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How did the environment do?

Dalton McGuinty may be Ontario’s greenest premier, but there are some understandable disappointments for the environment in yesterday’s hard times Budget 2010.

There is an environmental section to the budget, although (given the yawning deficit) it does not contain any money. Instead, this section boasts about the government’s previous achievements, and re-announces the promise to introduce a new Water Opportunities Act later this spring. Dwight Duncan did not even mention the climate in his speech. Meanwhile, a backgrounder quietly acknowledges that previous promises to fund $4 billion in public transit will be deferred up to five years. This will have a big impact on many municipalities, including Toronto’s Transit City.  On the other hand, these projects have not been actually cancelled, like the Bus Replacement Program. Ontario would have had to borrow the money for these projects, potentially putting its credit rating at risk.

Public sector salaries have been frozen, although staffing has not been slashed, and there are no “Rae Days”, compulsory days off with pay. This should have little impact on environmental enforcement, at least in the short run.

About water, the budget says:

As part of its Open Ontario plan, the government is developing a wide-ranging water strategy to make Ontario the North American leader in water conservation and innovation, and to sustain Ontario’s water resources for future generations. The strategy will promote new business and employment opportunities in the water sector by supporting the commercialization of water and wastewater technologies.

Through its water strategy, the Ontario government will:

Work with researchers and entrepreneurs to create jobs and to attract clean water expertise and investment in the province
Improve the efficiency of Ontario’s water and wastewater infrastructure
Introduce a new Water Opportunities Act to support the development of new technologies and practices for water conservation and treatment
Promote Ontario’s water technology sector at home and abroad.

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