Chamber submits feedback to the feds

The Estevan Chamber of Commerce has submitted feedback to the federal government regarding the 2020-21 federal budget.

The House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance invited Canadians to share their input and concerns for the financial plan. Specifically, the committee wanted written submissions on the theme of Climate Emergency: The Required Transition to a Low Carbon Economy.

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The Estevan Chamber of Commerce formally submitted six recommendations to the committee that included funding and support for carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology.

“This technology has moved coal-generated power from fossil fuel generation to low carbon with the potential to be carbon neutral power generation. That is a huge distinction that is not understood nor recognized federally,” the chamber stated in its submission to the feds.

The chamber is also calling for the development of an Energy Centre of Excellence in Estevan.

“A centre of knowledge and research excellence on low carbon energy production would unite energy industries from across our country to all focus on how to reduce our carbon emissions,” the chamber wrote. “We could be for the energy industries what the protein industries super cluster is for AgriFood development.”

The third recommendation was that the government needs to consider the social and economic implications that low carbon policies place on communities. The chamber also recommended that the communities that are adversely affected by government policies have access to funds and support in a timely manner for transitions.

“The mining and utilities portion of the local labour force is equal to over 20 per cent of the employment in Estevan. Due to the impact of the federal GHG regulations, by 2030 Estevan will lose approximately 20 per cent of the labour force directly with the shutdown of coal. The subsequent divestment of those wages out of our local economy could have a reverse multiplier effect of two to three times the initial number, potentially impacting nearly half of the labour force.”

The chamber put forth that the government also needs to recognize that reliable and affordable base load power should not be compromised by the transition to a low carbon economy. Finally, the chamber recommended that there needs to be the development of a Low Carbon Index Report to communicate to Canadians where carbon tax dollars are going and how that is impacting the carbon footprint.

“Canadians should know what the move to a low carbon economy is not only costing us but also what it is saving us. Canadians have a right to know where there carbon pricing dollars are going and if those dollars are making an impact on the problem that they are supposed to be addressing.”

Jackie Wall, the executive director of the chamber, said Canadians need to see that government policies and the carbon pricing system are making a real difference to Canada’s overall carbon emissions. 

“Not only does the government need to provide accountability that their policies are making a positive impact, but they need to be ensuring that it does not come at the cost of the social and economic well-being of Canadians. The chamber sees CCS technology and the establishment of an Energy Centre of Excellence in Estevan could be a real part of the solution.”

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