Mr. Chairman and honourable committee members, thank you for inviting the Green Budget Coalition to speak to you today.
Active since 1999, the Green Budget Coalition is unique in bringing together the expertise of 21 of Canada's leading environmental and conservation organizations as members, supporters and volunteers, and includes groups from Ducks Unlimited to Greenpeace.
The Green Budget Coalition's mission is to present an analysis of the most pressing issues regarding environmental sustainability in Canada, and to make a consolidated annual set of recommendations to the federal government regarding strategic fiscal and budgetary opportunities.
Over the past week, we mailed each of you copies of this document, in English and French. It's the Green Budget Coalition's detailed recommendations for budget 2019, with five feature recommendations that I would like to highlight today.
Before doing so, I would like to reiterate the Green Budget Coalition's appreciation for budget 2018's investment of $1.3 billion to create and manage protected areas and recover species at risk. I would also like to reiterate the Green Budget Coalition's strong, long-standing support for taking credible, responsible action on climate change, particularly for implementing an effective price on greenhouse gas emissions. This is a measure that has broad support within Canada's business and environmental community.
For budget 2019, the Green Budget Coalition recommends that the Government of Canada prioritize actions to advance the following five recommendations collectively, with the potential to create notable economic, health and environmental benefits for Canadians, and offering many synergies amongst them: toxics and pesticides, fossil fuel subsidies and non-tax supports, sustainable agriculture, freshwater management and oceans.
First, we recommend tackling toxics and pesticides to protect the health of Canadians and our environment by providing regulatory departments—Environment and Climate Change Canada, and Health Canada—with sufficient resources to meet and enforce their current and anticipated federal legislative requirements related to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, and the Pest Control Products Act for managing toxic substances including pesticides.
Second, regarding phasing out fossil fuel subsidies and non-tax supports, we recommend that the government continue progress on aligning fossil fuel tax policy with the government's climate change objectives through increased transparency and reporting, a credible peer review process, defining what “inefficient fossil fuel subsidies” means, and a phase-out timeline for remaining subsidies and non-tax support.
Third, to deliver on Canada's commitments to sustainable agriculture, the Green Budget Coalition recommends investing in agri-environmental programs, research and development, and food loss and food waste prevention programs. This would make Canada a trusted global leader in sustainable food production and improve the agriculture sector's sustainability, resilience and competitiveness.
Fourth, to deliver 21st century management for freshwater protection, the Green Budget Coalition recommends addressing water challenges due to climate change and changing land use with improved data collection, restoring aquatic habitat, reducing land-based run-off of nutrients and pollution, and balancing hydroelectric development with river connectivity and flow.
Fifth, for conserving the biodiversity and health of our oceans, we recommend investing in long-term, stable funding to support Canada's domestic and international commitments to ocean co-management and conservation, ocean governance, and a blue economy, as well as addressing fisheries stock assessment, aquaculture research and ocean plastic pollution.
Last, in our document we also outline a number of complimentary recommendations relating to environmental science, data management, carbon pricing, international climate financing, allocating the costs of climate change, arctic ship fuels, zero emission vehicles, home and building energy efficiency, community ownership of clean energy, bird conservation, plastic waste, and first nations drinking water and waste water.
To conclude, I would like to thank you again for inviting me to speak here today. I look forward to your questions. I would happily meet with you individually with the coalition at another date.