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Net Zero Part Three: No One Tells You How Much it Will Cost

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Last week, the National Observer, one of the voices of environmental activism in Canada, published an article entitled Natural Resources Canada probes net zero affordability.

The article references an internal memo from a senior public servant at Natural Resources Canada (NRCan – the federal government department that deals with resource issues such as energy). NRCan Assistant Deputy Minister Mollie Johnson, a senior bureaucrat, is the memo’s author, and in it she notes that the department has been looking into questions on how, amongst other things,  the “Net Zero by 2050” campaign will affect affordability for consumers.

“how, amongst other things,  the “Net Zero by 2050” campaign will affect affordability for consumers.”

Now, the National Observer provides a customary green dodge on the legitimate question about the costs of Net Zero by 2050, noting that this is the kind of question oil and gas industry players focus on. The National Observer goes on to insist that the real issue is that the costs of the climate crisis are soaring – they do not really specify what costs except to point to weather events and suggest these are getting worse and that the costs of them are becoming unmanageable (both are untrue – we will address in a future blog).

It is as if they are saying “How dare energy companies and their lobbyists have the nerve to ask questions about how government policy will affect their interests! How dare Mollie Johnson suggest questions concerning a policy’s impact on affordability might be appropriate for government officials to consider before advancing the policy!”

To the environmental activists and their friends at the National Observer, the very act of daring to raise one’s hand and ask about the radical green agenda that is Net Zero by 2050, to ask ‘how much will it cost?’, is simply unacceptable. Indeed, to the activists, raising such questions is so unacceptable that asking such questions should be forbidden.

And these green propagandists consistently fall back on the usual apocalyptic rhetoric about a “climate emergency” or “climate crisis”.

ADM Mollie Johnson of NRCan appears to be doing what you would hope a public servant would do: asking how much a policy will cost the taxpayer. Thank you Ms. Johnson!

But in this time of ideological green fervor, in the cult of climate action, you cannot dare ask such heretical and vulgar questions as how policy will affect the economic well-being of citizens.

I encourage all of our readers to do just that. Call your local utility, or bank or insurance company, or a mining company, or any other company that is currently espousing a commitment to Net Zero by 2050 – and ask them how much it will cost. How much will it cost in terms of direct taxpayer dollars? How many jobs will this cost? How much in lost tax revenue will it cost the government when the jobs are gone?

My bet is they can’t answer your question.

They don’t know.

Yet they still commit to Net Zero by 2050.

Net Zero Part 4 will be published on Todayville Thursday, June 10

Click here for more articles from Dan McTeague of Canadians for Affordable energy

Dan McTeague | President, Canadians for Affordable Energy

 

An 18 year veteran of the House of Commons, Dan is widely known in both official languages for his tireless work on energy pricing and saving Canadians money through accurate price forecasts. His Parliamentary initiatives, aimed at helping Canadians cope with affordable energy costs, led to providing Canadians heating fuel rebates on at least two occasions.

Widely sought for his extensive work and knowledge in energy pricing, Dan continues to provide valuable insights to North American media and policy makers. He brings three decades of experience and proven efforts on behalf of consumers in both the private and public spheres. Dan is committed to improving energy affordability for Canadians and promoting the benefits we all share in having a strong and robust energy sector.

An 18 year veteran of the House of Commons, Dan is widely known in both official languages for his tireless work on energy pricing and saving Canadians money through accurate price forecasts. His Parliamentary initiatives, aimed at helping Canadians cope with affordable energy costs, led to providing Canadians heating fuel rebates on at least two occasions. Widely sought for his extensive work and knowledge in energy pricing, Dan continues to provide valuable insights to North American media and policy makers. He brings three decades of experience and proven efforts on behalf of consumers in both the private and public spheres. Dan is committed to improving energy affordability for Canadians and promoting the benefits we all share in having a strong and robust energy sector.

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One-third of households say they’re financially worse off compared to year ago: poll

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By Nojoud Al Mallees in Ottawa

One-third of Canadian households say their financial situation has worsened over the last year, with families in lower income brackets more likely to report being worse off, a new poll suggests.

According to a Leger poll commissioned by the Association for Canadian Studies, 34 per cent of Canadian households say they’re financially worse off compared with a year ago.

The majority of respondents, 58 per cent, said their financial situation was about the same as it was a year ago.

Nine per cent reported their financial situation has improved.

Jack Jedwab, president of the Association for Canadian Studies, said the most striking finding in the survey is the unequal challenges Canadians have faced over the last year, with those in lower income brackets feeling the largest pinch.

Among Canadian households earning less than $40,000, 42 per cent reported their financial situation has worsened. That’s in comparison with 25 per cent of households earning $100,000 or more.

“People … in lower income brackets are finding the pinch particularly difficult in terms of the effects of the inflation and higher interest rates and so forth,” Jedwab said.

High inflation and rising interest rates have squeezed Canadians’ finances over the last year. To clamp down on rising prices, the Bank of Canada has raised interest rates aggressively with eight straight increases since March last year.

Economists say lower-income households are especially vulnerable to inflation because they save less, leaving less of a buffer in the face of high inflation. That means higher prices take a larger bite into their budgets.

Meanwhile, higher-income earners save more and can weather the storm more easily.

The survey also found Quebecers were the least likely to report their financial situation has worsened, while respondents in British Columbia were the most likely to report being worse off.

