The federal government’s Throne Speech on September 23 set out priorities for economic recovery, with environmentalists and labour commentators generally supportive, on the condition that actual programs are launched and funded. The first step in that journey occurred on October 1, with a press release from the Prime Minister’s Office and another from the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB), announcing its Growth Plan, which will invest $10 billion to build new green infrastructure over the next 3 years . Project investments will begin this year, focus on these five priority areas:
Clean power to support renewable generation and storage, and to transmit clean electricity between provinces, territories, and regions, including to northern and Indigenous communities. ($2.5 billion)
Internet connectivity improvement for approximately 750,000 homes and small businesses in underserved communities($2 billion)
Large-scale building retrofits to increase energy efficiency ($2 billion)
Agriculture irrigation projects to strengthen productivity ($1.5 billion)
Accelerating the adoption of zero-emission buses and charging infrastructure ($1.5 billion)
Slightly fuller descriptions are provided for each initiative in a Backgrounder from the Bank.
An article in The Energy Mix summarizes generally favourable reaction from environmental leaders, and a Climate Action Network CAN-Rac statement states: “There is still a long road ahead of us, with much more work to be done – we trust that this is only the first of many such announcements.” Labour leaders are less enthusiastic because of the CIB public-private investment structure. The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) responded on October 2 with “ Privatization won’t build sustainable infrastructure” , which opposes privatization, and calls for a recovery which invests in publicly-owned infrastructure, and which prioritizes social infrastructure in areas such as child care, long-term care and social housing.