It is a large revenue reserve. Ontario is currently sitting on a pile of cash estimated at around $1 billion that came through the cap-and-trade fund.
The previous provincial government laid out a plan under a law that says it can only be spent on measures that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, Ford has dismissed the money as a “slush fund,” and his government is pushing forward legislation to use some of it to cover the costs of cancelling the cap-and-trade program.
The dedicated fund for reducing greenhouse gases had a balance of $553 million at the end of March, when the last fiscal year ended, according to the province’s newly released public accounts.
Another $476 million was added in May from the final cap-and-trade auction of carbon allowances, before Ford’s PCs won the election and quickly scrapped the Liberals’ climate-change plan.
Meanwhile the Ford government faces a lawsuit over scrapping cap-and-trade.
Critics are signalling that the money cannot be spent on just about anything.
It must be spent on any carbon-reducing initiatives.
Cancelling the cap-and-trade program was a central election promise made on the campaign trail. Within days of taking power, his government shut down rebates to homeowners for making energy efficiency improvements, such as installing new windows and ended rebates for buying electric cars. Those rebates came from the greenhouse gas reduction fund.
Part of that money the government has indicated will compensate companies that bought cap-and-trade allowances, now utterly worthless. That could work out to around $5 million.
The provincial government is soon to unveil a plan to tackle climate change this fall and that includes an emissions-reductions fund.
The province is challenging Ottawa in court over the Trudeau government’s plan to impose a carbon tax on Ontario in the absence of a provincial carbon-pricing program. -CINEWS