Letter from Mike Schreiner to Premier-designate Ford about the costs of scrapping climate change action

Dear Premier-designate Ford:

I am writing to you on the eve of the swearing in of your government on behalf of the Green Party of Ontario, my constituents in Guelph and people from across the province who care about jobs, the environment and our economy.

I want to work with your government to help Ontario create jobs, save money and fight climate change. I was elected to Queen’s Park on a promise to do politics differently, and I am ready to find common ground with you to build this province up in a financially and environmentally sustainable way.

Climate change is the biggest threat facing humanity, and there is an urgency for all of us to act. Fortunately, what is good for our air and our planet is also generating jobs and prosperity.

You yourself acknowledged in the final leaders’ debate that climate change is real and human-caused. I want to believe you when you say this. Yet, since being elected, you have begun to dismantle programs designed to reduce greenhouse gas pollution, create jobs and lower utility bills. And you have done this without offering alternative solutions.

I urge you to reconsider this path.

First, the steps you are taking to pull Ontario out of cap-and-trade without a transition plan are reckless and unnecessary. You are creating uncertainty for businesses and risk for the people of Ontario, who could be on the hook for paying back the $2.8 billion in worthless permits purchased by Ontario companies.

By rushing to exit our agreements with California and Quebec, you are stoking the conditions for Ontario to be embroiled in courts battles and you are potentially putting taxpayers on the hook for billions in legal fees, penalties and other costs. Your actions are bearing the hallmark of the gas plant scandal, when decisions were pushed through by ideology and ego rather than logic and evidence.

I ask you to slow down. To consider the costs of your campaign slogans. To give businesses time to adjust. To show us a plan before killing what’s in place.

Second, climate denial – whether explicit or implicit – is bad for business. It is time to accept that pollution pricing works and that we need it to tackle climate change. 80% of economists say that it is the most market-friendly and low-cost option for reducing emissions. And across the world, 67 jurisdictions representing about half of the global economy, are implementing pollution pricing.

There is no evidence to support your talk of ‘job-killing carbon taxes’. In Ontario’s first year of cap-and-trade, unemployment shrunk from 6.4 to 5.5%, and GDP was at a seven-year high. In fact, the four provinces that led the the country in growth in 2017 were the ones with a price on carbon – Ontario, Quebec, BC and Alberta.

Pollution pricing is essential and it is coming, whether by Ontario’s design or by the hand of the federal government. It is time to give up the slogans, accept the facts and put forward a made in Ontario solution.

Third, I am deeply concerned about the message you are sending to businesses and to families. Advanced manufacturing, cleantech innovation, and energy efficiency are where job growth is happening and collectively it represents a $7 trillion global economic opportunity. Ontario’s cleantech sector employs 130,000 people. The corridor between Waterloo-Guelph-Toronto contains 14 of Canada’s top 20 tech companies who are creating the next generation of clean innovation and technology for the rest of the world.

Yet your decision to shut down Ontario’s GreenON rebate programs without notice is causing businesses to reconsider their investments in Ontario. You have told them that we are closed for business.

And to families who want to lower their bills by conserving energy, you have taken money out of their pockets and told them that they must do this alone.

Instead, you are pouring more money down the nuclear drain, costing us $1.1 billion per year to keep Pickering open. These savings could be shared with people. Is this what you meant by “help is on the way?”

If your goal is to create jobs and lower bills, I must ask why you are doing the exact opposite.

Fourth, inaction on climate change threatens our pocketbooks and our safety.

According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, severe weather such as wildfires, droughts and ice storms caused $4.9 billion in insurable damage in 2016. The last three years have been the hottest on record globally. It is estimated that Toronto will experience an average of 53 days of extreme heat annually in the future, putting seniors, young people and so many more at risk. Last month’s windstorm cost $380 million in damage. Devastating spring floods have become the norm. This is not the future I want for my daughters and I know it is not the future you want for your children either.

I do not need to remind you that Canada is part of the Paris Climate Agreement and obliged to make urgent efforts to keep warming below 1.5C. We are one of the top ten polluters in the world, and yet your actions have signalled that Canada’s largest province doesn’t care.

I hope you are not abandoning Ontario’s GHG reduction targets. These targets matter – to people here in Ontario and to the health of our planet. If the economic case is not enough to convince you, then I hope you will consider our shared moral responsibility to do what is right.

Finally, I believe we have common ground because we can fight climate change and put money in people’s pockets.. You have talked about returning money to taxpayers, and I want to remind you that this can be done with pollution pricing.

