Canada’s federal financial support to the oil and gas industry during the 2020 crisis reached US$14.4 billion (C$18 billion), Canadian organization Environmental Defence said in a report on Thursday, slamming the federal government for propping up fossil fuels while claiming to be a climate leader.
According to estimates from Environmental Defence, the federal government provided or announced it would provide US$2.6 billion (C$3.28 billion) in direct subsidy programs and another US$10.7 billion (C$13.47 billion) in public financing “funneled to oil and gas companies primarily through a non-transparent crown corporation, Export Development Canada.”
Canada’s federal government was ready to help the industry which it sees as crucial to its economy and economic recovery after the pandemic, Federal Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan said in June last year.
“This is the biggest industry in the country. It’s our biggest export, so there is a lot on the line for everybody,” the minister added.
Environmental Defence, however, criticized the federal government for its support to polluting industries, saying that “These are irresponsible government handouts to support an industry whose growth is incompatible with Canada’s climate targets.”
“For too long, Canadian governments have been propping up the fossil fuel industry, using tax dollars to fill the coffers of oil and gas corporations – the very companies and activities most responsible for the climate crisis,” said Julia Levin, Climate and Energy Program Manager at Environmental Defence.
According to the organization, “Oil and gas companies used the global pandemic to lobby for more subsidies. And the federal government listened.”
Ian Cameron, press secretary for the minister of natural resources, however, disputed some of the findings and figures in Environmental Defence’s report.
The Canada emergency wage subsidy, for example, targeted keeping unemployment down in all sectors, Cameron told David Thurton of CBC News.
“It has helped workers across the country – including oil and gas workers – put food on the table, and we make no apologies for that,” Cameron wrote in an email to CBC.