SC: Keeping Ontario's Air Clean and Creating Prosperity
Thursday, June 6, 2019
In my job, I have the great fortune to meet a lot of people.
One person who left a lasting impact on me was a young boy named Matthew, who is among the approximately six per cent of Ontarians who live with asthma. That adds up to roughly 850,000 people across the province.
People like Matthew have a keen interest in clean air, and when there’s smog, the best thing they can do is stay indoors. On a warm summer’s day that’s a hard sell to a young person who wants to be active with their friends by riding their bike, going places, or doing things that children do – outside.
In 2005, that would have meant that for 53 days, when the province of Ontario issued smog advisories, a choice of staying indoors or risking a trip to the emergency room with an asthma attack had to be made. That’s a lot of days indoors. Why should letting a child play outside be such a hard decision for a parent?
I first met Matthew in 2016 when he came to the Bruce Power site to attend an event we hosted with Asthma Canada. He spoke about living with asthma and the positive impacts on his life thanks to the improvement in air quality in Ontario. The number of smog days in 2016 had dropped to one, and the two years prior to that there had been zero.
The question you might be asking yourself is what changed? Well the answer is a pretty simple one – Ontario replaced coal with nuclear power.
In 2003, approximately a quarter of our electricity came from coal and that number is now zero — a milestone met in April 2014 with the assistance of Bruce Power, which provided 70 per cent of the energy the province needed to achieve this goal, when it returned four Bruce Power units to service between 2003 and ’12.
The near extinction of smog days since April 2014 is no coincidence, and it is a source of great pride for all of us at Bruce Power to have played such a significant role in helping boost the quality of life for the people of Ontario.
Coal phase out also realized economic benefits for Ontarians through health care cost avoidance. According to an Ontario Ministry of Energy study, the benefits of coal phase out would amount to about $70 billion through 2040. Global energy demands can be met with a combination of nuclear and renewables, which would sharply decrease greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality, boost quality of life and benefit economies.
The same study found, through 2040, Ontario will annually avoid more than 25,000 emergency room visits, 20,000 hospital admissions, and a staggering 8.1 million fewer minor illnesses with the shutdown of coal. This is estimated to have an annual financial benefit of $2.6 billion.
Global energy demands can be met with a combination of nuclear and renewables, which would sharply decrease greenhouse gas emissions, improving air quality and boosting quality of life while keeping electricity needs affordable.
Clean air does not need to come at the expense of the economy and jobs. By extending the life of the Bruce Power facility to 2064, the annual economic impact of will create and sustain 22,000 direct and indirect jobs annually in Ontario, and provide $4 billion in annual economic benefit through the direct and indirect spending in operational equipment, supplies, materials and labour income across the province.
Over the next 15 years, as Bruce Power renews its fleet through its Major Component Replacement Project, additional economic benefits of 5,000 direct and indirect jobs will occur annually, while another $1 billion will be invested in the province’s economy through equipment, supplies and materials. There is no other single, well-established project, facility or infrastructure program in Ontario that will have such a significant economic impact.
Canada’s nuclear power source will continue to play a key role in meeting our energy needs, boosting our economy, creating medical isotopes that save lives, and, perhaps most importantly, improving our air quality to help people like Matthew.
Simply stated, we power more for less.
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