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Carbon tax on the rise

Federal levy increases to $40 per tonne in 2021, up to $170 per tonne in 2030 

ATHABASCA - The federal government’s plan to reduce greenhouse emissions by 40 percent below 2005 levels in the next 10 years, partly by raising the carbon tax up to $170 per tonne, is not sitting very well in Alberta. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson made the announcement at a press conference Dec. 11. 

“There are still places in this country that want pollution to be free again,” Trudeau said. “We are going to continue to increase the price on pollution and give more money back to Canadians and their families.” 

The Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act came into effect at $20 per tonne in 2019 and increases by $10 per tonne until it reaches $50 per tonne in 2022. It will then rise by $15 per tonne per year until 2030. 

Most of the revenue collected through the carbon tax is returned through consumer rebates, which will also grow as the tax gets higher. The federal plan is imposed on provinces that do not have their own plans that meet the federal guidelines, including Alberta. In February, an Alberta judge ruled the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act was unconstitutional, but others around the country have said the opposite. The case is now scheduled to go to the Supreme Court of Canada. 

In the meantime, many Alberta politicians are crying foul, including Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche MLA Laila Goodridge, whose constituency counts part of the northern section of Athabasca County as its own. 

She called on all Alberta politicians to condemn the plan to increase the carbon tax over the next decade, saying it will adversely affect Albertans in particular, specifically tens-of-thousands of energy workers in her constituency. 

“Ottawa lied. As a result, nearly 100,000 Alberta jobs could disappear. It goes without saying that all politicians in our province should join together and stand against the Trudeau government’s plan to jack-up the carbon tax by 467 per cent. Ultimately, we are all on Team Alberta,” said Goodridge in a press release, adding the Alberta government is working successfully with industry on emissions management. 

“Our province is fighting its way out of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. The last thing we need to worry about right now is carbon tax trickery from Ottawa that will raise the cost of everything. The time is now to raise our voices as elected officials and send a clear message to the Trudeau Liberals that we will not accept this.” 

By 2030, the increase will see drivers paying about 38 cents more per litre. Home heating with natural gas and propane will also increase substantially. 

About 90 per cent of the revenues from the carbon tax are returned to consumers through Climate Action Incentive payments, while the other 10 per cent is used to support small businesses, schools, universities, municipalities, and Indigenous groups, according to the Government of Canada website. 

In 2021, rebates will be distributed using 2020 personal income tax returns. A single adult can expect $490, while the second adult in a couple, or the first child of a single parent, can expect another $245. Additional children add another $123 to that total.  

So, for example, a family of four can expect a refund of $981, while the cost of the carbon tax is projected to be about $598 per household. 

If the plan to raise the tax up to $170 per tonne goes through by 2020, the government says consumers can expect quarterly payments totalling $1,621 throughout the year for single adults; another $811 for the second adult in a couple; and $405 for children.