Among Quebecers, 22 per cent said they’re worse off. The figure is nearly double in British Columbia, with 43 per cent reporting their financial situation has worsened.

Jedwab said diversity in responses across the country may have to do with the housing market and differences in housing prices.

Renters were also more likely than homeowners to report their financial situation has worsened.

The online survey was completed by 1,554 Canadians between Jan. 23 and 25 and cannot be assigned a margin of error because online polls are not considered truly random samples.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 7, 2023.

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Federal departments failed to spend $38B on promised programs, services last year

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By Lee Berthiaume in Ottawa

The federal government failed to spend tens of billions of dollars in the last fiscal year on promised programs and services, including new military equipment, affordable housing and support for veterans.

Federal departments are blaming a variety of factors for letting a record total of $38 billion in funding lapse in 2021-22, including delays and disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

They also say much of the money remains available for future years.

The unspent funds also played a big part in the Liberal government posting a smaller-than-expected deficit in the year ending March 31, 2022.

Canada rang up a $90.2 billion deficit — $23.6 billion less than had been projected in the budget.

The unprecedented amount of lapsed funding, much of which has been returned to the federal treasury, has one observer suggesting it is a sign of long-standing challenges delivering on big federal projects for the country.

The amount of lapsed funds across government is spelled out in the most recent iteration of the public accounts, a report on federal revenues and spending by every department and agency tabled in the House of Commons every year.

The $38.2 billion that was reported as lapsed in the last fiscal year marks a new record over the previous year, which was $32.2 billion. That was a dramatic increase over the previous record of $14 billion in 2019-20.

That compares to around $10 billion about a decade ago, when Stephen Harper’s Conservative government was accused by political opponents and experts alike of using large lapses to make cuts by stealth.

Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada reported the largest lapses of all departments and agencies, with nearly $11.2 billion of their combined $28.2 billion budgets going unspent.

Much of that had been set aside for COVID-19 initiatives that were not needed, said Health Canada spokeswoman Tammy Jarbeau. Those include vaccines, personal protective equipment and rapid tests.

“Both Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada have rigorous internal financial management controls designed to prevent, detect and minimize errors and financial losses, and ensure the funding is spent in the best interests of Canadians,” she wrote in an email.

The pandemic figured in the responses and explanations from many other departments and agencies, with many blaming COVID-19 for delays.

One of them was the Defence Department, which reported a lapse of $2.5 billion in the last fiscal year. Much of the money wasn’t spent due to delays in the delivery of new military equipment such as Arctic patrol vessels and upgrades to the Army’s armoured vehicles.

There were also delays on major infrastructure projects for the military, according to Defence Department spokeswoman Jessica Lamirande. Those include upgrading and rebuilding two jetties for the Navy in Esquimalt, B.C., and a new armoury in New Brunswick.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on many of our business lines,” Lamirande said.

“The impacts of the pandemic on supply chain and industry capacity are causing manufacturing backlogs and delays.”

Lamirande added most of the unspent funds are expected to be available in future years through a process called reprofiling, in which schedules are revised to reflect planned spending in future years due to those delays.

Former parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page said the government’s handling of lapsed funding now is “a little more relaxed” than in previous years, when unspent funds were not reprofiled and even used to justify budget cuts in Ottawa.

But defence analyst David Perry of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute said the Defence Department’s lapse, which has been steadily growing in recent years, is a symptom of Ottawa’s continued difficulties purchasing new military equipment.

“If we’re not getting those procurement projects through, we’re not getting new equipment into the inventory, so we don’t actually have the gear for our troops,” he said, noting many of the delayed projects were launched under the Harper government.

Perry also noted the current rate of inflation, which is already naturally higher for military equipment and the defence sector than most other parts of the economy. Not spending money now means Canada will have to pay more for the same gear and services later, he said.

The Infrastructure Department, the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corp. and the Fisheries Department, which includes the Canadian Coast Guard, also reported delays with different capital projects, including on affordable housing and broadband internet.

“Due to the unprecedented circumstances over the last few years such as the COVID-19 pandemic, disbursing funds to proponents for many projects are expected to and will take longer,” CMHC spokeswoman Claudie Chabot said in an email.

Perry suggested a bigger problem.

“The government of Canada’s ability to actually deliver services to the public, especially when it comes to large projects, large capital projects, be it for equipment or infrastructure or IT projects, is struggling across the board,” he said.

Other federal entities with large lapses included Indigenous Services Canada, which failed to spend $3.4 billion, and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, which reported a lapse of $2.2 billion.

Spokesman Vincent Gauthier attributed much of the latter lapse to “the timing and progress of negotiations for specific claims and childhood litigations,” adding that funds will available “in some instances” in future years.

Gauthier did not say why Indigenous Services, which is responsible for delivering federal services to First Nations, Inuit and Métis, failed to spend billions of dollars. He did say most of the money had been reprofiled “so that it will be available when recipients need it.”

Veterans Affairs Canada also reported a nearly $1 billion lapse last year, which the department blamed on fewer ill and injured ex-soldiers applying for assistance than expected.

However, critics have described earlier lapsed funding as evidence of the challenges many veterans face in accessing benefits and services. In 2014, the Royal Canadian Legion demanded the Harper government explain why $1.1 billion went unspent over seven years.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 30, 2023.

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