Wrong time to increase the carbon tax

Even a global pandemic that puts people out of work and creates serious uncertainty couldn’t keep the federal government from forcing a carbon tax increase on several provinces.

Despite all of the adversity facing Canadians right now, especially those from Alberta and Saskatchewan, the feds wouldn’t do the right thing and delay the higher carbon tax.  

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The price of Western Canada Select has been worth less than a four-litre jug of milk at times in the last few weeks, and the price of West Texas Intermediate cost less than a meal for four at a fast food restaurant’s drive-thru, but we still received that carbon tax increase. 

And even though we keep hearing about the environmental benefits of modern farming practices, farmers are still getting another government hurdle for their operations.

The government could have done the right thing and delayed the imposition of the carbon tax increase, until we’re in a more fiscally sound position. The last thing that oil and gas, mining and agriculture need right now is higher taxes. 

And the last thing that Canadians as a whole need right now is a jump in taxes that takes more money out of our pockets. 

Yes, a lot of people are self-isolating or in quarantine or working from home. They aren’t going to events or meetings, and they don’t have to take their children to school or programs they’re involved with. 

But they still have to go out once in a while for groceries and other essential supplies.

And the cost of those groceries and supplies will be higher because the carbon tax is going up, and it costs more to get everything to market. 

There are still a lot of people who work in businesses that the government has classified as essential. They need to find a way to get to work. Some have long commutes. They’re now going to pay more to provide these essential services. 

It’s particularly galling that those who work in the trucking industry, who are doing their best to keep the country going right now by transporting these essential items, face a higher cost of doing business.

And it’s frustrating that farmers, who are also an essentially service for this country, get nailed with this higher cost of doing business right before seeding begins. As stated previously, some of the strongest practices you’ll find to reduce climate change are being employed by producers who are always looking for ways to improve their operations. 

Worst of all, though, is this will represent one more expense for those who are unemployed or laid off. When they’re wondering how they’ll pay the bills and cover the costs of living with a reduced or eliminated paycheque, now they have to worry about an additional higher cost. 

It’s not a lot of money, but it’s death by a thousand small increases. 

Generally the federal government has done a pretty good job of navigating Canada through the COVID-19 pandemic. They’ve been heeding the advice of medical community and scientists before making decisions, and learning from the mistakes of others.

They also haven’t tried to downplay this situation like other world leaders, who erred when they tried to treat this like it wasn’t a big deal. 

Ultimately we’ll see whether the support for small businesses and out of work Canadians will be sufficient, or if more is needed, or if it will get to those who need it the most in a timely manner.

But when it comes to the carbon tax increase, the best thing the government could have done in the short-term was to shelve it until the pandemic’s impact on Canada has eased, and until we know whether the carbon tax can even withstand constitutional challenges.

The best thing the feds could do in the long-term, especially now, would be to scrap the carbon tax, and announce a fleet of incentives and spending measures that would reward innovation and create jobs for those who are coming up with ideas to combat climate change.

But when it came to the simplest move, the feds missed the boat.

© Copyright Estevan Mercury

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