For years the Green Party has called for a revenue neutral carbon fee-and-dividend system that returns money back to people through dividend cheques. This gives companies the incentives they need to lower emissions without hurting people with modest and middle incomes. This is a way for you to keep your campaign promise without sacrificing the climate or our children’s future.

And instead of cancelling home energy retrofits altogether, you can replace GreenON with a more transparent and accountable Eco-energy Audit Program similar to the one cancelled by the Liberals. This successful and popular program put money in people’s pockets to improve their home’s energy performance verified by audits.

I hope you will listen to these and other sensible solutions. I want to work with you and the new cabinet.

But I also want to be clear that it is unacceptable for any government in 2018 to act as if the climate crisis doesn’t exist. I am asking for your plan – for a real climate change plan that includes a market-based price on pollution. That supports the clean economy. And that helps people to save money by saving energy.

Climate change is real and we face it together. You can be sure that I will be standing up for this fight every day at Queen’s Park.


Mike Schreiner
MPP-elect, Guelph
Leader, Green Party of Ontario

Ford fails to lower Ontario’s electricity costs by $1.1 billion per year

QUEEN’S PARK —  Premier-designate Doug Ford’s plan to keep the Pickering Nuclear Station open until 2024 may be good for the nuclear lobby, but isn’t good for the people of Ontario.

“Today, Doug Ford chose to side with the powerful nuclear lobby rather than fix what’s really wrong with our broken energy system,” said Green Party of Ontario Leader Mike Schreiner.

“The decision to keep Pickering open past its best before date will cause electricity bills to go up. It is fiscally irresponsible when lower cost alternatives are available.”

It is a mistake for the new government to double down on the Liberal government’s past energy missteps that have caused electricity bills to rise. According to an article from TVO citing the Independent Electricity System Operator of Ontario, 42% of the price increase in the global adjustment (GA) is due to nuclear contracts, 26% from natural gas and just 17% from renewable energy contracts.

Why is Mr. Ford supporting the source of power most responsible for rising electricity prices?

“Mr. Ford clearly doesn’t want to help people lower their electricity bills with his decision to support overpriced outdated nuclear power and his plan to cut programs that help people save money by saving energy,” added Schreiner.

Quick Facts

Pickering Nuclear Station

  • is the 4th oldest nuclear station in North America. Opened in 1971, it was originally designed to operate for only 30 years, but now Doug Ford will keep it running for over half a century.

  • Pickering Nuclear Station is within 50km of the largest population centre in all of Canada. A nuclear accident at Pickering could lead to the evacuation of more than 650,000 people for 30 to 100 years.
  • Ontario could save $1.1 billion per year by closing PIckering on schedule. This includes saving $737 million per year by avoiding the sell of excess power at a loss and $407 million by purchasing low cost water power from Quebec at 5 cents per kWh.
  • Shutting down Pickering would create 32,000 person-years of employment and make Ontario a global leader in nuclear decommissioning, expertise we can export elsewhere.

On National Indigenous Peoples Day, action is long overdue to end environmental racism

QUEEN’S PARK —  Green Party of Ontario Leader, Mike Schreiner, issued the following statement for National Indigenous Peoples Day:

“Today, I reflect on what our First Nations, Metis and Inuit brothers and sisters have taught us about how to care for the planet that sustains us. And the essential need to consider our impact on the next seven generations with every decision we make.

This includes treating water as a sacred public trust that must be protected for ourselves and future generations. We must also show respect for all peoples and the animals with whom we share this land and co-exist.

It is important to acknowledge the legacy of colonization and environmental racism that exists.

We have a responsibility to be honest about the conditions in First Nations communities and acknowledge that Indigenous livelihoods, traditional practices, and basic human rights have been compromised by industrial projects and pollution. We must act to stop this.

In Grassy Narrows, successive governments betrayed Indigenous communities by not addressing ongoing pollution of the English and Wabigoon River systems. Action to clean up the river and set up the mercury health centre must be a priority.

In Sarnia, petrochemical refineries were historically built right next to First Nations, spewing toxic pollutants on already marginalized communities. The people of the Aamjiwnaang First Nation deserve justice and our government must enforce stronger air and water quality enforcement to protect those living in Chemical Valley.

So while we celebrate the original people of this land today, as settlers we must do more.

It is our responsibility to strive towards reconciliation in everything that we do. We owe this to the people who have called Turtle Island home since time immemorial and who have suffered under the weight of colonization.


Ford should reverse plan for government monopoly on cannabis

QUEEN’S PARK — The extension of cannabis legalization gives Ontario time to fix its flawed plan for a government monopoly. The Green Party is calling on Premier-designate Doug Ford to implement a cannabis retail plan that will put an end to the unsafe underground market.

