In Bill Morneau’s last five years as federal Finance Minister, “We’ve spent more on flood and fire disaster relief than in the 40 years before that.”
That’s only one reason, he told ThoroldNews, that denying climate change is no longer an option.
In fact, a CBC poll showed that two-thirds of Canadians view climate change as a top priority in the upcoming election.
Morneau, along with Niagara Liberal candidates, stopped in to announce the party’s platform for addressing climate change at Frank’s Home Hardware in Port Colborne Wednesday afternoon.
“We have committed to allowing all homeowners to have a home energy audit,” he explained, “to see how their home is doing against carbon emissions. Right now, as a federal government, we have decided we are putting a price on pollution.”
The local announcement was made on the heels of a national one from Justin Trudeau earlier today.
Culprits like leaky roofs and windows can contribute to energy loss, and for lessening their impact on the environment, the new plan would give Canadian families loans of up to $40,000 over 10 years with no interest to make their home energy-efficient.
The money will be paid “up front,” said Morneau, “so you don’t have to pay” out of pocket, and families will get a credit of between $250 and $750, “based on how much of an impact they (improvements) have. You get credits right away, so it gives people a significant ability to make home improvements, stimulate a lot of work in the community, and make a bigger impact” in addressing climate change.
Morneau said the Liberals will provide training, to the tune of $100 million, in skills and retrofitting programs.
In addition, the Liberals plan to help the approximately two million homeowners who have been denied flood insurance due to repeated flooding.
“What we’re committing to is a low-cost flood insurance plan for all Canadians,” he said, adding that the federal government will work with the provinces and territories to institute flood plain mapping, “so you’ll know if you’re in a vulnerable area. We want to help people” who face flood disasters.
Morneau said he visited Fort McMurray following its widespread fires, where “people were completely displaced from their homes and jobs, so we will put in place a plan for relocation relief, so they can go to another location,” as well as “additional employment insurance funding so they can continue to pay the rent and groceries while they look for new jobs. If you get displaced because of a disaster, you will get help while you’re displaced.”
Liberals recognize that climate change exists, and encourage solutions, he added, “as opposed to Conservatives, who are not acknowledging the issue or finding ways to deal with it in any real way. They say they have a plan, but it’s basically non-existent.”
“The world is coming around to understanding what’s going on,” said Morneau. “Parts of the world are increasingly under water."
Morneau also took the opportunity to refute Andrew Scheer's statement, made while in Thorold yesterday, that carbon taxing isn't working.
"He is wrong," said Morneau, and he suggested reading a report from Canada's Eco Fiscal Commission that proves otherwise.
Niagara’s proximity to the Great Lakes has had a profound effect on its homeowners, said Vance Badawey, Niagara Centre Liberal MP. In the past, people were allowed to build homes in places which are now under water “for the better part of the year.” With climate change, “It’s a growing problem.”
“People are finding out they don’t have insurance to cover floods,” caused by high water from Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, he said, adding, “One hundred-year storms have started becoming five-year storms.”
Badawey said he will work with the Minister of Labour to provide training programs, which will lead to jobs.
Collectively, multiple home retrofits will reduce the cost of replacing storm sewers, pipes, and other infrastructure, he added, which will, in turn, lessen municipal property taxes for taxpayers.
Frank Danch, owner of the Main Street Home Hardware, who is also a Port Colborne city councillor, told ThoroldNews that the energy program is "important."
“The old single glass windows, it’s time to go,” he stated, adding that doors and windows should be replaced first, when trying to conserve energy.