I am pleased to be here on this an important day for all Canadians.
Throughout the year, many of us take time to think about how well we are doing, whether it’s our finances, health, personal relationships or how we are contributing to our communities. We take stock of what we have accomplished and we what need to do to achieve our goals.
However, it is just as important to take time to think about our environment - to measure how much we are contributing to climate change; to think of ways we can work within our communities to make the air cleaner for us and generations to come.
Many community organizations have worked to ensure a healthy environment by targeting transportation issues. Clean Air Day was established by the Government of Canada in 1988 as a response to requests from many of these groups to give this issue a higher profile.
It reflects the Government of Canada’s growing commitment to the issues of climate change and environmental stewardship. This commitment was underscored in the Speech from the Throne and this year’s Budget.
In the Budget, the Government of Canada pledged to deal with climate change in a way that produces long-term results, while maintaining a strong and growing economy. After all, as Canadians have told us smart economic policy and smart environmental policy go hand-in-hand.
Over and above commitments to green public infrastructure, the Budget committed $4 billion, over five years, for action on climate change. It also committed $1 billion to create the Clean Fund, which will use the marketplace and competition to pursue the most cost-effective green projects aimed at lowering greenhouse gas emissions. The Clean Fund builds upon popular initiatives such as the One-Tonne Challenge and underlines this government’s commitment to the Climate Change Plan for Canada. Transport Canada is doing its part. It has long promoted a sustainable transportation system that is safe, efficient and environmentally friendly.
For example, Transport Canada’s Fuel Consumption program - in place since 1975 - promotes energy conservation through the use of more fuel-efficient vehicles. Today, vehicles are more than twice as fuel efficient as they were when the program started.
The Moving on Sustainable Transportation program, or MOST as it is more commonly known, builds upon this tradition of sustainability. The MOST program provides funding to organizations to produce educational materials, public awareness programs and analytical tools necessary to make sustainable transportation a reality. MOST began in 1999 with more than $1 million over three years. It has so successful that the program has been extended to 2007, with an additional investment of $2.5 million.
Hon. Jim Karygiannis P.C., M.P.
Parliamentary Secretary Karygiannis speaking on Clean Air Day 2005
Today, I am very pleased to announce that 11 new projects have been selected to receive $407,000 in funding, under the MOST program. Five of these projects are happening right here in Ottawa and Gatineau. I would like to take this opportunity to welcome representatives from Nature Canada, the Otesha Project, EnviroCentre, Clean Air Champions, and representatives from the Gatineau Bike to Work Project. All of these organizations have taken on excellent projects that will go a long way toward a sustainable transportation system in the National Capital Region.
For example, one project will have Olympic level athletes speak to primary school students about the benefits of active transportation, so they can better understand why it is good for their physical fitness and good for the air they breathe.
In a project happening in Gatineau, one organization will receive $15,000 to launch a 16-week commuter challenge, aimed at encouraging people to bike to work.
The MOST program builds upon Transport Canada’s commitment to sustainable transportation. It builds on the transit pass program that Transport Canada is proud to be part of here in the National Capital Region.
The transit pass program offers federal employees, a convenient way to pay for a discounted annual bus pass. So far 46 federal departments and agencies have signed up for the program and more expected to sign up in the fall.
Karygiannis on a ATVP Vehicle
Jim Karygiannis riding a ATVP Vehicle
Transport Canada’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Program is another innovative program that promotes sustainable transportation. It assesses vehicles with advanced powertrains, materials, chassis designs, emission controls, fuels and other technologies to measure their impact on safety, energy efficiency and the environment. Some of the vehicles are here today and I invite you to take a look at them. While you’re looking, keep in mind that some of these vehicles can take you from here to Vancouver for about $90.
As Finance Minister Ralph Goodale outlined in this year’s Budget, no one initiative, no one decree will solve climate change. There are no short-term answers. The Government and the Department of Transport will use a wide array of tools to address climate change. While maintaining a strong and growing economy, we will respect our commitments in a way that will produce long-term results. We are asking Canadians to do their part as well. There are a number of activities, such as the Commuter Challenge, that are sponsored by the Government of Canada and I encourage you to participate in them.
The Commuter Challenge is a friendly competition between Canadian communities to encourage commuters to use sustainable modes of transportation as they travel to and from work. To take part, all you have to do is make a commitment to walk, jog, cycle, in-line skate, take a bus, carpool or telework, then enter the mode of transportation you used and the distance you traveled by visiting www.commuterchallenge.ca.
Transport Canada has participated in the Commuter Challenge for the past five years and has placed 2nd each year in the category of government departments with 1,000 to 5,000 employees. This year, with your help, we hope to win! Together, we can make a difference. Our children expect - and deserve - nothing less.
Have a great Clean Air Day.