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Cap-and-trade is over, Ontario PCs say as new legislation unveiled

Ontario's environment minister is set to unveil legislation to end the province’s cap-and-trade program, claiming it will save the average family $260 per year.

Getting rid of program will save families money, Ontario energy minister says

Ontario's new PC government is unveiling legislation Wednesday that, if passed, will end the cap-and-trade program and replace it with different environmental targets. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

Ontario's environment minister is set to unveil legislation to end the province's cap-and-trade program, claiming it will save the average family $260 per year.

The new PC government has vowed to repeal the program, brought in under the former Liberal government, and fight the imposition of any federal carbon tax as well. The government claims Ontario families will save money through energy and fuel costs as well as "indirect costs" that were a result of cap-and-trade.

In a news release, Environment Minister Rod Phillips said the new proposed legislation, if passed, will compensate eligible companies that bought credits as part of the program, and will also include new measures to replace cap-and-trade with "a better plan for achieving real environmental goals."

"Ontario's carbon tax era is over," Phillips said in the news release.

'We think we've presented a very fair and reasonable framework,' says Rod Phillips of the new legislation. 6:33

The bill would also require the province to set targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and publish a plan to fight climate change, though both could be revised down the line.

It remains unclear how much it will cost the government to nix cap-and-trade. Critics have expressed concerns that the government could be on the hook for billions of dollars to compensate permit holders, and that the province has yet to explain how it will make up for the lost revenue.

Ontario's fiscal watchdog said Tuesday it will look into how much the cancellation of cap-and-trade will end up costing the province.

Programs funded by cap-and-trade already cut

The government has already taken steps to unravel the cap-and-trade program, including revoking the regulation that lays out its operation. The PCs have also cancelled a number of programs funded by the progam's proceeds, including the GreenON program that helped homeowners pay for environmentally-friendly renovations and a program that provided incentives to those buying electric vehicles.

Scrapping cap-and-trade was one of Premier Doug Ford's key promises during the province's spring election campaign and one of the priorities he vowed to address in this month's rare summer sitting of the legislature.

The federal environment minister, meanwhile, has voiced disappointment about what she deemed Ontario's lack of a plan to tackle climate change.

With files from The Canadian Press

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