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Kootenay politicians challenge carbon tax increase

Carbon tax rates up as of April 1
Carbon pricing went up in B.C. and across Canada as of April 1, affecting carbon taxes on fuel at the pump, home heating and more. Trevor Crawley photo.

Kootenay politicians are speaking out as carbon tax rates have gone up as of April 1 across B.C., most visibly at the fuel pumps by roughly three cents a litre, but also affecting natural gas, propane, aviation fuel and more.

It’s a complicated discourse in B.C., as the province has had a carbon tax program since 2008, while the federal government implemented a carbon pricing program in 2019 for provinces that don’t meet the federal standards.

Last week, B.C. environment minister George Heyman confirmed that the province is maintaining the $15 increase, meaning that the 2024 rate per tonne is up to $80 from last year’s $65 per tonne.

The carbon tax rate increase has been rebuked by opposition parties at the provincial and federal level.

In the Kootenays, Conservative MP Rob Morrison noted in a recent interview that there is a provincial election coming up in the fall that could impact the future of B.C.’s carbon tax program, while also railing against the federal government’s mandated carbon pricing system.

“Our riding, of course, we’re agricultural so we get hit harder than a lot of the cities … talking to Top Crop, they’re freight charges for freight is going up April 1 [by] 43 per cent,” Morrison said, adding that consumers for all types of goods and services are going to shoulder higher costs because of the carbon tax.

“Where does it end? Where does affordability come in when you’re talking about fresh food, whether it’s poultry, whether it’s our dairy farmers, whether it’s our ranchers? Everything is just going up increasingly so much that it’s just unaffordable.

“And what has it done? What has the carbon tax done? I don’t see any change at all.”

In a Facebook video, Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka said the province cannot eliminate B.C.’s carbon pricing program as the federal government will impose it’s own framework, but pledged BC United will cut the provincial carbon tax from fuel and home heating, while also eliminating the fuel tax.

While not implicitly tied to the carbon tax program, the province’s climate action tax credit is designed to offset the financial impact of carbon pricing.

Under the tax credit program, singles qualify for the full rebate if they earn less than $39,115 in after-tax income and families if they earn less than $50,170. The rebate drops by two per cent of the income above the threshold until the credit becomes zero. Singles earning above $61,465 in after-tax income and households earning more $83,695 receive zero.

While these thresholds will rise on July 1, 43 per cent of the three million eligible households will receive the full amount in 2024-2025, just as it was the case in 2023-24. Overall, 65 per cent of all taxed households will receive full or partial rebates, with 1.3 million receiving full rebates.

An open letter signed by hundreds of economists across Canada supports carbon pricing as the “least-cost way to reduce emissions” while also refuting common criticism of carbon pricing programs.

The letter says carbon pricing has had a “negligible” effect on inflation, and that Canada’s’ greenhouse gas emissions have fallen by nine per cent since 2019.

With files from Wolfgang Depner

Trevor Crawley

About the Author: Trevor Crawley

Trevor Crawley has been a reporter with the Cranbrook Townsman and Black Press in various roles since 2011.
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