Ontario’s budget is perhaps most notable for what isn’t contained within its 268 pages.
Among the big, frequently vague promises to build highways and subways and homes and infrastructure, there is hardly a mention of climate change or environment in the Progressive Conservatives’ financial plan.
Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy told reporters the government’s “green plan” involves investing in “clean, green jobs” in electric vehicle manufacturing, developing small nuclear reactor capacity and executing a strategy to extract minerals critical to battery manufacturing from the Ring of Fire in northern Ontario.
The budget document mentions the word “environment” just 20 times, and many of those are in reference to economics, workplaces, assessments and approvals, rather than the health and sustainability of the world in which we live.
“Climate” is mentioned just five times — one of which is contained in a quote from an automaker — and the phrase “climate change” appears once.
In contrast, the recent federal budget mentioned climate 109 times in its 304 pages and environment 41 times.
Ontario’s 2018 budget, tabled by the then-Liberal government, referred to environment 46 times, climate 30 times and climate change 23 times.
Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner noted the numbers as he responded to the budget on Thursday. “The fact that the budget mentions highways 43 times and climate change five times tells you all you need to know,” he said.