The 2018 Ontario election is fast approaching, and it’s time to get ready. People are hungry for a different kind of politics – one based on honesty and integrity. Mike Schreiner and the Green Party of Ontario will bring that refreshing voice.
This Thursday, the five local Green Party ridings are coming together to plan our next few months. Join Stacey Danckert, candidate for Kitchener Centre, and Zdravko Gunjevic, candidate for Waterloo, in this open meeting.
All are welcome. Please bring along anyone who would like to contribute! The Green Party is committed to grassroots decisionmaking, and we are going to build a campaign that resonates for people here in Waterloo Region.
The 2018 election is coming up, and you can be part of the momentum. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to see how you can get involved in the campaign.
We’re committed to making decisions that put people first. So as we prepare for a provincial election in June, it only makes sense to start with the people here in Waterloo Region.
Over the last few months, newly-nominated candidates Zdravko Gunjevic (Waterloo) and Stacey Danckert (Kitchener Centre) sat down with local community groups to hear about what issues are top-of-mind for folks who live here.
This is what we heard:
Meeting on safe injection sites hosted by Downtown Kitchener BIA
We have amazing organizations in Waterloo Region who work on-the-ground on harm reduction strategies. The Fentanyl crisis is hitting our community hard and safe injection sites will help save lives.
Organizations like OneRoof, AACKWA, and the various emergency shelters in Kitchener-Waterloo are closest to the people, but their resources are stretched thin. They need permanent, stable funding in order to consider opening up a safe injection site.
The Region of Waterloo is currently determining the need for a safe injection site, gathering information from users and harm reduction groups.
Stable provincial funding, either to the Region’s public health department or to one of the harm reduction groups, would provide the financial certainty we need to open up a safe injection site, and start saving lives.
Soup & bannock lunch hosted by UW Aboriginal Education Centre
The weekly soup and bannock lunch on the University of Waterloo campus helps to build bridges between the Aboriginal Education Centre and other campus departments; to provide a sense of community and homestyle cooking for Indigenous and non-Indigenous students on campus.
When we visited, there were awareness-raising activities related to the inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, activities which are also intertwined with UW’s 16 days of action for gendered violence.
Violence disproportionately affects Indigenous women, trans and non-binary folks, and people of colour, and we need to amplify these issues locally. The annual Take Back the Night march is organized on an ad-hoc basis every year, as no one organization has the capacity to take it on in a permanent way. Dedicated funding is needed to support initiatives like these.
We also spoke with Chief Troy Thompson, of the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne. His community is at the end of a 30-year legal battle for their land rights in Eastern Ontario. A current buy-out is being offered by the Federal government, for far less than the land was worth. Troy’s community has a difficult decision to make about whether to accept the legal settlement, or keep fighting in the courts. This adversarial approach to land claims is completely unacceptable behaviour by governments that claim to be ushering in an era of reconciliation.
Locally, the UW Aboriginal Education Centre has started a Mohawk language program. The resurgence of Indigenous languages is a vital part of undoing the effects of colonialism. The language program has proven extremely popular and it’s enjoying substantial growth. This is the kind of model that could be replicated elsewhere.
Meeting with ShamRose for Syrian Culture
ShamRose is a community group active in Waterloo Region since 2012. The group played an important role in welcoming nearly 1,500 Syrian refugees in 2015-2016. The group helps settle and integrate newcomers, provides translation services, supports people job hunting and runs an Arabic school on Saturdays.
Some of the barriers and challenges the group, and by extension, Syrian/ Arabic newcomers face in Waterloo Region include:
Housing. Funding provided to government sponsored refugees is not enough when compared to actual market cost.
Health. There is a shortage of family doctors, which is a province-wide issue.
Language learning. ESL classes have been consolidated into larger class sizes, where Arabic-speaking students may not interact as much with native English speakers. We need a return to smaller class sizes and a more integrated approach.
Employment. Most Syrian newcomers have a trade which isn’t immediately recognised in Canada.
