Campus Life
Justin Trudeau is looking to students at Humber and UofGH onward to tackle climate change
by Alena Blanes | October 29, 2018

“This is not about politics, or about the next election. This is about leadership.” – Justin Trudeau 

It was the surprise visit of the semester. On a regular Tuesday afternoon, faculty and students were greeted with an appearance by the Prime Minister himself, Justin Trudeau.

By now we all have heard of climate change. From films like Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth (2006), to videos of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, we cannot deny our earth is in danger.


The Carbon Tax Plan

The major takeaway from Trudeau’s presentation was an emphasis on the 2019 Carbon Tax plan and the urgency we need to tackle climate change.

He was joined by Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna, Finance Minister Bill Morneau, and Science Minister Kirsty Duncan

Starting January 2019, “it will no longer be free to pollute anywhere in Canada,” he said about the Liberal government’s new policy. So, what exactly is a carbon tax?

Trudeau’s Carbon Tax plan will target Saskatchewan. Manitoba, Ontario, and New Brunswick, the only four provinces who haven’t implemented plans to address climate change. These four jurisdictions make up about half of Canada’s population.

The carbon tax has been used in British Columbia and Quebec for over a decade with great success.

Starting January 2019, industries, companies, and households will be taxed $20 per tonne of carbon emissions which will rise to $50 per tonne by 2022. The Canadian government plans to bring in billions of dollars from the tax.

To help offset these costs, there will be rebates. Around 90% of it will go directly back to consumers in the province it was collected in, while the remaining 10% will be invested into small businesses, schools, and healthcare facilities.

The plan also includes a fuel tax that will kick in on April 1, 2019. Conveniently, the rebates will be received around this time.

The federal government will also be taking into consideration vehicle-dependent rural or Aboriginal communities, and those working in fishing and agricultural industries.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks to Humber college students in a circle


What does this mean for us?

The carbon tax carries price adjustments for daily luxuries across Canada. Including:

  • Up to 4.5 cent increase per litre on gasoline
  • 3.91 cent raise on natural gas
  • An increase in the cost of coal, aviation fuel, and diesel

But don’t stress just yet.

Taxpayers will get their rebate refunded yearly at tax time.

And not everyone will be getting the same amount–depending on where you live, household size, and your transit options, you may receive more money. Ontario households can expect around $300 while Saskatchewan families may see up to $600.

According to the University of Calgary Assistant Professor, Jennifer Winter, the carbon tax will be an excellent incentive to reduce our polluting behaviour. She also agrees this rebate should be enough to offset the costs from increased heating and natural gas prices.

These rebates will not apply to industrial emitters.


Millennials and climate change

As the Minister of Youth, Trudeau spends a lot of his time working with young people. During the Q&A session following his presentation, IGNITE President Monica Khosla posed a question for the PM.

“Millennials like myself have become a driving force for sustainability around the world. What advice would you give to young people, like me, to empower older generations to follow suit?” she asked.

Despite the plethora of stereotypes, millennials are in fact motivators for change. The Prime Minister agreed – saying, “millennials can no longer be ignored as a powerful force.” He stated we are the largest voting block out there, which means we have the potential to, “shape political discourse and economic discourse about the kinds of things that matter.”

IGNITE President Monica Khosla asks Justin Trudeau a question among various students and ministers


How Humber is making waves in sustainability

Humber College is one of the leading institutions in Canada for our sustainability efforts. In January 2018, Lakeshore was named the first fair-trade certified college in Canada. In October 2018, Humber was the first college to sign the Okanagan Charter, a stepping stone in its goal to be the healthiest campus in Canada.

Here on campus, the Office of Sustainability is doing incredible work to help generate awareness on sustainable behaviour and how students can act.

They have been responsible for the many re-fill stations, BikeShare program, and encouraging paperless classrooms across Guelph-Humber, Humber North, Lakeshore, and Orangeville. Check out their website for more information on their future initiatives and amazing resources for students and faculties.

In a Humber NEXTcast podcast, Taylor Buchanan shares the Sustainability Office’s recent campaign, Take Back The Tap, a pledge encouraging students to refuse single-use plastic. I urge you all to sign the pledge to help make our campus a little greener.


How can WE get involved?

If you’re looking to get involved and work towards a better planet, there are lots of easy ways to do so, right on campus. Here are 10 ways how:

  • Refuse single-use plastic straws, utensils, and plastic-wrapped food and drinks as much as possible
  • Give up bottled water and bring a reusable bottle instead
  • Bring your own lunch to campus
  • Go chemical cleaning, kitchen, and beauty product free
  • Try limiting your meat consumption
  • Choose local over imported goods
  • Reduce your consumption of fast fashion clothing
  • Invest in a reusable cutlery set (or bring your own from home)
  • Educate yourself on why sustainability matters
  • Start conversations in your classes, workplace, and home

For those who didn’t get a chance to catch the press conference, check out the highlights below:

Looking for more ways to be kind to Mother Earth? Check out our 6 ways to be more eco-friendly.

To keep up to date with all of the exciting IGNITE events happening at Humber and Guelph-Humber, be sure to follow us on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and Snapchat.