On June 8, 2016, Ontario released its Climate Change Action Plan
("CCAP"). The five year plan outlines the province's
strategy and commitments to address climate change. For more
information about other CCAP initiatives, click here. Consistent
with this government's objectives, the CAPP provides for
collaboration with First Nation and Métis communities to
reduce emissions and transition to a low-carbon economy.
By way of example, shortly after releasing the CCAP, Ontario
announced Wataynikaneyap Power has been selected to connect sixteen
remote First Nation communities to the electricity grid.
Ontario's plan to collaborate and partner with Indigenous
communities to reduce emissions and transition to a low-carbon
The CCAP recognizes that climate change creates unique
challenges and circumstances for Indigenous communities. The CCAP
also reflects Ontario's recognition that Indigenous communities
possess special knowledge arising from their relationship with the
land. It outlines Ontario's plans to partner with Indigenous
communities to create Climate Change Tables and symposia to share
knowledge, including Traditional Ecological Knowledge, about
climate change mitigation.
Partnerships with Indigenous communities create opportunities
for economic development during the shift towards a low-carbon
economy. Wataynikaneyap Power, a consortium of 20 First Nations
communities and a transmission partner (Fortis Ontario and RES
Canada) is the first recipient of CCAP funding.
The CCAP outlines plans to facilitate further investments in
energy efficiency, micro-grids and renewable energy for Indigenous
communities, including connecting remote communities to the
provincial electricity grid, or shifting towards stable and
predictable sources of power such as biomass, solar, waterpower and
wind. The CCAP does not specify whether these projects can be on or
off-reserve. Its vision is to support economic growth by creating
jobs and reducing the reliance of remote communities on diesel
fuel. The Wataynikaneyap Power project is an excellent example of
First Nations developing a partnership with a transmission partner
to move the CCAP goals forward.
The long-term success of the CCAP will depend on the development
of the renewable energy sector and adequate funding to support
projects. The CCAP envisions establishing low-carbon jobs and
training partnerships between post-secondary institutions and
Indigenous communities. The province also proposes to establish
funds for First Nation communities to develop community-level
greenhouse gas reduction projects and energy and climate action
The CCAP sections on indigenous communities clearly reflect the
provincial government mandate letters. This government has
signalled that connecting remote communities, and reducing their
dependency on diesel fuel are priorities.
The Minister of Aboriginal Affairs was mandated to improve
business opportunities for First Nations, and to work with the
Minister of Energy and the federal government to ensure that remote
First Nation communities are positioned to benefit from remote
The Minister of Energy was mandated to support and encourage
participation by First Nation and Métis communities in new
generation and transmission projects, and in conservation
Awarding the first contract to Wataynikaneyap Power to connect
remote First Nations to the grid is a step towards ensuring First
Nations benefit from the renewable energy shift in Ontario.
However, the CCAP is only a starting point. It will be judged a
success to the extent it fosters meaningful communication between
governments, industry and Indigenous communities while generating
further support for renewable energy in Ontario.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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Ontario's Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change continues to roll out its Climate Change Action Plan with its proposed GHG guide for projects that are subject to the province's Environmental Assessment Act.
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