The government has released their plan to impose a Carbon Tax on all residents of Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and P.E.I., due to their not having a carbon pricing regime in place. It will start in January 1, 2019 – at $10/tonne, and increase to $50/tonne by 2023. The plan calls for “most” of the taxes collected to be sent back to residents directly, in the form of rebate cheques. In Ontario, this is estimated to amount to $12.50/person/month or $150/year. The rebates will only go to people, not businesses.
90% of the big greenhouse gas (GHG) emitting businesses have been exempted from paying the carbon tax (so they won’t be uncompetitive with the US and other markets that are not collecting this tax). The burden of the carbon tax will therefore rest on the shoulders of the low-income Canadians, seniors, single parents and the middle class, who can least afford it.
I feel that clearly, the estimated Ontario personal tax rebate of $150/year will not come close to what people are going to have to pay in higher taxes – at the pump and on essentially all fossil fuels, and indirectly on the higher cost of goods using these fuels. Canada has agreed to reduce our emissions to 30% below 2005 levels by 2030, a goal I firmly believe we must take collective action to achieve. There are however a number of measures that can be enacted by governments to help curb GHG emissions. Carbon taxes is only one and perhaps the least effective and with the significant downsides. The big problem with the government’s carbon tax plan, is that it won’t do what they say it will – reduce GHG emissions. British Columbia has had a carbon tax of $35/tonne for 5 years. Their emissions have not gone down; in fact, they’re going up.
The reduction of GHG is far more global and complex than simply taxing Canadians more while doing nothing to develop energy alternatives for the future. Climate change solutions transcend national policies and Canada contributes only 1.6% of total global GHG emissions. I agree we must do our part, but believe we can gradually reduce emissions without putting ineffective taxes on average Canadians.
My party will present our plan for GHG reduction before the next election. I know our opponents continue to criticize us for not releasing our approach but, rest assured, we will have a sensible and responsible approach that will put Canada on course to meet our objectives.