Ontario Budget targets growth of “green” economy
The McGuinty government is working to make Ontario’s economy more competitive, and the budget announced Thursday, March 26, includes hopeful signs that “competitive” means serious investment in a green economy.
Highlights of the government’s promotion of a greener economy in the budget include:
- Investing $250 million over five years for a new Emerging Technologies Fund that will include investments in green technology companies;
- Investing approximately $390 million to match Ontario’s share of the federal Green Infrastructure Fund to develop initiatives that assist in the implementation of the proposed Green Energy and Green Economy Act, 2009, including expediting the growth, transmission and distribution of clean, green renewable energy across Ontario;
- Providing $50 million over five years to enable the research, capital and demonstration projects necessary for the development of a smart grid in Ontario;
- Accelerating the government’s significant investments in public transportation and mass transit;
- Reducing energy costs and developing marketable expertise through a retrofitting program that focuses on government buildings, schools, social housing, homes and commercial buildings;
- Using Ontario’s buying power by dedicating $30 million annually to support Ontario’s emerging innovative green technology companies by providing initial purchases of their products and by showcasing and demonstrating the effectiveness of those products to potential customers here and around the world;
- $5 million for the Sustainable Prosperity Research and Policy Network at the University of Ottawa, which will help develop a new generation of market-based environmental policy approaches that promote green economic development;
- $5 million over two years to develop a Green Jobs Skills Strategy that responds to labour demand in the emerging green energy sector, including electricity; and
- Proposed amendments to the Assessment Act and regulations under that Act to provide that the assessment of properties would not be affected due to energy-efficiency enhancements.
The public sector — both the government and the broader public sector — aims to show leadership by conserving energy and using it more efficiently.
The government is also investing $50 million over four years to enhance the Innovation Demonstration Fund. Through the Fund, the government will continue to partner with innovative companies to develop emerging technologies, with a preference toward bio-based, environmental and alternative energy technologies.
The budget provisions follow on the introduction of the proposed Green Energy and Green Economy Act, 2009, earlier this year.