained by the Premier’s resistance to climate action. It was extremely disappointing that the climate crisis was not even mentioned in the recent throne speech. This government also eliminated tax incentives for people to buy electric cars and ripped electric car charging stations out of the ground.
I hope that in the future we can take a more collaborative approach in this House to achieving tangible emissions reductions. Instead of spending money fighting environmental measures, we should be pouring money into public transit systems and encouraging municipalities to build more livable and efficient cities. We should also be taking a more ambitious approach to transitioning our energy system and strictly limiting the amount of methane that is emitted in Ontario.
This private member’s bill has firm and ambitious targets for emissions reduction, and I am happy to express cross-partisan support for it.
I, like many members of this House, am inspired by the commitment that my children have to climate justice. They urge me to constantly push for stronger climate action, and I do my best to make them proud. By the way, these notes were written by a young lad working in my office who is really attuned to what’s happening in the crisis. I’m sure that many of us have kids like this, and we have all witnessed the mass demonstrations that students have held to push for a greener future.
If the worst effects of climate change are to be averted, we have to act boldly over the course of this decade. Let’s treat this issue with optimism and commit to doing our part in holding warming to 1.5 degrees. I hope that we can find a way for all parties and all members of this House to collaborate on strong climate action. After all, we all believe in climate change and the necessity for action; therefore, stronger progress on climate should be possible.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Jennifer K. French): Further debate?
Ms. Jessica Bell: I rise in support of Bill 32, the Carbon Budget Accountability Act. It comes at a very opportune time, because this week and next week the climate summit is meeting in Glasgow to continue the international negotiations to chart a path through this crisis that we are facing.
There are so many reasons why I like this act. One is because it has a very clear plan for how we should be reducing our emissions over time—by half by 2030 and net zero by 2045—and because it ensures that Ontario does its part to meet the Paris accord goal of reducing warming to less than 1.5 degrees, since that is what the science is telling us we absolutely have to do.
It is important because Ontario is one of the wealthiest provinces in the world, and that means that we have a responsibility to lead. It is important because Ontario is seeing the consequences of climate change every day, from the floods, from the fires, from the smog, from the extreme heat events that we experienced last summer and will continue to experience.
Like many of us, I have children. My children got to experience a summer with very difficult temperatures and very difficult weather this summer, and we spent an inordinate amount of time indoors because it was so hot and the smog was so bad. And it is going to get worse.
What is also important is that there is a plan here with targets. But we also need some practical steps and measures that we are going to take moving forward. That is why I am very proud of our party and our Green New Democratic Deal plan, because it very clearly outlines how we’re going to turn this vision with targets into practical steps that will change our society—steps that include climate-friendly planning so that we can protect our greenbelt and our farmland from urban sprawl and single-family homes when there are better places to build.
It’s a plan that includes phasing out gas-powered plants so we can green our electricity grid.
It’s a plan that includes retrofitting our buildings so that our buildings are energy-efficient and we take those steps to reduce the amount of electricity and energy we need in the first place by moving forward with conservation.
It’s a plan that includes phasing out the sale of gas-powered vehicles and moving to electric vehicles, which is absolutely critical.
It is a plan that includes investing in public transit so that everyone can easily get around from A to B at a very affordable price.
There are measures that we know we need to take to turn this vision into a practical reality. We know we have the knowledge, the passion, the skills and the resources to guide humanity through this crisis. What we are lacking is the political will.
I am urging the members on the other side to join us on this side and have the political will to pass this bill and implement it for the sake of our children, your children and all the children.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Jennifer K. French): Further debate?
Ms. Sandy Shaw: I would also like to thank the member from Guelph for introducing this bill. I’ll definitely be supporting it.
You get emotional, and so do I. I’ve got seven grandkids and one on the way. This is really important for them. As a young person said recently, “Some of us have to live in the future you’re setting on fire.” This comes from a very personal spot, so thank you for your emotion; I appreciate it.
I also want to assure you that an NDP government will introduce carbon budgeting as part of our Green New Democratic Deal.
I agree that there’s always real value for Ontarians to be able to keep their government to account—the transparency—but it’s particularly important with this government, when it comes to their absolutely atrocious record on the environment. It’s not just their lack of action, but it’s the things that they have done and the things that they’re planning to do that are actively making the climate crisis so much worse. So, yes, this is absolutely the example of a government that needs to be held to account with emissions reporting.
I’m sure we all have our running list of the things that this government has done to assault the environment—let’s start right away with firing the Environmental Commissioner. I would like to assure you that we will restore full powers to the office of the environment commissioner under a New Democratic government.
The Auditor General, in that capacity, has written scathing report after report on this government’s performance when it comes to their climate mandate.
And this government keeps losing in court when it comes to the things that they’re doing around the environment. They’ve repeatedly broken the law, violating Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights—and MZO after MZO, forcing people, without any appeal, to develop on protected ecological sites.
They have no credible climate plan, none whatsoever. They have some nice words. They have what amounts to a pamphlet when it comes to a climate plan in the province, but this wishful thinking—in it, they’ve even lowered Ontario’s climate targets. We have litter day, but we have nothing that’s a law. We have nothing that’s binding on the part of this government to make sure that they meet those targets.
I agree that we need to track our progress, but wouldn’t it be great if we actually had a government that would lead the way? Instead, we have to rely on folks like McMaster youth, who are organizing McMaster Divest, trying to get investments out of carbon fossil fuel industries. Students are doing their part.
The resistance to Highway 413—that will be an absolute climate disaster.
People across the province have given up on the government when it comes to reducing GHG emissions, but they are organizing themselves to push back, to say that this is not what we want to see in the province of Ontario.
In Hamilton, we have the Stop Sprawl group that is trying to push back against this government’s forced aggressive urban sprawl. People in Hamilton have overwhelmingly said that they want a no-boundary expansion when it comes to this government forcing this kind of sprawl that will pave over carbon-sequestering farmland and natural areas.
Absolutely, as has been mentioned by our members here, as part of a Green New Democratic Deal we will bring all kinds of plans forward, including an electric net-zero-emissions vehicle strategy.
As we know, they ripped charging stations out of the ground, but even worse, the incentives have made the availability of electric vehicles so limited. In fact, none are available. They’re all going to BC or Quebec because we have absolutely no subsidies here to support those.
I want to finish by saying that I wholeheartedly support this bill. It’s always a pleasure to listen to you in the House. It’s a pleasure when we have talks about this government’s abysmal track record on the climate. In the spirit of collaboration, and for each of our kids and our grandkids, I will be supporting this bill.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Jennifer K. French): I return to the member from Guelph, who has two minutes to reply.
Mr. Mike Schreiner: I want to thank the members from Barrie–Innisfil, Davenport, Ottawa–Vanier, University–Rosedale and Hamilton West–Ancaster–Dundas for speaking on this bill, and I want to thank those members who have indicated their support for this bill.
The IPCC recently said we face a code red. The bottom line is, climate pollution is going up, not down, in Ontario. We need an accountability mechanism that shows the people of Ontario what the numbers are, what the government is doing to make sure we meet our climate obligations. The climate obligations outlined in Bill 32 are just Ontario’s fair share—the fair share of what every jurisdiction around the world needs to do to ensure our children and grandchildren, our nieces and nephews have a livable future.
The member from Ottawa–Vanier said that it’s like we need a wartime mobilization. Yes, it is like we need a wartime mobilization.
For people who say that Canada is too small and Ontario is too small to make a difference, well, I guarantee you, when Nazi Germany was taking over Europe, Canadians and Ontarians didn’t say, “We’re too small.” They didn’t say, “We don’t have to get involved because the United States hasn’t gotten involved.” They did their duty. They stood up and fought for a future for their children.
That’s exactly what we need to do, to mobilize to address the climate crisis. My hope is that we can get past the debate about whether we need to do it or what the level of pollution is. Let’s start debating how we do it so we can ensure that the businesses the member from Barrie–Innisfil talked about can actually survive and thrive in the province of Ontario.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Jennifer K. French): The time provided for private members’ public business has expired.
Mr. Schreiner has moved second reading of Bill 32, An Act with respect to a carbon budget for Ontario.
Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? I heard a no.
All those in favour of the motion will please say “aye.”
All those opposed to the motion will please say “nay.”
In my opinion, the nays have it.
A recorded division being required, the vote on this item of private members’ public business will be deferred until the next proceeding of deferred votes.
Second reading vote deferred.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Jennifer K. French): All matters relating to private members’ public business having been completed, this House stands adjourned until 10:15 on Monday, November 1, 2021.
The House adjourned at 1707.