Analysis of Canadian Federal Budget 2022

By Eric Miller on April 7, 2022

Budget 2022 was released on April 7 as “A Plan to Grow Our Economy and Make Life More Affordable”.

What’s missing compared to last year?

Compared to last year’s Budget document of 724 pages, this one is 304 pages including annexes.

Surprisingly, the PDF of Budget 2022 has no reporting on gender and diversity impacts (GBA+ analysis) whereas last year’s budget devoted 168 pages to this.  The website version of the table of contents includes a link to a “Statement and impacts report on gender, diversity, and quality of life” but that page displays “The web version of this page is coming soon” with a link to a non-existing PDF (“Failed – No file”).  The statement is not identified as an number annex to the budget, so it was clearly not ready in time or not meant to be examined by budget analysts and pundits.

Last year, key budget measures were (coarsely) assessed on the basis of “quality of life impacts” and a set of “expected benefits”, with scores on a 5-point scale of gender (from “men” to “women”) and income distribution (from “low” to “high income”) and a three-point “inter-generational” scale of “youth” to “senior”.  The quality of analysis seemed questionable but at least it revealed a noble intent.  Last year’s budget identified the annex as meeting the requirement of Canadian Gender Budgeting Act, 2018, which is to “report on the impacts in terms of gender and diversity of all new budget measures described in the plan”.  I learned this year in reading the Act that the government has 30 days once the budget is tabled to report on this, so I guess it’s not breaking the law by providing a broken link to a document that possibly doesn’t yet exist.

Is GDP all that really matters?

Last year’s budget included a very timid nod to “measuring what matters” beyond GDP. This excited many progressives, but evidently the government’s enthusiasm was short-lived.  This year, there’s no re-profiling of anything to do with improving quality of life measures, and no mention of having Statistics Canada follow through with progress on last year’s announcement of $300 million over five years, plus $42 million ongoing, to collect “better, disaggregated data that will enable the government, researchers, and others to better understand the experiences of people in Canada and environmental changes”.

Budget 2022 gushes about the growth of everything, framing growth as an end in itself, rather than as a means to some other end.  The Minister notes in the Foreword: “From the first day we started working on this Budget, this growth agenda was always going to be our focus.”

Canada is one of 120 countries that have committed to reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions to the point that they would be “net zero” by 2050.  This is an incredibly ambitious/challenging goal even in the absence of any growth of consumption and consumers.  And will be even more difficult with budget-fuelled growth in the number of “standalone houses, individual condos, and other types of homes alike” (doubling the number over the next ten years), growing the workforce and population (including through a proposed record of 451,000 new permanent residents which is about double the average of the last ten years), growing the supply chains of critical minerals, growing small businesses, growing the capital stock, and helping “small Canadian companies to get bigger”.

In a rare admission that growth has environmental consequences, the budget’s Ocean Protection Plan is needed because “marine traffic continues to increase in support of Canada’s growing economy”.  If the budget were honest, it would admit that emissions will increase from a growing economy.  The budget doesn’t identify any forecasted trends in emissions resulting from its myriad of initiatives that aim to increase GDP.  Each addition to GDP requires that the baseline $2+ trillion of production must reduce its emissions even more.  Fear not, the “existential challenge” of climate change identified in the budget will addressed by… the “Canada Growth Fund”!

Some additional highlights:

RE capturing carbon: Budget 2022 includes an investment tax credit for “Carbon capture, utilization, and Storage” (CCUS) that will lower “the carbon footprints of Canada’s traditional energy producers”.  The wording of “traditional energy producers” is highly questionable considering that it could apply to emissions from unconventional fossil fuels.  They write that “eligible uses” of the CO2 would include “in concrete” and in “geological storage”.  I find it curious that their acronym includes “utilization” – does this mean that captured carbon can be recycled by being re-used on a pathway to being reduced?

RE fossil fuel subsidies: The government writes that it is “committed to phase out or rationalize inefficient fossil fuel subsidies”.  Let’s unpack this for a minute: what distinguishes an inefficient subsidy from an efficient one, for fossil fuels whose combustion generates negative externalities?  The social cost of carbon is already higher than the government’s timid backstop price on carbon.  And what does “rationalize” mean for something that is inefficient?  A more honest sentence in the budget would have been to “phase out some portion of fossil fuel subsidies” and without a sense of proportionality.

RE growing nuclear: Budget 2022 commits to increasing nuclear subsidies.  A goal of a “net-zero electricity system by 2035” includes $250 million to support “inter-provincial electricity transmission projects and small modular reactors” and $69.9 million for research to “minimize waste generated from these reactors” and to “support the creation of a fuel supply chain” with $50.7 million and “$0.5 million ongoing” for the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission to “build the capacity to regulate small modular reactors”.  More significantly the budget announced that they will broaden the role of the Canada Infrastructure Bank so that its $10 billion Growth Plan can include buying small modular reactors.

RE protected areas: The budget re-affirmed a commitment to “protecting 25 per cent of our land, oceans, and freshwater by 2025, while working towards protecting 30 per cent by 2030”.  Questions remain about how the parcels of land and water will be chosen: will they be the leftovers, or will they be scarce landscapes that will be protected despite their commercial potential for fuels or critical minerals or infrastructure?  No idea. In a related measure, the budget proposes to establish an “Old Growth Nature Fund” that will somehow do something for “British Columbia’s iconic old growth forests” as long as the BC government also spends money to somehow do something for old growth forests.

