What's the issue?
Ottawa's city council met on June 24 and had an update from the City Treasurer about the financial shortfall resulting from closures due to COVID. It turns out there is enough in reserves to handle the deficit in 2020 - the 2021 budget, though, is another story.
Unfortunately there were two things wrong with the proposed action plan to deal with the deficit:
1. Clawing back $2 million from the climate action plan (that's 80% of the total budget for the plan)
2. Having no plan at all to help those populations most affected by COVID, which are also the populations that would be affected by climate crises.
Climate change will not go away while budget deficits are addressed; it needs to remain a priority for Council.
Why is this an issue?
The guiding principles of the city’s climate change master plan include Leadership and Equity and Inclusion:
Focusing primarily on service cuts and sacrificing action on climate change is not leadership.
Sustainable and healthy growth can be realized by investing in green initiatives and realigning funding based on re-imagining and redesigning traditional budget allocations that entrench systemic racism and inequality.
The master plan recognizes that climate justice and social justice are interwoven and that marginalized groups are disproportionately impacted by climate crises and by cuts to services. If we can’t recover from the pandemic by doing better going forward, we haven’t learned any lessons from our experience.
Council needs to act on its own vision for the climate change master plan and take “unprecedented, collective action”, rather than seeing climate action and social justice as expendable pieces of the budget.
What can be done?
Sign our petition to tell City Council that the climate crisis will not wait and we need to protect those who are disproportionately affected.
Talk to your City Councillor and the Mayor. They need to hear from parents what their priorities are for the next year and the future. You can find your Councilor’s contact information here.
Listen on Monday, July 6th as Ecology Ottawa, 613-819 Black Hub and CAFES (Community Associations For Environmental Sustainability Ottawa) host a press conference at 11:00 am to call for transformative investments that reflect the genuine needs and concerns of the citizens of Ottawa. Watch the press conference live or on Ecology Ottawa's website anytime afterward.
Get your kids involved! Here are some ideas!
Want to learn more?
Here's some background on how climate crises disproportionately impact marginalized groups and vulnerable people.
Agenda for the July 7th Finance and Economic Development Committee meeting - including links to watch the meeting live online and how to make a presentation to the committee