Support for Women and Childcare. Women tend to stay home with children while men get language lessons and/ or a job. This trend puts a damper on Women’s economic opportunities, and is exacerbated by unaffordable childcare options.
Transportation. Transit passes are expensive and there are a limited amount of free passes.
When we talk about climate action in Canada, the conversation often turns to fossil fuel subsidies — the billions of dollars our Federal and Provinical governments, as well as Export Development Canada, have been spending to support our oil & gas sector. The 2015 Paris climate agreement, signed last fall by the current Federal government, gives new urgency to keep global temperature rise below two degrees. To do that, we need to keep fossil fuels in the ground.
This week, the “Three Amigos” summit saw Canada, the U.S., and Mexico agree to common goals for transitioning to a low-carbon, clean energy future. Like the Paris agreement, it’s a generally positive committment that needs to be followed up — soon — with action.
The “North American Climate, Clean Energy, and Environment Partnership”, as it’s called, re-affirms Canada’s 2009 committment to phase out fossil fuel subsidies in the “medium term”. This week’s news sets a more specific goal — Canada, the U.S., and Mexico have agreed to a phase-out date of 2025.
So let’s get going. If Canada is serious about transitioning away from fossil fuels, we need to do much more than the Liberal election platform proposes (a modest scaling-down of one particular tax deduction). We still have a complex web of subsidies that benefit the oil & gas sector. They all need to go.
Tax deductions let corporations declare expenses to reduce their taxable income. These four programs directly encourage the expansion of fossil fuel operations at home and abroad:
10% deduction for Canadian Oil and Gas Property Expenses (e.g. buying oil sands rights, buying a well, leases, permits, and licenses)
30% deduction for Canadian Development Expenses (e.g. expanding a mine, building new haulage routes)
30% deduction for Foreign Resource Expenses (e.g. overseas exploration and drilling of fossil fuels)
100% deduction for Canadian Exploration Expenses (e.g. surveying land for new fossil fuel extraction opportunities, environmental studies, and community consultations before opening a mine)
Capital Cost Allowance (CCA) is a way for all kinds of businesses to deduct the cost of equipment over several years.
Accelerated Capital Cost Allowance (ACCA) speeds that process up, putting money back into the hands of fossil-fuel companies faster and reducing their taxes.
While the ACCA no longer applies for oil sands projects, it was recently introduced for liquified natural gas (LNG) projects.
In 2014, Canada eliminated duty fees for offshore oil and gas drilling equipment. This makes it more affordable for Canadian companies to drill for fossil fuels in our vulnerable Atlantic and Arctic waters.
Flow-through share deductions
Normally, tax deductions can only be claimed by the business that actually incurs the eligible expense. However, flow-through shares let corporations pass on the deductions directly to investors, whose income gets taxed as capital gains, at half the rate of regular income.
Canada allows flow-through shares for qualifying Canadian Development Expenses and Canadian Exploration Expenses – a sweet kickback for both corporations and their individual investors.
In Canada, natural resources such as minerals, oil, gas, and groundwater are owned by the Provinces. They charge royalties to companies that extract these resources.
B.C. offers a Deep Drilling Credit that waives royalty fees between $444,000 and $2.81 million per well for new fossil-fuel drilling projects.
B.C. also offers up to 50% discount on royalites for oil & gas companies to build new roads and pipelines through the Infrastructure Royalty Credit Program. The purpose of the program is to boost oil & gas exploration, and extend the drilling season year-round.
Reduced sales tax
Both Manitoba and B.C. don’t charge provincial sales tax on machienry and equipment involved in oil, gas, and mining. This includes prototyping equipment, surveying and exploration equipment, and even drill bits. There’s also a discount on the electricity required to operate the machinery.
Where do we go from here?
This week’s “Three Amigos” agreement needs to be followed up with aggressive action.
If we are to keep the planet from spilling over that 2-degree threshold, we can’t continue funding dirty fuels.
If we’re going to encourage clean energy development, we can’t keep incentivizing oil & gas exploration.
As we move forward, remember that there is a lot of work to be undone. It starts with dismantling these subsidies.