Is the carbon tax an affordable way to fight climate change? Most Ontarians say “yes”.
With the election just weeks away, two-thirds of Ontarians say they support the federal government’s carbon tax policy as long as the money is rebated back to families and businesses, according to a new poll from Canadians for Clean Prosperity.
“Ontarians understand what is now undeniable – climate change is already here and needs to be addressed urgently if we don’t want the problem to get worse,” said Michael Bernstein, Executive Director of Clean Prosperity. “Fortunately, we have a policy in the carbon tax and rebate that can address climate change while also being affordable for Ontarians. We think that’s why the policy is supported by so many.”
The carbon tax and rebate is one of the core parts of the current federal government’s climate action plan. Under the carbon tax and rebate, there’s a fee on activities that emit greenhouse gases contributing to climate change. That includes gasoline, which will increase by 5 cents under the carbon tax, and home heating which will rise by $8 per month for the average family. The idea is to get people to reduce their carbon pollution by making those activities more expensive.
The proceed from the tax are then rebated back to households. 80% of Ontario households – all but the wealthiest 20% of Ontarians – are expected to receive back more in rebates than they pay in taxes, according to the Parliamentary Budget Office. An average family of 4, for example, received $307 as a credit on their taxes in April, which will more than offset the $240 in costs they are expected to face under the carbon tax.
“Every family gets a rebate whether you reduce your pollution or not. That means people who can’t make changes will still be able to afford any new costs from the tax, but anyone who does make changes will be rewarded for making conscious choices,” Bernstein said.
Although Ontarians support the policy, according to Clean Prosperity’s poll, the carbon tax has been at the center of a contentious political debate. Three of the major political parties support the policy as a core element of their climate change plans. But the federal Conservative party has vocally critiqued the tax, saying they would repeal it as their first act in office. Conservative leader Andrew Scheer has said the policy “is a scheme to increase government revenue.” Premier Ford has echoed this sentiment, taking the unusual step of mandating stickers on all gas pumps in Ontario to highlight the added costs of the carbon tax.
Despite the heated rhetoric, economists and business leaders widely agree that a carbon tax is the lowest-cost way to address climate change, especially when the money is sent back to households and businesses. Groups like the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Mining Association of Canada and even several oil sands companies like Suncor and Cenovus have come out in favor of a carbon price.
“Today, one of Canada’s largest industries is coming out in support of a carbon price, identifying it as the most effective and efficient means of driving emissions reductions and making real progress in the global fight against climate change,” notes Pierre Gratton, President, and CEO of the Mining Association of Canada
So, what will happen to the carbon tax?
“That’s up to voters,” says Bernstein, “in just a few weeks time, they’ll decide whether to support leaders who want to keep the best tool we have to fight climate change, or whether we’re going to go back to the drawing board.”