Carbon tax draws questions, concerns following release of Manitoba budget
Published Monday, March 12, 2018 6:09PM CST
Last Updated Monday, March 12, 2018 6:11PM CST
The carbon tax will cost you more, but that's not the only reason the Manitoba government's plan is drawing criticism.
The government has promised in its 2018 budget that the value of the carbon tax will be returned to Manitobans through tax reductions over the next four years.
That's leading to questions about how the plan will reduce emissions.
The federal government is requiring carbon emissions be taxed.
The Manitoba government said its plan is better for the environment and the economy than the federal approach.
Drivers in Manitoba will pay an extra 5.3 cents a litre for gasoline and an additional 4.7 cents per cubic metre for natural gas to heat homes.
According to budget estimates, it will cost couples with two children an additional $300 a year, couples without children an additional $235, and a single person will pay an additional $195.
The government will collect $248 million in revenue from the carbon tax but will spend $156 million to provide savings to Manitobans through the basic personal exemption.
Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce president Loren Remillard questions how the rest of the carbon tax money is being spent beyond the tax breaks promised in the budget.
"The whole plan is designed for one reason, that's to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Remillard. “Yet what we see today is nothing that's going to really further that objective and muddies the water as related to our tax system.”
Driver George Ginther said he’s not sure if the carbon tax will change driving behaviours.
"If you can afford a vehicle, you can afford the gas. That's kind of the way I look at it,” said Ginther.
The government expects its $25 per tonne dollar carbon tax will reduce emissions by 2.46 megatonnes by 2022, despite the tax savings the government has promised to Manitobans through the basic personal exemption.
"We believe that price at the pump will have effect. At the same time we can provide offsetting measures,” said Finance Minister Cameron Friesen. “We know that the carbon tax isn't the only cost on the rise for Manitobans."
The budget says a $102 million Conservation Trust Fund will be established from budgetary savings.
The Trust will be managed by the Winnipeg Foundation to provide financial support to achieve the goals and objectives of the province’s climate strategy.
Manitoba Trucking Association’s executive director Terry Shaw said it’s unclear how the money will be utilized to reduce greenhouse gases.
“It appears very much to be directed at conservation entities – wetlands, natural areas and again all worthy of support, but not to my knowledge, anything that will significantly reduce greenhouse gas,” said Shaw.
Manitoba Electric Vehicle Association president Robert Elms hopes his organization will qualify for funding to establish a network of fast charge stations for electric cars.
“We think it's a step in the right direction,” said Elms. “We're looking for more details of course."
Friesen said he can’t speculate on future investments to the fund.
“We know that we’re doing something very significant for green in this jurisdiction,” he said. “We know at the same time we’re doing something very significant for taxpayers and ratepayers and along the way we’ll continue to listen as we build this process and these projects together.”
Agricultural emissions will be exempt from the carbon tax.
Other business owners can expect to pay more because of the carbon tax.
“There are so many unanswered questions about the carbon tax,” said Jonathan Alward with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. “This year is looking like an actual net tax increase for businesses and residents. That’s a huge concern for our members going forward.”