Ontarians experience changing climate while Ford slashes climate policies, offering no alternatives

The Council of Canadians joined with allies in enviornmental, union, health and social justice movements in sending a letter to Ontario Premier Ford demanding action on climate change.

Since coming into office, the Ford government has:

  • Cancelled 758 renewable energy contracts, the vast majority of which (over 90 per cent) were small rooftop solar contracts owned by farmers, schools, municipalities and First Nations. 
  • Ended the electric vehicle incentives aimed at reducing pollution from cars and the freight sector.
  • Removed Ontario from a cap and trade programme and joined Manitoban Premier in legally challenging federal plan to impose carbon pricing. 
  • Cancelling cap and trade has ended funding for a number of important programmes. This includes the Green Ontario Fund that provided homeowners and businesses with incentives to enhance energy efficiency, a $100 million programme for school retrofits and repairs, and hundreds of millions that had been set aside for a now cancelled programme to retrofit and renovate social housing buildings for needed repairs including reducing energy consumption. This decision also leaves funding gaps for cycling infrastructure that had been planned.  
August 8, 2018

Hon. Doug Ford, Premier 

cc. Hon. Rod Phillips, Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks

Legislative Building , Queen’s Park  | Toronto,ON | M7A 1A1 

Dear Premier Ford,

Ontarians across the province are experiencing a summer of record-breaking heat waves, floods, forest fires and heat-related human  health crises  Like other countries and states around the world, Ontario is experiencing first-hand the uncertainty, expense and loss that result from a changing climate.

As the leader of the provincial government, you have a responsibility to the people of Ontario to do your utmost to safeguard them from these dangers and to ensure these risks don’t grow, unchecked, in coming years. Yet your first acts in office have focused on  revoking Ontario’s existing climate policies while offering no alternative climate plan to replace them. 

Canada’s primary network of organizations working on climate change and energy issues, Climate Action Network Canada is a coalition of more than 115 organizations operating from coast to coast to coast. Many of our members are based in the province of Ontario.

We, the undersigned, write to you today to articulate our expectations that:

  1. Your government publicly commit to achieving Ontario’s existing legislated emissions reduction goals, and; 
  2. Your government table a detailed, scientifically sound plan to meet these legislated goals as soon as possible.

Ontario needs a strong, decisive climate plan in place to ensure the province is working hard to reduce its contribution to the global carbon pollution that drives climate change - climate change that is already having very direct and serious impacts on the lives of everyday Ontarians.

The costs for fire suppression, fire- and flood-related property losses, and heat wave-triggered health interventions are contributing to tens of millions of new and growing financial burdens to Ontarians. 831 fires have been recorded as of the first week of August,  besting by more than 60% the ten year average of 511 fires per year. Early spring floods  this year caused catastrophic damages, declarations of  states of emergency, and  loss of life in southwestern Ontario.  Over $124 million in insured flooding damage was  declared in the Windsor region alone in the one month of August in 2017.  Over this Canada Day weekend, we saw the highest yet recorded humidex values for southern Ontario -  Ottawa hit humidex values of 47 degrees Celsius -  while in neighbouring Quebec, as many as  70 deaths were attributed to the same early July heat wave.

In 2016, the  Legislative Assembly of Ontario set ambitious yet achievable emissions reduction targets aligned with the actions of other provinces and states and in line with global objectives*. Despite significant progress to date**, Ontario remains the country’s second most carbon polluting province, after Alberta. We still have our work cut out for us and  we call on your government to show the leadership demanded by the climate crisis.

We look forward to learning how your government plans to address this issue in a timely manner.

Signed,

  1. Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment
  2. Canadian Interfaith Fast for the Climate
  3. Canadian Labour Congress
  4. Citizens Climate Lobby Canada
  5. Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario
  6. Citizens for Public Justice
  7. Clean Air Partnership
  8. Climate Action Network - Réseau action climat (CAN-Rac) Canada
  9. ClimateFast
  10. Climate Justice Saskatoon
  11. Climate Reality Project Canada
  12. Council of Canadians
  13. Ecology Action Centre
  14. Ecology Ottawa
  15. Energy Mix Productions
  16. Environmental Defence Canada
  17. Équiterre
  18. Foundation for Environmental Stewardship
  19. Green 13
  20. Green Neighbours 21
  21. Greenpeace Canada
  22. JustEarth
  23. KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives 
  24. National Union of Public and General Employees
  25. Noor Cultural Centre
  26. Ontario Clean Air Alliance
  27. Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation
  28. Passive Buildings Canada
  29. The Pembina Institute
  30. Pipeline Awareness Renfrew County
  31. Sierra Club Ontario
  32. Stand.Earth
  33. Toronto Conference United Church of Canada
  34. Toronto Environmental Alliance
  35. West Coast Environmental Law
  36. Wilderness Committee
  37. World Federalist Movement - Canada

* Ontario’s goals: a reduction in 1990 emissions levels of 15 per cent in 2020, 37 per cent in 2030 and 80 per cent in 2050.

** Based on greenhouse gas reporting data, Ontario has met its 2014 target of six per cent below 1990 levels. The province achieved this goal in part by closing all of Ontario's coal-fired electricity-generating stations. This remains one of the single largest greenhouse gas reduction actions implemented to date in North America.