Menu Close

Addressing climate change through A Carbon Tax

By Abdi Ayana

The evidence is irrefutable: the earth has warmed during the industrial era. Unless we act immediately to reduce emissions, we will face the worst consequences of climate change caused by carbon emissions. And the most effective and efficient tool to mitigate carbon emissions is a carbon tax, which is a charge placed on greenhouse gas pollution mainly from burning fossil fuels.

Canada: One of the Worst Polluters

Canada’s National Observer asserts that earth’s average surface temperature has risen by about 1.0°C since 1880 and this warming is largely caused by human activities. The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased from about 280 parts per million in 1880 to 410 ppm in 2019. Carbon dioxide, the most dominant greenhouse gas is produced by the burning of fossil fuels, industrial production, and land use change. Globally, almost 80% of greenhouse gas emissions from human sources come from the burning of fossil fuels and industrial processes. Activities that contribute to emissions include: driving vehicles, electricity production, heating and cooling of buildings, operation of appliances and equipment, production and transportation of goods, and provision of services and transportation for communities.

Canada is one of the top ten global emitters of climate pollution. In 2021, about 28% of Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions came from the oil and gas sector, 22% from transport, 13% from buildings and 11% from the heavy industry sector. As a result, the analysis by U.K.-based Carbon Brief studies cumulative emissions since 1850 says Canada is responsible for 2.6 percent of the world’s total carbon emissions and as a result bears greater responsibility to align itself with a climate-safe future. Temperature has increased in all regions of Canada and in the surrounding oceans. Since 1948, when nation-wide records became available, Canada’s annual average temperature over land has warmed by a best estimate of 1.7°C. As a result, Canada is warming at more than twice the global rate and the Canadian Arctic is warming at about three times the global rate.  

Impact of Climate Change

Greenhouse gases from human activities are the most significant driver of observed climate change which in turn is having impacts on the environment, health and the economy.

Environmental Impact

  • Average annual temperatures are expected to increase
  • Snow, sea ice and glacier coverage will decrease resulting in rising sea levels and increased coastal flooding
  • Heat waves are likely to increase in frequency and severity, resulting in higher risks of forest fires
  • Many wildlife species will have difficulty adapting to a warmer climate and will likely be subject to greater stress from diseases and invasive species

Health Impact

Economic Impact

  • Agriculture, forestry, tourism and recreation may be affected by changing weather patterns
  • Human health impacts will place additional economic stress on health and social support systems
  • Damage to infrastructure such as roads and bridges caused by extreme weather

The Solution: A Carbon Tax

A carbon tax is the most efficient and powerful method of combating global warming and reducing air pollution, according to a new report from the International Monetary Fund. Under a carbon tax, the government sets a price that emitters must pay for each ton of greenhouse gas they emit. Businesses and consumers will take steps, such as switching fuels or adopting new technologies, to reduce their emissions to avoid paying the tax.

Taxes on greenhouse gases come in two broad forms as explained by C2ES:

  1. an emissions tax: based on the quantity an entity produces
  2. a tax on goods or services: a carbon tax on gasoline

This has already proven to be a success in British Colombia where a carbon tax was introduced in 2008. Analyses suggest that the policy has reduced emissions by up to 15%. Meanwhile, provincial real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by more than 17% from 2007 to 2015 outpacing the rest of Canada. Furthermore, per-capita gasoline demand dropped by 15% between 2007 and 2014.

Climate change is here to stay and its impacts are unavoidable. A carbon tax is proving to be the most powerful tool in the fight against climate change and the government must ensure it is comprehensive across Canada to be even more effective.

Is Mandatory Voting Mandatory?

By Ann Mariya Nedumthottiyil

“The Right to Vote is only meaningful when you use it.”

Jean-Pierre Kingsley (Former Chief Electoral Officer of Canada)

Mandatory voting has a relevant history in Canadian politics. It was proposed as a bill (Bill S-22) in 2005 and did not become law for various reasons. It is the right time to suggest it again for the same reason it was proposed earlier: less voter turnout.

Decreasing voter turnout is a real issue for a democratic country like Canada. A democracy is where the majority of people elect their representatives through elections to carry out the majority’s decisions in a country. If the majority shows no interest in the election process, then there is a high chance of overlooking the likes and dislikes of the citizens.

Decreasing Turnout

Elections Canada researched the case of decreasing turnout, and the studies show the reasons behind the declining interest. Compared to the older generation, youth participation in the elections has been declining over the years. Lack of interest, negative attitudes towards politicians and political parties, and the lack of polling information were the primary reasons for people to refrain from the elections.

The voter turnout of Canadian citizens from the age group 18-24, the future generation, was only 47%, whereas 75% of citizens from the age group 65-74 participated in the recent federal elections held in 2021. This notable difference should be considered if the government wants to protect democracy from collapsing. It was not very different for the provincial elections. The 2022 Ontario general elections had only 44% voter turnout from the 11 million total voters of the province. This is why we have to adopt mandatory voting.

Why not make voting mandatory?

In 2005, the bill did not become law because of the following two primary reasons:

  1. Restriction of personal choice

Fundamental Freedoms in the Canadian Constitution allow the citizens the freedom of thought, belief, opinion, and expression. If mandatory voting becomes law, this restricts the personal freedom of the citizens to refrain from the election.

  1. Potential for uninformed votes

There is a potential for increased uninformed votes if it is a forceful law to vote. Since it is compulsory, people might not look into it further and then vote for someone which will cause misinterpretation and might affect the actual results of the election.

