The 2022 Ontario election is in just weeks away, but there is still time left to influence the parties’ climate platforms. Before we head to the polls, this is a make-or-break moment for the provincial parties to demonstrate how they’ll act on climate and whether 2030 climate targets are in sight. Cities’ chances of hitting their 2030 targets will also depend on whether the next provincial government takes strong action on buildings, transportation, and energy policy. TAF’s policy team has developed a list of recommendations based on those priorities for urban carbon reduction and community benefits, and we’ve sent them to all the major parties. If you’re developing your own recommendations or seeking questions to ask your local candidates about key climate policies, we hope you’ll find some ideas here.
Preparing for Zero Emissions Vehicles
The National Inventory Report shows carbon emissions from transportation in Canada rose 14% between 2005 and 2019. Health Canada has estimated that pollution from fossil-fuel powered vehicles accounts for approximately 1650 deaths and over $12.8B in economic damages annually. Zero Emissions Vehicles (ZEVs) are key to addressing this growing problem, but adoption of ZEVS in Ontario is lagging other provinces. TAF recommends the next government of Ontario:
Implement a Zero Emissions Vehicle sales mandate targeting 100% by 2030.
Ontario has fewer Zero Emissions Vehicles (ZEVs) per capita than in leading provinces, partly due to the problem of supply. We recommend Ontario set similar standards as British Columbia and Quebec, or risk losing its place as a leading automaker in North America. As consumers increasingly choose ZEVS, especially as the cost of fossil fuels soars, Ontario must immediately and rapidly scale production to stay competitive. A sales mandate would ensure readily available supply to meet consumer demand and align with the Government of Canada’s mandated ZEV sales requirement of 100% by 2035.
Provide electric vehicle rebates for new and used vehicles.
To ensure fairness, we recommend rebates support equitable EV adoption for low- and middle-income Ontarians, including rebates for both new and used vehicles. Rebates should also be considered for other electric transportation options such as e-bikes, as are provided in Nova Scotia and British Columbia.
Develop and expand Ontario’s EV charging infrastructure
Two significant barriers to EV adoption in Ontario are ‘charger anxiety’ and access to charging for people who don’t own garages or driveways. Creating a stronger, smarter, and more reliable charging network across the province will help address both barriers, and can be achieved through a suite of policies. We recommend re-introducing EV-ready requirements in the Ontario Building Code; creating a funding program for EV charging focused on key gaps (e.g. multi-residential); and supporting the rollout of advanced charging technology like super-fast chargers and bi-directional chargers. We also recommend developing province-wide targets for EV charging development for all vehicle classifications and providing a tax credit for homeowners that have EV charging infrastructure installed in their homes.
There are several ways the province can address carbon emissions from new and existing buildings while at the same time creating good jobs, contributing to more affordable energy bills, and improving public health. Provincial building policy also requires empowering cities to save on energy too. TAF recommends the next government of Ontario:
Adopt a British Columbia style “Step Code” system for new building energy requirements.
We recommend the province increase its own ambition by updating the Ontario Building Code to include higher standards and specifically allowing municipalities to exceed this requirement if they choose. An initiative like the BC Energy Step Code would set minimum requirements across Ontario and allow municipalities to opt into higher standards. This promise should include more robust commitments with increasing ambition over time, resulting in net-zero ready construction in Ontario by 2030. This commitment would keep Ontario in line with the updates to the National Model Building Code.
Ramp up investment in energy efficiency and deep retrofits, including fuel-switching.
Investing in deep retrofits of the existing building stock offers impressive benefits to the public, such as reducing carbon emissions, addressing energy poverty, and creating high-paying jobs in the skilled trades. Energy efficiency is the lowest cost option for meeting Ontario’s growing energy needs. The next Ontario Government should specifically prioritize fuel-switching for homes and developments across Ontario.
Direct the Ontario Energy Board and key institutions to double investment in natural gas and electricity conservation programs.
Every dollar Ontario invests in the Demand Side Management and electricity Conservation and Demand Management programs creates net savings for both the government and consumers, and yet investment in conservation programs has been diminishing. Ontario now spends 22 times more subsidizing hydro rates and the expansion of natural gas infrastructure than it does on conservation programs. The next government should direct the Ontario Energy Board, Enbridge, and the IESO to expand these programs.
Establish funding and performance requirements to modernize HVAC systems in long-term care homes and retirement centres.
The pandemic and the increasing prevalence of heat-waves due to climate change have brought to light that many of Ontario’s long-term care homes need reinvestment and modernization. Establishing a fund and performance requirements should include improving ventilation and indoor air quality and providing mandatory in-suite cooling. We recommend that the fund should encourage the use of heat pumps to introduce cooling while reducing carbon emissions.
Emerging Electricity Emissions
Ontario produces little natural gas locally, in fact, 80% of the natural gas used in Ontario is fracked gas from the United States. Emissions from electricity are forecast to increase three-fold by 2030 as more natural gas fills the gap for nuclear plants going offline. This will cause significant increases in utility bills, increased costs due to pipeline construction and expansion, and demand side management costs. TAF recommends the next government of Ontario:
Responsibly Phase out Natural Gas for Electricity Use by 2030 or as soon as possible thereafter
We recommend Ontario begin to responsibly phase out polluting and expensive natural gas plants and let existing agreements expire without renewing them. We also recommend establishing a plan to replace Ontario’s gas electricity power generation with renewable energy, conservation, and demand management. While Ontario may require a limited number of natural gas plants to prevent power disruption in the near term, we recommend the government create an energy plan for the province that does not rely on natural gas as a significant part of the electricity supply. This plan must utilize all strategies, including conservation, to reduce the strain of peak energy demand. Signalling an end to natural gas plant contracts will also send an important market signal to renewable energy companies that Ontario is ripe for investment.
Getting the Word Out
If lack of progress on climate is getting you down, and prospects are looking bleak for the environment in this province, don’t throw in the towel yet. Now is the time to get out there and create constructive dialogues about the future you want for Ontario. We recommend speaking or writing to your local candidates, and if you’d like to send specific recommendations to the parties, send your communications to: