News release

June 4, 2021 – Ottawa, Ontario

This week, Canadians from coast to coast to coast are marking Canadian Environment Week, culminating in virtual events on June 5, World Environment Day. It is our opportunity to appreciate our abundant natural environment and to reflect on the positive actions we can take to leave a cleaner, healthier planet for generations to come. Protecting our natural environment and taking action to fight climate change will bolster our economic recovery from COVID-19 and create good quality middle class jobs for Canadians in industries like energy efficiency, clean technology, and STEM. 

That is why today, the Minister of Middle-Class Prosperity and Associate Minister of Finance, the Honourable Mona Fortier, on behalf of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, announced the Government of Canada will invest up to $54.9 million in 58 community-based climate action initiatives from across Canada. These projects, funded by the Climate Action and Awareness Fund, will build capacity and awareness for local action on climate change. Each community focused project will support Canada’s climate goals, including achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

Among the recipients from today’s announcement, are Colleges and Institutes Canada, which will receive $5.3 million to help colleges and universities across the country reduce emissions by implementing climate plans on campus and sharing best practices for green buildings.

Among post-secondary institutions receiving funding is Ryerson University, which will receive $1.7 million to engage young Canadians on post secondary campuses and in communities to find local solutions to reach net-zero by 2050. Lakehead University will receive $135,000 to help prepare Canadian youth, particularly young adults in Northwestern Ontario, for leadership roles in climate action and in environmental careers. The Governing Council of the University of Toronto will receive $6 million to support climate action by Canada’s health care community to encourage the move toward a sustainable system.

Local projects, like those announced today, will help Canada achieve its goals to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 to 45 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 and reach net-zero emissions by 2050, while creating good middle class jobs.


“Investing in climate action is an important part of our Canada’s plan to build a clean, inclusive, and resilient economy when this pandemic is behind us. These made-in-Canada solutions to climate change are key to encouraging local action on climate change and supporting our local economies while working toward our national goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. On World Environment Day, I want to thank all of our innovators who are contributing to this important national effort!”
– The Honourable Mona Fortier, Minister of Middle-Class Prosperity and Associate Minister of Finance

“This climate action project is a great way to encourage post secondary students to address climate change in their local communities. These initiatives are essential in Canada’s development of a sustainable net-zero emissions economy. Thanks to everyone who brought this project to fruition. It is a solid step towards reaching Canada’s climate change goals.”
– Marci Ien, Member of Parliament for Toronto Centre

“I’d like to thank Environment and Climate Change Canada for providing funding to support the launch of the Lake Superior Climate Action Field School. Led by two of our Canada Research Chairs, Dr. Lindsay Galway and Dr. Charles Levkoe, the Field School will engage a diverse group of young Canadians in hands-on, experiential learning to catalyze community-based climate action across the Lake Superior Watershed.”
– Dr. Andrew P. Dean, Vice-President, Research and Innovation, Lakehead University

“Ryerson University has a long-standing record of connecting to the community, and combining theory with practice. Through this project, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make climate change a more salient and actionable issue for a large community of young Canadians, and for their local communities.”
–  Mohamed Lachemi, President and Vice-Chancellor, Ryerson University

“The University of Toronto is delighted to have the opportunity to be part of this important funding program; we look forward to leveraging our resources, and the resources of our university and NGO partners, to support climate action and awareness across Canada’s healthcare community.”
– Fiona A. Miller, PhD, Director, Centre for Sustainable Health Systems, University of Toronto

“By training students with the green skills needed to build a net-zero economy, by supporting innovation and by acting locally to reduce their own environmental footprint, colleges and institutes are already showing exemplary leadership. Thanks to the Climate Action and Awareness funding, we will be able to leverage the strength and full potential of our members to deliver lasting change and help reduce our overall GHG emissions through our new project entitled Massive Impact.”
– Denise Amyot, President and CEO, Colleges and Institutes Canada

Quick facts

  • The funding for these projects comes from the $206-million Climate Action and Awareness Fund, which is funded by the Environmental Damages Fund and the Climate Action Fund.
  • The Climate Action and Awareness Fund was created in great part from the historic $196.5 million fine paid by Volkswagen, to the Environmental Damages Fund, for circumventing Canada’s environmental protection laws.
  • The $196.5 million from Volkswagen is the largest environment fine in Canadian history – it is 26 times greater than the second-largest environmental fine.
  • The Climate Action and Awareness Fund has three main priorities: support youth climate awareness and community-based climate action, support climate research at Canadian think tanks and in academia, and advance climate science and technology.
  • Projects that are funded under the community-based climate action priority aim to develop knowledge, tools, and/or skills that engage communities in climate action in order to help support Canada’s climate goals, including net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

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