The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released its 23rd Alternative Budget (AFB) on February 22 in Ottawa, in advance of the federal government’s February 26 Budget release. According to the summary at Behind the Numbers : “Our budget puts forward bold progressive policy ideas rooted in a rigorous economic and fiscal framework. Our approach considers not just standard budget items but delivers a gender-based analysis, examines income distribution effects, and projects the impacts on poverty rates.” High priority areas for the CCPA include universal child care, pharmacare, gender equity, free tuition, and a green, low carbon economy.
The report argues that the current, relatively low unemployment levels make this an opportune time to begin “in earnest, the just transition to a green jobs future.” In a section called “Industrial Strategy and Just Transition” the report calls for a National Decarbonization Strategy to be developed through broad consultation, and to act as a co-ordinating body for other AFB proposals – notably an enhanced Low Carbon Economy Fund to support cities and infrastructure investments, and a trade promotion strategy. A new $500-million Just Transition Transfer (JTT) is proposed, to flow federal funds to provinces – for workers and communities affected through actions under the National Decarbonization Strategy or for existing provincial just transition programs, such as Alberta’s Coal Workforce Transition Fund. Finally, the AFB calls for a new $1Billion Strategic Training Fund to increase training capacity at colleges and trade schools – with the funds contingent on improved representation of women, racialized Canadians, immigrants, First Nations and other groups that have been historically excluded from the skilled trades.
Regarding the environment, some of the top-level goals are : Remove all direct and indirect subsidies for fossil fuel exploration, development and transportation; enforce a stringent national carbon pricing standard (rising to $50 per tonne by 2020); contribute Canada’s fair share of global climate financing; improve energy efficiency for Canadian homes, with $600 million annually to offset the costs of retrofitting and construction; create a network of protected areas covering 17% of Canada’s land and freshwater and 10% of its oceans; strengthen environmental protection laws and make advances toward sustainable fisheries, and invest $50 million annually for a stronger environmental data and science system at Statistics Canada.