Federal Environment and Climate Minister Catherine McKenna unveiled details of her government’s five-year, $2-billion Low Carbon Economy Fund, while setting a December deadline for Saskatchewan and Manitoba to sign on to the pan-Canadian climate plan if they want to see their share of the dollars.
The fund, originally touted as a two-year initiative, has two components, Canadian Press reports. A $1.4-billion Low Carbon Economy Leadership Fund will give each eligible province $30 million, plus a per capita share. The $600-million Low Carbon Economy Challenge will support a separate stream of front-line projects.
“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,” CP notes.
“Today, the rubber hits the road,” McKenna said yesterday. “This is an opportunity for Canadians across the country to reduce the amount of energy they use, and to save money while doing it.”
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said it was “nothing short of extortion” to limit the fund to provinces that had joined the pan-Canadian plan. “Withholding funds from provinces that don’t go along with the federal government’s policies represents a new low in Canadian federalism,” he wrote on Facebook Thursday afternoon.
McKenna retorted that “it’s only fair” to direct federal dollars to provinces that are helping Canada meet its international commitments under the Paris agreement.
“We’re certainly working very hard with Saskatchewan and Manitoba and are very hopeful that they’ll sign up to the pan-Canadian plan,” she 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.”
Wall is still “adamant he will never sign the framework as long as it requires him to introduce a price on carbon,” CBC reports. But that hasn’t stopped him from imposing what his energy minister admits is an “implicit” carbon tax of $60 per tonne to subsidize the Boundary Dam carbon capture and storage plant in Estevan.