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Green Economy Network

Green Economy Network

Budget 2024 falls short on climate action

Last week, the federal government released its 2024 Budget. While we saw movement on some of the climate and labour movements’ key priorities, this year’s budget once again fails to meet the behemoth challenge posed by climate change.

After allocating $63 billion in climate spending in 2023, Budget 2024 promises just $14 billion in new climate spending. Of that, only $2 billion will be spent over the next five years.

Each of GEN’s key priorities, transit, housing, and retrofits, saw improvements, but not nearly to the level required to put Canada on track to meeting its climate targets while creating good, green jobs.


GEN’s Common Platform calls on the government invest big in high-speed rail in Canada’s three busiest corridors and that reverse course in taking a private sector-led approach to new rail development.

Budget 2024 announced an allocation of $372 million over six years for a newly established crown corporation that will support the development of the Toronto-Quebec City corridor high-frequency rail project. After toying with the idea of relying almost entirely on the private sector for the development of the project, this marks a step in the right direction towards a public goods approach to national rail.

The government has also earmarked $462 million over five years for operations funding for VIA Rail. This much-needed injection demonstrates the government’s ability and willingness to meet Canada’s public transit needs by spending money to support the ongoing operation of public transit, rather than allocating funding only to capital investment.

However, operations funding should be dedicated not just to intra-city rail, but also to inner-city transit. Many municipalities are at risk of experiencing a public transit “death spiral” caused by a deficit of future revenues, which could lead to decreased service and a subsequent lowering of ridership rates. Expanding operations funding to support inner-city transit would help fight climate change by incentivizing less personal vehicle use in favour of increased bus and rail ridership.


Budget 2024 saw a top-up to the government’s home retrofit efforts. $800 million over five years has been allocated to the Canada Greener Gomes Affordability Program. This program will provide affordable housing providers with 100% funding for eligible retrofit costs, up to $170,000 per unit.

Though a far cry from GEN’s proposed $65.5 billion toward retrofitting Canada’s homes and building stock, the government’s low-income focus is a welcomed improvement. However, significant additional retrofit funding will be required to make this sector net-zero by 2050. 


The feds also introduced an expansion to the clean electricity tax credit, which is expected to cost $6 billion. Most of the credit will not be rolled out until 2029.

$3.9 billion over 11 years has also been allocated for research into nuclear science and environmental remediation. There is nothing wrong with research into potential technologies, but much more money can—and should—be invested in technologies we already know effectively create clean electricity: namely, wind and solar power. Moreover, direct investments must be made at the federal level in inter-provincial electricity transmission.

Summing up

While our movement saw some significant gains in the form of funding for passenger rail and home retrofit funding, key gaps remain.

Most significantly, the government has failed to heed the call of labour and climate activists to implement a windfall profits tax on the oil and gas industry. Such a program would ensure that this industry pays its fair share while shoring up billions in additional public revenues that could be used to support decarbonization efforts.

For more recommendations, please consult GEN’s 10 policies for a green economy

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