Pollution cost Canada $2 billion in Lost Labour Output alone

The June 2017 report, Costs of Pollution in Canada: Measuring the impacts on families, businesses and governments reviews and synthesizes existing studies to produce the most comprehensive assessment of pollution and its costs  in Canada to date. Some quick facts: the cost of climate change-related heat waves in Canada is estimated to have been $1.6 billion in 2015; Smog alone cost Canadians $36 billion in 2015. But the report also provides detailed estimates, organized in three categories: 1.  Direct Welfare Costs: (Harm to health and well-being such as  lower enjoyment of life, sickness and premature death); 2.  Direct Income Costs – (Direct out of pocket expenses for families (e.g. medications for asthma), businesses (e.g. increased maintenance costs for buildings) and governments (remediation of polluted sites); and 3. Wealth impacts.

Direct Welfare Costs of pollution, the most studied and understood,  are estimated as at least $39 billion in 2015, or about $4,300 for a family of four.  The Direct Income Costs   that could be measured amounted to $3.3 billion in 2015, but the study cautions that this many important costs could not be measured, and full impacts on income were likely in the tens of billions of dollars.  In this category, the study estimates  Lost Labour Outputs, using a metric derived from the 2016  OECD study,  The  Economic Consequences of Outdoor Air Pollution.  The OECD estimates outdoor air pollution to cost 0.1% of national GDP, which, when applied to Canada’s  2015 GDP of approximately  $1,986 billion, implies a costs of about $2 billion in lost labour output alone. And finally, Wealth impacts, or costs on value of assets , are said to be the least understood of pollution costs, about which, “We simply do not know how much pollution costs us in terms of lost wealth”.

Costs of Pollution in Canada: Measuring the impacts on families, businesses and governments was prepared by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), with funding from the Ivey Foundation; the full report is available in English- only. Summaries are in English  and French.Short  videos were derived in cooperation with the Conference Board of Canada to focus on key topics:  e.g. extreme weather, contaminated sites, and smog .

New Canadian NGO Promotes Polluter Responsibility and a Clean Economy

Canadians for Clean Prosperity has launched a website with the goal of educating Canadians and advocating for political action towards polluter responsibility. The website estimates the costs of pollution clean-up – currently borne by taxpayers – at approximately $27.1 billion dollars, or $1779 per Canadian household.

Their online petition states: “We call on the government to impose pollution fees and use the revenues to cut taxes, dollar for dollar, on things we want, like jobs and income.” Don Drummond, former Chief Economist of the TD Bank, Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip and Munir Sheikh, former Chief Statistician of Statistics Canada are among the Advisors to the group; the business-oriented Board of Directors includes Greg Keissling of Bullfrog Power, and Bruce Lourie, President of the Ivey Foundation. See the website at http://www.cleanprosperity.ca/.

While Harper Courts European Oil Markets, Oil Sands Monitoring Report Released, Zama Alberta Suffers Pipeline Spill

In the same week that Stephen Harper faced protests from British environmentalists over his attempts to promote Canadian oil for European markets, at home, Alberta’s Energy Resources Conservation Board is reported to have released a report which states that from 2010 to 2012, not a single oilsands company was able to meet the tailings reductions targets set out in the ERCB Directive 074, and the volume of tailings has increased, not decreased. However, the regulator will waive any penalties, arguing that the targets were probably “overly optimistic”. Read “ERCB waives tailings penalties” in The Calgary Herald (May 12) at: http://www.calgaryherald.com/business/ERCB+waives+tailings+penalties/8513087/story.html.

The spill of industrial wastewater from oil production near the northern Alberta town of Zama has drawn criticism of the regulators, including the ERCB, for their slow response. See “Zama spill spurs questions on Alberta pipeline safety measures”at the CBC website at: