Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna walks to a news conference in the Foyer of the House of Commons in Ottawa, Thursday. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

‘Only fair’: McKenna on excluding Saskatchewan, Manitoba from $2B carbon fund

OTTAWA — Manitoba and Saskatchewan have been given until the end of December to sign on to the federal government’s national climate change agreement to avoid losing out on millions of dollars to help cut emissions.

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna unveiled details Thursday of the Trudeau government’s promised $2-billion Low Carbon Economy Fund, to be spent in two streams over the next five years.

The first is a $600-million Low Carbon Economy Challenge for industry and public sector projects, to be launched this fall and doled out on a merit-based, project-by-project basis. Municipalities, provinces, territories, indigenous governments and organizations, businesses and not-for-profit organizations can all apply for funds, which will be prioritized for projects that provide the biggest emissions reductions for the lowest cost.

The second is a $1.4-billion Low Carbon Economy Leadership Fund per capita fund for provinces and territories that have signed on to the Pan Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change.

Each eligible province will receive a base of $30 million plus a per-capita share of up to $1 billion.

Manitoba and Saskatchewan, the only two provinces that have not signed on, have been told they will only get their share of the funding if they sign up by the end of the year.

If not, their shares — about $66 million for Manitoba and $62 million for Saskatchewan — will be transferred to the challenge fund. Those provinces can apply for funding under the challenge fund regardless of whether they join the framework.

McKenna said “it’s only fair” that the provinces that stepped up to help Canada meet its international commitments to reduce emissions get to share in the fund.

“We’re certainly working very hard with Saskatchewan and Manitoba and are very hopeful that they’ll sign up to the pan-Canadian plan on climate change,” McKenna said.

“But let’s be clear, all provinces and territories agreed in the Vancouver declaration with the prime minister that we needed to have a credible plan with serious actions that would meet our international obligations.

“The pan-Canadian framework on climate change represents that plan and we will be supporting provinces and territories that have signed up for the plan.”

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, however, called the plan “extortion.”

“Withholding funds from provinces that don’t go along with the federal government’s policies represents a new low in Canadian federalism,” Wall said in a Facebook post.

“Justin Trudeau promised a new era of co-operative federalism. This is new, all right. It is, by an order of magnitude, more punitive, petty and heavy-handed than anything Stephen Harper ever did.”

Wall has already threatened to sue Ottawa if it imposes a carbon tax on his province, as it has promised to do by spring 2018 if Saskatchewan doesn’t put a plan in place. All the provinces on board with the framework have agreed to impose a carbon price of $10 per tonne by 2018, rising to $50 per tonne by 2022.

The low carbon fund was first created in the 2016 federal budget to help provinces fund initiatives to significantly cut greenhouse gases, part of Canada’s race to meet its targets under the Paris climate change accord.

Canada must cut almost 200 million tonnes of emissions by 2030 to meet its target of reducing greenhouse gases to 30 per cent below 2005 levels — equivalent to taking more than twice as many cars off Canada’s roads as are even in the country.

Ontario’s environment and climate change ministry issued a statement Thursday cheering the measure and touting its own work to date on the file.

“Ontario’s climate action efforts support this federal framework, allowing us to achieve real emissions reductions at the lowest possible cost for people and the economy,” the statement said.

“We see this as an opportunity to form partnerships, and to further deliver on our commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help Canada meet its commitments under the Paris agreement.”

The federal government wants the money spent on projects that significantly reduce emissions, prioritizing those that are most cost-effective. Initiatives must also be in addition to existing projects or those that are already planned.

Just Posted

BREAKING: Red Deer to host Canadian Finals Rodeo in 2018

Saddle up Red Deer, the Canadian Finals Rodeo in Canada is coming… Continue reading

Veterans’ Park barrier key to pedestrian safety, says Red Deer traffic engineer

The recently roughed-up concrete barrier in front of Veterans’ Park has seen… Continue reading

Man accused of home invasion in court

Victim was shot and cut with machete in September 2017 attack

Suspect accused of fleeing police in court

RCMP fired shots twice while trying to arrest three suspects in October 2017 chase

WATCH: Rebels play floor hockey with Annie L. Gaetz students

The Rebels may be on a losing streak but they were definitely… Continue reading

Ice dancers Virtue and Moir to carry flag at Pyeongchang Olympics

Not since Kurt Browning at the 1994 Lillehammer Games has a figure… Continue reading

Beer Canada calls on feds to axe increasing beer tax as consumption trends down

OTTAWA — A trade association for Canada’s beer industry wants the federal… Continue reading

Central Albertans recall Hawaii’s false missile alert

Former Red Deer councillor Paul Harris was hanging out at the Ka’anapali… Continue reading

This robotic maid takes us one step closer to ‘The Jetsons’

Imagine this: You’re rushing to get ready for work — juggling emails,… Continue reading

Milan line offers canine couture for pampered pooches

Milan has long been the world’s ready-to-wear fashion leader. Now, dogs are… Continue reading

Kim Kardashian West and husband Kanye welcome baby girl

NEW YORK — It’s a girl for Kim Kardashian West and her… Continue reading

Advocate poll takers oppose plastic bag ban

Red Deer Advocate readers like their plastic bags. In an Advocate poll,… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month