Prime Minister Justin Trudeau talks during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Feds should invest $50B in green projects for post-pandemic stimulus: experts

A number of recommendations total $50 billion in spending over five years

When the time comes for Canada to turn its attention to post-pandemic stimulus, a group of finance and policy experts says Ottawa needs to invest heavily in green infrastructure projects, including energy-efficient buildings, to secure an economic recovery with staying power.

The Task Force for a Resilient Recovery was struck independent of government in May, with the goal of coming up with tangible actions for governments to help get Canadians back to work while also building a low-carbon economy.

The group, which includes several business and finance experts as well as leaders of a number of policy and sustainability organizations, is releasing its preliminary report Wednesday. It comes with five overarching recommendations and 22 specific measures it believes government should take when contemplating how to kick-start the economy as Canada comes out of the COVID-19 crisis.

The recommendations total $50 billion in spending over five years.

The No. 1 proposal, which comes with the biggest price tag, suggests the federal government spend over $27 billion on retrofitting buildings to be more energy efficient.

Andy Chisholm, who sits on the board of directors of RBC and is a member of the federal government’s expert panel on sustainable finance, says “inefficient buildings,” which are not ready for the effects of climate change, represent some of the biggest financial and environmental risks for Canadian economies.

But they also present opportunities.

“This is something where an enormous number of jobs can be created, existing technologies can be accelerated and commercialized and in the event that buildings are improved through retrofit, it will result in a better environment for tenants and workers, it will result in increased value for property owners,” Chisholm said.

“It’s kind of, as they say, low-hanging fruit in many respects.”

Direct government investments in building retrofits can be used to leverage up to $35 billion in additional private capital, the task force’s report says.

Other recommendations include moving more quickly to build widescale use and accessibility of zero-emission vehicles and to support the retention and attraction of clean vehicle manufacturers in Canada.

The group also wants to see the federal government accelerate investments in the renewable energy sectors; spend more on restoring and conserving natural infrastructure and invest in ways to make working for and creating green businesses easier and more sustainable.

The ultimate goal is to ensure Canada is focusing on the future and the needs of the country in the years and decades to come if and when it starts to roll out billions of dollars in economic stimulus once the health emergency spending phase is over, Chisholm said.

“Let’s be strategic, let’s try to achieve multiple objectives, let’s be forward-looking, let’s build long-term competitiveness into the thinking so that what we’re not doing is simply restoring ourselves to where we were previously … but rather puts us in a position to be stronger going forward utilizing the new and emerging opportunities.”

Helen Mountford, vice president of climate and economics at the World Resources Institute, says recent evidence from global organizations such as the International Energy Agency indicates governments that place a strong focus on renewable energy and energy efficiency can double the number of jobs created compared to the same investments in fossil fuel recovery.

Growing green sectors also creates more opportunities for groups that have been most affected by the pandemic, she said.

“By diversifying the economy in this way and moving towards a more service-oriented economy, a much more innovative economy, you actually tend to create jobs for those groups that tend to be neglected in the workforce or to slip behind, particularly in an economic recession, such as women and youth,” Mountford said.

“The question is what’s going to be best for Canadians, and I think what we’re saying is this is an approach that really would be.”

The group hopes to complete its final report soon and get it into the hands of federal officials as they plan the next phases of Canada’s recovery.

Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kelowna Secondary School. (SD23 photo)
One case of COVID-19 identified at Kelowna Secondary School

Interior Health will follow up directly with those who may have been exposed to the virus

Kelowna West MLA elect Ben Stewart addresses a small gathering of campaign supporters at the West Kelowna Yacht Club, shortly after hearing of his riding victory on Oct. 24, 2020. (Photo - Phil McLachlan)
Despite NDP majority, Kelowna remains Liberal stronghold

As several ridings in the Lower Mainland fell to the BC NDP, the BC Liberals retained three Kelowna seats

McCleave is eight years old.
AlleyCats pet of the week

Meet McCleave and Nyx

Renee Merrifield speaking to media on her front doorstep after winning the Kelowna-Mission riding for the BC Liberal Party. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Renee Merrifield retains BC Liberal Party’s seat in Kelowna-Mission

Renee Merrifield will take over former BC Liberal Steve Thomson’s seat, which he held for the past 11 years

(Norm Letnick)
BC Liberals’ Norm Letnick keeps Kelowna-Lake Country seat

Letnick acknowledged there could still be changes when mail-in ballots are counted

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

BC NDP candidate Harwinder Sandhu offered praise to her team of volunteers (pictured Oct. 21), following a too-close race with BC Liberal and incumbent Eric Foster in the 2020 provincial election Oct. 24. The outcome will be dependent on the final count from mail-in ballots expected in three weeks. (Facebook)
‘Every vote counts’ in tight Vernon-Monashee race: NDP Harwinder Sandhu

Incumbent BC Liberal Eric Foster finishes election night with slim lead

The Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO)
UPDATE: One dead after Highway 97A crash near Armstrong, police watchdog investigating

The crash happened as RCMP attempted to stop an alleged stolen vehicle

FILE – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Premier John Horgan during a press conference at the BC Transit corporate office following an announcement about new investments to improve transit for citizens in the province while in Victoria on Thursday, July 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Trudeau congratulates Horgan on NDP’s election victory in British Columbia

Final count won’t be available for three weeks due to the record number of 525,000 ballots cast by mail

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Comedic actor Seth Rogen, right, and business partner Evan Goldberg pose in this undated handout photo. When actor Seth Rogen was growing up and smoking cannabis in Vancouver, he recalls there was a constant cloud of shame around the substance that still lingers. Rogen is determined to change that. (Maarten de Boer ohoto)
Seth Rogen talks about fighting cannabis stigma, why pot should be as accepted as beer

‘I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years’

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Provincial Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau speaks at Provincial Green Party headquarters at the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe in Victoria. (Arnold Lim / Black Press)
VIDEO: Furstenau leads BC Greens to win first riding outside of Vancouver Island

Sonia Furstenau became leader of BC Greens one week before snap election was called

NDP Leader John Horgan elbow bumps NDP candidate Coquitlam-Burke Mountain candidate Fin Donnelly following a seniors round table in Coquitlam, B.C., Tuesday, October 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, NDP head for majority in B.C. election results

Record number of mail-in ballots may shift results

Most Read