When Toronto350 graded the federal Speech from the Throne in September 2020, we considered whether it represented an appropriate response to the interlocking health, economic and climate crises. The 2021 Budget puts funding behind the Throne Speech’s promises, and so we ask again, does this Budget support Canadians in a just recovery and a transition to a low-carbon economy?
In mid-March, we began this seven-part series on the upcoming federal Budget with a self-evident statement, “COVID-19 has shown us that people’s health and wellbeing must be prioritized.” Events of the last weeks have underlined this truth with devastating clarity. Even as a disastrous third wave destroys lives and families, overwhelmingly in working class and racialized communities, access to vaccinations has been grossly uneven, favouring the affluent.
On the brink of Monday’s Budget, the need for strong social infrastructure, and a resilient, sustainable economy that supports a livable future in the midst of ongoing and coming crises, has never been greater.
Canada’s use and export of fossil fuels contributes disproportionately to the costs and damages caused by GHG emissions. Extracting and exporting resources has made the country wealthy. At the same time, countries that have benefited the least from extractive economies are experiencing impacts, like food insecurity and forced migration, first and most. Canada needs to do its fair share to redress both social and ecological harms, contributing to an equitable and just transition globally.
Canada continues to lose more critical land, freshwater and oceanic habitats than it conserves every year. Habitat loss problematically increases ecosystem GHG emissions through the release of ecosystem carbon, reductions in the carbon storage capacity of our landscapes, and the loss of critical climate adaptation and resilience services. Canada’s response to the biodiversity crisis is being significantly limited by these feedback loops. These impacts are also limiting Canada's ability to leverage nature-based solutions to help meet our climate change adaptation and mitigation goals.
At the same time, ongoing colonialism continues to override Indigenous rights and land stewardship. We see this evidenced across the country as Indigenous land-defenders stand on the frontlines, confronting destructive projects that are backed by industry and government. Ongoing environmental racism also shows in high pollution rates, as seen in Grassy Narrows and Canada’s Chemical Valley.
Systems that perpetuate harm need to be called out and ended at the same time investments in programs like Indigenous Land Guardians, projects like those highlighted in Power to the People and support for non-market mechanisms that ensure biodiversity protection increase. As noted in the Indigenous Leadership Initiative blogpost, UN Biodiversity Report Calls for Greater Role for Indigenous Peoples, “If Canada places Indigenous-led conservation at the core of its biodiversity approach, we can sustain even more lands and waters.” 
The rate of COVID-19 on First Nations reserves is 40 per cent higher than in the general Canadian population. Indigenous people living in urban areas have been similarly hard-hit. The crisis represents another in a long series of failures of the Canadian state to achieve justice and reconciliation with first peoples. For an effective recovery, Canada must renew its commitment to upholding Indigenous sovereignty, laws, values, customs and traditions by investing in Indigenous communities. Collaboration and partnership will be required to develop and enact solutions that adequately address the needs of Indigenous communities.
Here is a version of our budget submission part 4 of 7, with some simple calls to action that you can take added in.
Art by Corrina Keeling for justrecoveryforall.caRead more
Decarbonizing Canada is a critical step to ensure a climate-safe and resilient future. An effective National Decarbonization Strategy can help us build back better, creating inclusive, green communities and quality green jobs (e.g. jobs in renewable energy). This strategy must include equitable partnerships with Indigenous communities, investing in renewable energy projects on Indigenous homelands and continuing to expand Indigenous ownership.
Here is a version of our budget submission part 3 of 7, with some simple calls to action that you can take added in.
To make the shift to a low-carbon future, we need an energy transformation! The second installment from TO350's budget submission deals with a shift to clean energy, active and Zero Emission Vehicle transportation and retrofits. We've added in some quick action call-outs for each section. Stay tuned for part 3!
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COVID-19 has shown us that people’s health and wellbeing must be prioritized. It has highlighted the need for strong social infrastructure and a resilient, sustainable economy that supports a livable future in the midst of ongoing and coming crises. To achieve this livable future, a low-carbon economy that ensures worker’s rights and the good of communities is a must.
Art by Corinna Keeling - see justrecoveryforall.caRead more
Well, that was fast.
On September 23rd, we heard the speech from the throne in which the Liberal government promised many things with many nice words. A lot of those promises centred on environmentalism and upholding Indigenous rights. Yet here we are, only a week later, and already it feels like we’ve been fed a bunch of lies yet again.
photo: janrune-smenes-reiteRead more