The Ontario budget was release yesterday and underneath all the ‘tax harmonization’ talk, there is a fairly substantive contribution to green initiatives. Among them are green energy and emerging technologies, commercialisation of smart grid technologies, helping promote green tech companies, and developing a cap and trade program by 2012. 

In full, the ‘green’ elements of the budget include:

  • 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
  • $250 million over five years for a new Emerging Technologies Fund, which will include investments in green-technology companies
  • $50 million over five years to enable the research, capital and demonstration projects necessary for the development of a smart grid in Ontario
  • Reducing energy costs and developing marketable expertise through a significant retrofitting program that focuses on government buildings, schools, social housing and commercial buildings
  • Using Ontario’s buying power to support the province’s emerging innovative green technology companies. The government will dedicate $30 million annually to provide initial purchases of their products and demonstrate the effectiveness of the 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 to promote green economic development
  • $5 million over two years to develop a Green Job Skills Strategy that responds to labour demand in the emerging green energy sector, including electricity
  • Building on Ontario’s world-leading commitment to phase out the use of coal-fired electricity generation by continuing to work towards the development of an emissions cap and trade system for North America by 2012
  • Proposed amendments to the Assessment Act and regulations to ensure that the assessment of properties would not be affected by energy-efficiency enhancements.

It seems like a very contemporary budget – addressing key economic issues while still incenting ‘green’ energy and other elements of ‘green’ economy. Too bad the federal budget wasn’t more in line with this thinking.  Iguess its the old school attitude of environment OR jobs that runs deep in conservative circles… I wish they’d read up a bit on the fallacy of this attitude and how deterimental it could be in a time of renewal and reshaping. If you’d like to read more, I’d recommend The Trade-Off Myth. I grabbed a used copy a few years ago and it has help lend some rigour to my arguments that environmental regulation and green initiatives don’t chase jobs out of an area.

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