Federal cabinet ministers Steven Guilbeault, Catherine McKenna, and Jonathan Wilkinson have been handed responsibility for crafting “an economic recovery plan that aims to accelerate the green shift” as the immediate COVID-19 crisis subsides, La Presse revealed last week
The package will be designed to “increase the use of clean energy while reducing Canadians’ dependence on fossil fuels,” and “projects that will help reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions will be given priority,” the paper writes, citing mostly unnamed sources. The three ministers will also look at gaps in Canada’s critical supply chains that have come to light during the pandemic, “including the production of essential medical equipment during a health crisis, and also in terms of food security.”
The three ministers’ planning for the “green reboot” is still in its earliest stages, at a moment when the machinery of government is preoccupied with the immediate response to a global health emergency, La Presse says. “For the moment, the federal cabinet’s absolute priority is to manage the crisis and support families, workers, and businesses.” After that, the government will look at gradually lifting shelter-at-home restrictions before implementing a follow-up recovery plan.
At that point, La Presse says the recovery agenda could include faster electrification of transportation, support for lower-emitting, more resilient infrastructure, and funding for home energy retrofits.
“Right now, we’re focusing on the fight against COVID-19,” Guilbeault told the paper. But “in a matter of months, we’ll be into a phase of economic recovery. We’ve been asked to think about what that might look like, but we’re at the very beginning of that thinking.”
A spokesperson for Wilkinson had not responded to a request for details as The Mix went to (virtual) press. But La Presse says many Liberal MPs see the COVID crisis as a “unique opportunity to pick up the pace in the fight against climate change, and to not only meet but exceed Canada’s greenhouse gas reduction targets under the Paris Agreement,” as their party promised during last year’s election campaign.