“The former government’s cannabis monopoly with 40 government run retail stores will do nothing to end the unsafe underground cannabis market,” said Green Party leader Mike Schreiner. “The new premier now has time to fix this by licensing and strictly regulating local dispensaries to also sell cannabis.”

The Prime Minister has granted provinces more time to get their house in order for the landmark shift to legal cannabis. The Green Party has long advocated for a model similar to the craft brewery industry, in which small businesses and dispensaries would be regulated to sell cannabis in a safe and controlled way. Doug Ford previously hinted that he would be open to allowing private sector sales, but has remained silent on the issue ever since.

The GPO supports sharing cannabis revenue with municipalities and dedicating all provincial revenue to supporting addiction programs.

“A few government run stores will not only lose money, it will continue to drive people to the unsafe underground market, hurting our economy and shutting out local businesses who want to operate safely and honestly,” said Schreiner. “A thriving underground market will also continue to make cannabis readily available to minors.”

“This is a chance for Doug Ford to change course. If he truly wants to create jobs for the people of Ontario, then he could take some time away from waging war on the cleantech sector and look at involving independent businesses in retail cannabis sales,” added Schreiner.


Schreiner calls for Ontario to work with Ottawa to welcome refugees

QUEEN’S PARK — On World Refugee Day, the Green Party of Ontario Leader calls on Premier-designate Doug Ford to work with the federal government to welcome refugees to Canada and Ontario.

“The struggle of the world’s most vulnerable is in our hearts and minds, particularly as we see startling images of families being separated down south. Canada can and should do more to ensure those fleeing conflict, persecution and climate change are accepted with care and compassion,” said Green Party of Ontario Leader, Mike Schreiner.

“That’s why I’m calling on the Premier-designate to work with the Prime Minister to show leadership in the refugee crisis and ensure Canada and Ontario are acting morally as defenders of human rights and not turning their backs on those in need.”

According to the UNHCR, there were 25.4 million refugees fleeing their countries due to violence, persecution and human rights violations in 2017, the highest number ever seen. And projections are that by 2050 as many as 140 million people will be displaced by droughts, storms and other extreme weather, as climate change makes their homes uninhabitable.

Ontario should continue to open its hands and hearts to those in need. With millions of displaced people, we have the means to help the most vulnerable in the global community.

“We can and must do more to help community organizations, non-profits, and faith communities in the sponsorship and ongoing support of refugees. The GPO will continue to push for responsible, compassionate immigration and settlement policies in Ontario,” said Robert Kiley, deputy leader and GPO Immigration and International Trade critic.


Ontario’s energy efficiency programs shut down

QUEEN’S PARK —  Premier-designate Doug Ford is making it harder for people to save money on their energy bills. He is hurting businesses that have made significant capital investments to provide energy saving services for people.

Eliminating Ontario’s energy efficiency programs without warning or detail will hurt families and businesses who want to save energy and fight climate change.

“Mr. Ford’s actions will hurt families and businesses working hard to save money by saving energy,” said Green Party Leader, Mike Schreiner.

“I’ve already received emails and calls from business owners angry that Ford’s reckless actions will force them to fire staff and lose money.”

The GreenON website (https://greenon.ca/) has been replaced with a simple message listing all of the programs that have been cancelled. A call placed to GreenON confirmed that all of the rebate, installation and retrofit programs for homes and businesses have been discontinued.

“Mr. Ford has declared war on businesses creating jobs that are good for the environment and that help people save money by saving energy. Unfortunately, Mr. Ford is sending a message to companies and job creators that Ontario is closed to the $6 trillion clean economy,” said Schreiner.

The Premier-designate announced that his first act of cabinet would be to scrap pollution pricing, but he has made no mention of shutting down energy efficiency and rebate programs. This move comes before his cabinet has even been announced. This recklessness will result in job losses in the energy conservation and building retrofit sector.

“It’s ideological and it’s short-sighted. I challenge Mr. Ford to explain how cutting programs that help people lower their energy bills is consistent with his ‘for the people’ message,” Schreiner added.


Time for Ford to turn populist promises into real policy

QUEEN’S PARK —  The people of Ontario deserve to hear from Doug Ford the Premier-designate, not Doug Ford the campaigner.

“Being premier is about more than crowd-pleasing slogans. It’s about leadership. What is Doug Ford’s vision for the province? What is he going to do besides cut and gut everything the last government did?” asked Green Party of Ontario Leader, Mike Schreiner.

In his brief speech to caucus, Ford repeated the same clichés from the election, before kicking the media out after only five minutes.

