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What would you do with $12 billion?

Bradley Hughes

June 6, 2018

Trudeau’s government has committed to buying the existing Kinder Morgan pipeline and to spending whatever it costs to try to construct the twinning of the pipeline. They will spend $4.5 billion on the existing pipeline. On top of that, the construction costs to complete the pipeline is currently estimated at an additional $7.4 billion.

The Liberals are spending this money to protect oil company profits, trample Indigenous rights over their land and to fuel climate change. But there are much better ways to spend the $12 billion Kinder Morgan hand out. If your priorities were reconciliation, improving people’s lives and fighting climate change, there are many better ways to spend $12 billion.

Here are a few.

For $ 1 billion you could provide home energy retrofits for 60,000 homes, and create 16,000 person years of employment. This alone is more than the likely number of jobs created by the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion.

There are 174 drinking water advisories in Indigenous communities right now across what is currently called Canada. To provide safe drinking water in these communities (on par with what is commonly available in settler communities) it would cost $3.2 Billion. This would create around 25,000 person – years of employment.

There are 3600 homeless people in the greater Vancouver area. It is still just possible to buy a new one-bedroom apartment in Vancouver for $500,000. We could buy everyone without a home a new condo for $1.8 billion dollars. If we spent the money on constructing new buildings, the cost would be less, and we would create 16,000 person-years of employment.

A high speed rail link between Calgary and Edmonton would cost $3.7 billion, it would cost $2 billion for one between Vancouver and Seattle. This would decrease pollution and carbon emissions from cars, decrease deaths and injuries on the highways and create nearly 100,000 person years of employment.

All of that would create more than ten times as many jobs as the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion and still leave you with $300 million to spend on other projects.

If you were to spend the $12 billion on a single project, you could cover tuition fees for one year for the two million post-secondary students in Canada. The Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) provides a monthly non-taxable benefit to Old Age Security (OAS) pension recipients who have a low income and are living in Canada. Nearly 2 million low income seniors access this benefit million seniors for a total of just under $11 billion. So this money would be enough to double the GIS for two million low income seniors.

According to the Canadian federation of Students, the total Canada Student Loan debt for students is over $19 billion. This is half again as much as Trudeau wants to spend on the pipeline, but 50 % cost over runs are certainly possible.

The Indigenous-led climate movement has forced Kinder Morgan to abandon their pipeline project. We can build on this victory to defeat Trudeau. We need to build on that victory to create a movement for a just transition that can spend money on people not profits.

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