Why we should make voting mandatory

There are certain advantages if mandatory voting were to become law:

  1. Voting – Base of Democracy

People fought for their Right to Vote to ensure the active participation of everyone without any discrimination and to represent everyone’s needs despite their various social and economic situations in a democratic government. As Abraham Lincoln said, a democratic government should be “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” This is attained through the voting and election process and is meaningless if the country has a low voter turnout. Mandatory voting will ensure everyone’s preference is represented in the country’s government.

  1. High voter turnout

Active participation of the citizens in elections leads to the political stability of the parties and the government. Mandatory voting will increase the voter turnout percentage, which is currently very low, which is a drawback for an active democratic country. A successful example is Australia, where voter turnout is 80% to 90% in every election.

  1. Inclusive government

The government should ensure equal representation from every section of the society, both majority and minority. This guarantees that everyone’s voice is heard equally in a governing body and leads to an inclusive government, a healthy way to maintain democracy in a country.

Saving Democracy

Adopting mandatory voting could save democracy from collapsing and ensure an inclusive government where every citizen matters and every voice is heard. Compulsory voting guarantees citizens’ active participation in a country’s decision-making process. It is crucial in a democratic country to listen and act according to the majority’s wishes. To achieve that goal, everyone needs to vote. By voting, citizens would develop a sense of belonging and more trust in the government. Adopting mandatory voting would ensure a healthy democracy.

Preserving Public Health: Ontario’s Battle – Privatization vs. Public Care

By Amandeep Anu

In the ongoing debate surrounding the future of healthcare in Ontario, the pivotal choice between privatization and public care assumes a central role in shaping the well-being of the province’s residents. While compelling arguments emerge from both sides, the necessity of advancing public healthcare is the definitive path forward for Ontario. This assertion is grounded in exploring the principles underpinning the Canadian health system, examining the current state of Ontario’s public healthcare infrastructure, and critically evaluating the pros and cons associated with privatization.

The Foundation of Public Healthcare

The Canadian health system stands on principles designed to prioritize the welfare of its citizens. Universality, comprehensiveness, portability, accessibility, and public administration form the bedrock, ensuring that healthcare is not merely a privilege but a right accessible to all Canadians. These principles resonate with the foundational values of a just and compassionate society.

Challenges Facing Healthcare in Ontario

A comprehensive 2022 survey highlighted significant concerns within Canada’s healthcare system. Foremost among them were inadequacies in staffing, issues related to access to treatment, and prolonged waiting times, spotlighting systemic challenges that demand targeted attention. The imperative to address these underlying issues takes precedence over contemplating a shift toward privatization.

The 2022 survey highlighting concerns within Canada’s healthcare system depicted various significant issues reported by respondents. Notably, 63% of individuals identified insufficient staff as a primary challenge, while 47% expressed concerns regarding access to treatment and long waiting times. Additionally, the aging population was recognized as a significant factor by 29% of respondents. Bureaucracy, lack of investment in preventive health, and general lack of investment followed, with percentages of 20%, 18%, and 16%, respectively, pointing to systemic issues requiring attention.

Further concerns included the cost of treatment accessibility, poor safety, and inadequate treatment quality, each noted by 12%, 7%, and 7% of respondents, respectively. Less frequently cited issues encompassed the lack of choice, low standards of cleanliness, and other unspecified concerns, ranging from 4% to 3% of those surveyed.

Ontario’s Current Public Healthcare System

An intricate network, centered around the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP), defines Ontario’s healthcare system. Oversight by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) and coordination by Ontario Health set the framework within which healthcare providers operate. Accountability to the MOHLTC and/or Ontario Health ensures adherence to standards (Ontario’s Healthcare System). The regional intricacies managed through Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) further customize healthcare delivery to address local needs.

Privatization Argument

Proponents of privatization advocate for shorter wait times, increased choices, and more autonomy over treatment decisions. However, the associated flaws, including inequalities in access, prioritization of profits over patient care, potential cost escalation, and the strain on public healthcare due to resource diversion, pose severe threats to the fundamental principles of the Canadian health system.

Public vs. Private Healthcare

The advantages of public healthcare in Ontario, anchored by the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) and coordinated efforts through agencies like Ontario Health, include publicly funded insurance ensuring access for all, progress in reducing wait times, a focus on public health outcomes, and the elimination of a profit motive, facilitating efficient resource allocation. However, challenges such as a shortage of healthcare providers and a fragmented system persist.

On the other hand, private healthcare, while potentially offering enhanced efficiency, increased patient choice, and treatment control, raises concerns about limited accessibility and a focus on profit over care. The choice between public and private healthcare hinges on aligning with the core principles of the Canadian health system and ensuring that the selected model prioritizes equitable access, quality care, and the well-being of the entire population.

How to Improve Public Healthcare

Acknowledging challenges within the public healthcare system, the Ontario Medical Association (OMA), representing 43,000 physicians, has proposed comprehensive recommendations to address existing gaps. These encompass reducing service backlogs, expanding mental health programs, enhancing home and community care, fortifying public health, and fostering digital connectivity between healthcare providers and patients.

The trajectory for Ontario’s healthcare system necessitates a commitment to strengthening its public care infrastructure. Addressing challenges inherent in the existing system and implementing recommendations from authoritative bodies, such as the OMA, will foster a healthcare system that authentically reflects the values of its citizens. Public healthcare, anchored in principles of accessibility, equity, and the pursuit of public health outcomes, remains the unwavering guardian of the well-being of Ontarians. As the province perseveres to preserve public health, collective advocacy for a system aligned with the principles that define the Canadian ethos becomes imperative.