There was no mention of the public sector hiring freeze and how it will impact hospitals and classrooms. There is no plan to fight climate change after Ford hastily announced the end of the only program we have for reducing greenhouse gas pollution.

“Mr. Ford is thumbing his nose at clean economy jobs and investment by taking us backwards on climate change. This political decision will cost us clean air and good jobs and drag us into lengthy court battles paid for by Ontarians. It’s reckless and irresponsible, without a credible Plan B,” said Schreiner.

“He cannot govern just by cancelling what the last government did. The campaign is over, and we are still waiting for Mr. Ford to turn his populist promises into real policy,” he added.

Ford’s climate denial is bad for business

QUEEN’S PARK — Green Party of Ontario Leader Mike Schreiner issued the following statement in reaction to news that Premier-designate Ford’s first act would be to cancel the province’s cap-and-trade program:

“Doug Ford’s move to cancel a price on pollution is bad for Ontario and bad for business. Canceling pollution pricing without a backup plan unfortunately sends a signal to clean companies that Ontario is not open for business.

It is unfortunate to see Mr Ford’s sloganeering and back-of-the-napkin ideas continuing post-election.

It’s reckless to move Ontario backward on addressing climate change, the greatest crisis facing our planet. To do so in haste without a proper plan is even more irresponsible. It will cost jobs and money, and have negative economic implications for our province.

I continue to be shocked that as a business-person, Mr. Ford is thumbing his nose at the $6 trillion dollar clean economy. Why is he ignoring what is undoubtedly the job creator of the future?

Yes, there are issues with our cap-and-trade program, most of all the exemption for Ontario’s largest polluters. The Green Party plan calls for a gradual phase out of cap-and-trade in favour of a revenue neutral fee-and-dividend system that puts money directly back into people’s pockets.

But the Premier-designate’s plan is to take a sledgehammer to what’s already in place. This does not bode well for other government programs.

I’m eager to ask Mr. Ford how he can square this decision with his acknowledgment in the final leaders debate that climate change is happening and that it is caused by human activity.

Because to date, none of Mr. Ford’s actions or bluster actually tells me that he understands the urgency of the climate crisis or our responsibility to reduce pollution.”


Greens call for provincial action to make streets safer for everyone

QUEEN’S PARK — In the wake of three tragic deaths this week on GTA streets, the Green Party of Ontario is renewing its call for a real investment from the province into safer streets.

“The simple reality is that Ontario is not doing enough to protect pedestrians and cyclists. The status quo is costing us lives, and the incoming government has a responsibility to help the city of Toronto and all municipalities make their streets safer,” said Green Party leader Mike Schreiner.

Toronto, City Council initiated Vision Zero two years ago, and yet deaths on Toronto streets are not declining, with 32 people killed this year. Safety advocates are calling for immediate measures such as lower speed limits, striped crosswalks, and tougher penalties.

Schreiner says the province must do its part to make streets and roads safer for all people.

“The province has an essential role to play in making streets across Ontario safe for all people. It is unacceptable that there is no dedicated transportation fund for walking and cycling infrastructure,” added Schreiner.

Currently the province allocates 0% of its transportation budget to cycling and pedestrian infrastructure. The Green Party continues to support a dedicated fund to support safe streets.

“We need to make roads safe, not just for cars but cyclists and pedestrians too. I am calling on the new government to establish a permanent long­-term sustainable funding stream for cycling and pedestrian infrastructure for all Ontario municipalities,” said Schreiner.


Schreiner makes history in Guelph

GUELPH, ON — Guelph made history tonight, electing Mike Schreiner to Queen’s Park. He becomes the first Green MPP ever elected into the provincial legislature.

Tonight, we made history. We showed Ontario what can happen when you vote for what you believe in. Tonight, we stood up for the people and places we love.”

Schreiner took the riding with 45% of the vote in a campaign that swept through Guelph over the last twenty-eight days, with a record number of volunteers and endorsements from media and prominent community leaders that spanned the political spectrum.

“Friends, this result confirms that Guelph is absolutely the Green capital of Ontario. We are blessed to live here and tonight it is obvious that the people of Guelph recognize our responsibility to leave a better future and a healthy planet for the next seven generations, ” said Schreiner.

Schreiner’s message of doing politics differently clearly resonated with voters who were disillusioned with the status quo and eager to see a fresh voice bring honest answers and new ideas to Queen’s Park.

“Ontario joins British Columbia, PEI and New Brunswick now as provinces with strong the Green leadership. The Green wave is real and growing because we know that we must build a bridge a future where our children can thrive.”