Green Party Platform

Mike Schreiner
Image by Paul Schreiber via Flickr
Greenpages contributor Jen McLaughlin interviews party candidates in advance of the Ontario election. Her summary of the Green platform is below.

The Green Party platform focuses on 5 areas: Jobs, Energy, Food, Health and Good Government.

I interviewed three candidates from the Green Party: Steve Dyck from the Guelph riding, Rob Strang from the Dufferin-Caledon riding, and Josh Rachlis from the Eglinton-Lawrence riding. Their answers are below and offer further explanation of the Green Party platform.

Environment
* Increase extraction taxes on water used for industrial purposes (ie: bottled water)
* Raise royalties on aggregate extraction to 50 cents/tonne (current 11.5)
*** Revenue from both will be used to fund conservation and stewardship programs
* Require full environmental assessment for all mega-quarries

What incentives do you propose for individuals choosing the more sustainable products or services?
The Green Party platform encourages families and small business to invest in energy efficiency/conservation upgrades, which will reduce the energy consumption and associated costs.

Energy
     * Oppose all future nuclear plant construction and phase out coal power by 2014
     * Provide grid access to local and community power projects
     * Provide $1.6 billion over 4 years in refundable tax credits for energy efficient retrofits
     * $10/tonne price carbon placed on carbon-based fossil fuels (which will fund income tax cuts)
     * Eliminate subsidies that reward wasteful use of energy
     * Require green energy projects to have local ownership component
     * Revise the Ontario Building Code with new energy efficiency standards
     * Work with banks to develop ‘Energy Saver’ mortgages
     
Can you outline the proposed carbon tax that is outlined in the Green Jobs Plan?
Rob explains that the tax amounts to 2.4 cents/l of gas. The plan is modeled after BC’s carbon tax, a move that has resulted in the province enjoying the lowest income tax in the country. The carbon tax has also led to a decline in gas consumption in BC. 

The tax will focus less on income and more on ‘waste’. The more resources consumed, the higher the cost.  The party believes that Ontario needs to move away from a carbon-based economy, focusing on energy-efficient transit and an increase in carpooling.
Food
     * $200 million over 4 years for a healthy school food program
     * Expand the Good Food Box program to target priority populations and children
     * Set a standard of 40% local food content for public institutions
     * Work with farmers and municipalities to open more farmers markets
     * Increase enforcement of the Foodland Ontario label
     * Reward farmers for their stewardship activities (ALUS program)
     * $435 million in tax credits over 4 years for farmers

Do you think that your plans to help support local farmers will make it easier for Ontario to buy local?
Josh explains that by preserving green space and protecting the environment it will be easier for Ontario consumers to have access to local food. An added benefit is the increase in healthy options available and the reduction in environmental impact from the transportation of foods from other countries.

The Green Party wants to end one-size-fits-all regulations and work to keep the small, family-run processors open. By improving income stabilization programs for farmers, the party can cover more crops and make them more accessible for family farms.  There is currently no economic incentive to preserve farmland. The party hopes to change that by implementing its Environment Asset of Farming program. This program will recognize the clean water and air that farms provide to Ontario and work to preserve them.

Transportation
     * Revise the Planning Act to support efficient communities with safe streets for bikes
     * Establish more HOV lanes and maintain funding for public transportation systems
     * Offer $238 million over 4 years for electric/hybrid vehicle tax credits
     * Raise tailpipe emission standards steadily to encourage market for fuel efficient vehicles

What improvements in transportation systems can Ontario expect from the Green party?
The Green Party plans for balanced communities so that people can work and live in the same place, thereby minimizing the need for transportation and encouraging healthy lifestyles. The party will invest $400 million in tax credits over four years for affordable commuter benefits to support ride sharing and carpooling, flexible ways of getting to work, and a refundable provincial tax credit for transit users. The Green Party strongly supports maintaining and extending public transit infrastructure in keeping with their goal of promoting efficient, healthy, liveable communities with local shopping, a revitalized street life, safety for pedestrians, and better air quality.
Health Care
     * Provide $200 million over four years in tax credit for child and adult recreation programs
     * Invest $1.6 billion over four years on local clinics
     * Immediate evaluation of the LHINs to determine their future

What programs can we expect to support new moms?
The party believes that providing birthing centers as an option to pregnant women is an important move. The centres are a community-based solution which will allow a wide range of practitioners to work to the full extent of their license. The birthing centers could be extended to also allow for lactation consultation for new moms.

The party believes it is important for Ontario to invest in more community care clinics that will have improved access to health care, allowing mothers increased options when making the best decision for themselves and their children.

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