RE “climate disclosures” of financial institutions: The budget notes that the regulatory agency OSFI will consult with institutions on “using a phased approach” starting in 2024 to report on “climate-related financial risks” which will mean an expectation that financial institutions would “collect and assess information on climate risks and emissions from their clients”.  They also note that federally-regulated pension plans would be required to disclose environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations.  This could be interesting but raises questions about reporting frameworks.

RE “zero emission” electric vehicles: Budget 2022 proposes $1.7 billion to broaden the vehicles that are eligible for subsidies, including “more vans, trucks, and SUVs”.  Even though electric vehicles might have zero tailpipe emissions, there are still emissions from generating the electricity to charge their batteries.  And the potential for rebound effects of more driving (and congestion) from electric vehicles.  By 2035 the government hopes that electricity will be “net zero” which doesn’t mean it will be exactly 0, but any carbon from generating electricity will have to be captured.  And there’s a conflicting reality in Ontario: the Independent Electricity System Operator is forecasting an increase in carbon emissions over the coming decades, undoing the progress made over the last decade.

RE tree planting: For those of you keeping track, Budget 2022 revealed that Canada has planted 30 million of the government’s prior commitment of 2 billion trees by 2031.  I’m not sure where these trees are, and what was on the land before the trees were planted.  And I can’t envision how the government will plant another 219 million trees per year in each of the next 9 years.

Most eye-opening statistic: “28 per cent of filers with gross income above $400,000 pay an average federal PIT [Personal Income Tax] rate of 15 per cent or less”.  That’s astounding, considering that a federal marginal rate of 15% applied last year to incomes of under $48,535.

Budgets signal what the government finds important and how it wants to communicate importance.  Words and expressions are carefully chosen, as a tip of the hat to people and interest groups who can easily search PDF documents without having to flip through all its pages.  Even though I flipped through the pages, I also searched for words that I found hard to find and I also searched for curious ones that I ran into.  Here’s what everyone will find: 31 instances of “invasion”, 8 instances of “menstrual”, 8 of “lunar gateway”, 0 of “sustainable development”, and 334 instances of “grow…”.

Shifting to Neutral Ecological economics for a carbon-neutral economy

Thanks for your interest in my presentation to City of Stratford’s Energy and Environment Advisory Committee, in collaboration with Climate Momentum.

Here’s a link to a PDF version of the slides I presented (with references)

If you’d like to chat with me, please book time with me.

If you want to email me, email my first name followed by

If you’d like to digitally follow me: Linked-In and my reluctant signup to Twitter.

Some other links you might be interested in:

Best wishes.

– Eric

Ecological economics for a just and green recovery

Thanks for your interest in my C2C conference presentation.

Here’s a link to a PDF version of the slides I presented (with references)

If you’d like to chat with me, please book time with me.

If you want to email me, email my first name followed by

If you’d like to digitally follow me: Linked-In and my reluctant signup to Twitter.

Some other links you might be interested in:

Best wishes.

– Eric

Discover this online training program

Empower yourself by learning about economics that is relevant to environmental issues.

Learn at your own pace, in your preferred setting, with specially developed video tutorials and quizzes that support case-based learning, with live one-on-one coaching from economist Eric Miller.

This program is organized around six modules. Each module contains instructional videos, a quiz, a case with questions for you to answer, and two video testimonials from other economists about the case.

After you complete each module, you book time with Eric's online calendar to meet by video (or by phone) to review your answers to the case and quiz questions and any other matters you wish to discuss. Then you will be able to access the next module’s content.

The curriculum is focused on Canada but is also relevant for the USA and other OECD countries.

1: Markets in an economic and environmental context

2: Valuation of unpriced environmental benefits and burdens

3: Behaviour and how it can be affected

4: Trade-offs to be reconciled in public decisions

5: Measures of economic progress and sustainability

6: Transformation of economic policy and priorities

You do not need any previous training in economics. If you already have training or experience, you will still learn from this training. A classroom version of this curriculum benefited learners who had no training in economics and also some learners who called themselves economists.

You need an internet-enabled device with a minimum of a tablet-sized monitor. You need an adequate internet connection to allow you to watch streaming videos from our website. To meet the instructor online, you need a webcam and microphone if they are not already built into your device; if you do not have both, you can meet via telephone.

You can start whenever you wish, and finish within a few weeks or months.

You should budget a minimum of 1.5 hours to enjoy the content of each module on your own, plus half an hour for your online meeting with the instructor Eric Miller. You book time with the instructor's online calendar in any of his 50 weekly bookable timeslots.

Ideally you should setup regular weekly or biweekly times in your schedule to stay on track.

“I very much enjoyed the course, the modules were full of useful info and Eric was very patient and helpful (including following up with supporting resources) to assist me on my ecological economics journey.” -TB

“Especially beneficial for those with no economic background – provides a solid basis and thinking.” -SZ

“It is well formatted and critically shares current knowledge. Eric was very positive, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable.” - LA

“I’ve been waiting for something like this for a long time.” -SB

“I highly recommend this insightful training program...” (read the rest on Linkedin)

Automated signup is on hold while Eric focuses on a derivative training project.

If you would like to join by special request, please contact the instructor Eric Miller by e-mailing him at eric followed by

During 2017-2021, 59 people enrolled in this online training program, while another 160 people enrolled in its precursor in-person program that was hosted by Sustainability Network from 2015-2018.

If you are already enrolled click here to login to your learning portal.