Green Economy Canada is calling on the federal government to launch a major national investment in local communities and small businesses to meet the dual needs of post-pandemic economic recovery and the urgency of addressing the climate crisis. Specifically, we are recommending that the federal budget include $10M to launch and grow 18 Green Economy Hubs across Canada, which will directly support local businesses in communities across the country to reduce their carbon emissions while becoming more competitive and resilient.
While small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have been hailed through the pandemic as the backbone of our economy, their critical role in shaping our trajectory towards a thriving and inclusive net zero emissions future continues to be overlooked. SMEs represent 99% of businesses in Canada and employ almost 9 in 10 private sector workers. They play a vital role not only in job creation and innovation, but in ensuring the vibrancy of our local communities.
To kick-start our economy and position Canada as a global leader, it is imperative that the federal budget include measures that enable SMEs in local communities to adapt and thrive in the accelerating worldwide transition to a low-carbon future.
Existing discussions around how to support SMEs to rebuild post-pandemic have focused on loans, grants, and digitization supports to help SMEs recover. But the new normal demands that SMEs are also reducing their carbon emissions to remain competitive and resilient. Specific supports targeted at SMEs and local economies in building back better are sparse in the federal climate action plan. Without meaningful investments to engage SMEs in seizing the low-carbon advantage, this critical segment of our economy risks getting left behind and will find it difficult to adapt to key regulations like a $170/tonne carbon price by 2030.
The Green Economy Canada network currently supports over 300 businesses to take action on climate change while increasing their profitability and growing the low-carbon economy. Based on feedback from our network, and our experience with previous climate action programs, we urge the federal government’s stimulus measures to consider the following points:
- SMEs recovering post pandemic will be especially cash strapped to invest in GHG reduction measures out of pocket, and will have limited time to figure out what green actions to take as they turn their focus on getting their core business running again. We need to make it easy for them to access, adopt and make sense of green stimulus opportunities so they can seize the full business benefits of going green.
- We can make the impact of stimulus programs last by investing in measures that build the capacity of businesses to go beyond one-off reduction projects and to internalize an interest and strategic commitment to the low-carbon transition.
With a $10M investment to scale the Green Economy Hub model across Canada, we can support SMEs — the largest share of the Canadian economy — to recover and grow while also adapting to meet the needs of a low-carbon future. Hubs are a critical deployment vehicle to help businesses in local communities take advantage of green stimulus programs around energy efficiency, EVs, and clean tech adoption, and get engaged in the net zero transition while making the benefits of the green economy visible in local communities.
For full details, read Green Economy Canada’s 2021 Federal Budget Submission.