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Amendments to cap and trade bill make gains for low-income and vulnerable communities

Yesterday’s amendments to the proposed cap and trade bill (Bill 172) saw real gains for Ontario’s low-income households and vulnerable communities. Yesterday, the government carried motions that bring low-income households and vulnerable communities’ needs to the fore when the Minister considers how to use cap and trade auction revenues.

Before these amendments, section 68 of Bill 172 did not require the Minister to consider the needs of low-income households and vulnerable communities, and allowed the Minister too much discretion when choosing initiatives to fund using auction revenues. Now, section 68 requires the Minister to consider:

  • the potential greenhouse gas reductions of the initiative;
  • the relationship of the initiative to the achievement of the greenhouse gas emission reduction targets established under section 6;
  • the relationship of the initiative to other potential, planned and funded initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas;
  • the relationship of the initiative to the climate change action plan prepared under section 7;
  • whether initiatives funded by auction revenues are likely to assist low-income households and vulnerable communities in their transition to a low carbon economy; and
  • such other matters as the Minister considers appropriate.

A further welcome amendment that passed yesterday was that the Minister must now publicly report, every year, the Minister’s evaluations of how well the initiatives funded from auction revenues meet the criteria under section 68.

Yesterday’s amendments built on the amendment of April 11th, which requires the Minister to consider low-income and vulnerable communities in the Climate Change Action Plan (CCAP).

CELA supports these amendments to Bill 172 as an important step toward ensuring environmental justice in Ontario’s carbon pricing regime. \We look forward to the opportunity to review the CCAP and the reports under section 68 to assist the government in honouring its promises to low-income households and vulnerable communities.