Small firms to pay al­most half of the fed­eral car­bon tax; get seven per cent back

The Southwest Booster - - OPINION -

The ma­jor­ity of small busi­nesses in Saskatchewan, Man­i­toba, On­tario and New Brunswick op­pose the fed­eral car­bon back­stop plan, which is set to come into ef­fect this April in the four prov­inces, says the Cana­dian Fed­er­a­tion of In­de­pen­dent Busi­ness (CFIB). The plan un­fairly bur­dens small busi­nesses, which will con­trib­ute al­most 50 per cent of car­bon tax rev­enues along with mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, uni­ver­si­ties, school boards and hos­pi­tals, but will re­ceive just seven per cent back in the form of re­bates and grants.

“With con­sumers re­ceiv­ing 90 per cent of the ‘Cli­mate Ac­tion In­cen­tive’ pay­ments and many large emit­ters re­ceiv­ing car­bon tax ex­emp­tions, small busi­nesses are left hold­ing the bag,” said CFIB pres­i­dent Dan Kelly.

“The govern­ment’s tech­ni­cal doc­u­ments state that small busi­nesses are ex­pected to sim­ply pass their added costs down to con­sumers, but 80 per cent of small firms in the four prov­inces re­port they will be able to pass on less than one quar­ter of the new costs,” Kelly added. “In fact, over half of small firms said they will have to eat the en­tire new cost, on top of the seven years of CPP pre­mium in­creases al­ready un­der­way. These costs will ham­string their abil­ity to com­pete, and para­dox­i­cally, in­vest in emis­sions-re­duc­ing so­lu­tions.”

In its new sur­vey of small busi­nesses in the four prov­inces where the fed­eral back­stop will ap­ply, CFIB found that an over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity (87 per cent) op­pose the govern­ment’s car­bon tax plan (96 per cent in Saskatchewan). Ad­di­tion­ally:

- 84 per cent of small busi­nesses are al­ready tak­ing ac­tion to re­duce their car­bon foot­print.

- 81 per cent of Saskatchewan small busi­ness own­ers say that the added cost of the car­bon tax will make it harder for them to fur­ther in­vest in re­duc­ing their emis­sions (71 per cent na­tion­ally).

- 87 per cent in Saskatchewan be­lieve the cur­rent re­bate plan, where 90 per cent of re­bates will be al­lo­cated to house­holds, is un­fair (83 per cent na­tion­ally).

- 86 per cent in Saskatchewan would like to get back the same share in grants and re­bates as they pay in car­bon taxes (84 per cent na­tion­ally).

- 73 per cent of Saskatchewan small busi­ness own­ers say a fed­er­ally im­posed car­bon tax will make their busi­ness less com­pet­i­tive.

The Govern­ment of Saskatchewan’s court chal­lenge on whether a fed­eral car­bon tax is con­sti­tu­tional will be heard this week.

“We com­mend the pro­vin­cial govern­ment for stand­ing up for Saskatchewan by ag­gres­sively op­pos­ing the fed­er­ally im­posed car­bon tax and with 91 per cent of Saskatchewan busi­ness own­ers sup­port­ing the le­gal chal­lenge, en­trepreneurs will be closely watch­ing the de­ci­sion,” said Mar­i­lyn Braun-pol­lon, CFIB’S Vi­cepres­i­dent, Prairie & Agri-busi­ness.

“Small busi­ness own­ers care about the en­vi­ron­ment and have al­ready been tak­ing steps to re­duce their emis­sions. How­ever, the fed­eral car­bon tax plan pun­ishes them with new costs in­stead of pro­vid­ing them the tools they need to fur­ther re­duce their car­bon foot­print,” con­cluded Kelly. “We are strongly urg­ing the fed­eral govern­ment not to pro­ceed with this un­fair and un­af­ford­able plan, and find bet­ter ways to work with prov­inces to re­duce emis­sions without neg­a­tively af­fect­ing small busi­nesses.” Editor:

Re­cently the City of Swift Cur­rent has stated it is re­view­ing our in­ner city tran­sit. All around the world peo­ple are strug­gling to cope with the im­pacts of cli­mate change and ex­treme pol­lu­tion, so much so that some places are be­com­ing un­in­hab­it­able caus­ing peo­ple to be­come refugees.

Our ve­hi­cle based so­ci­ety is a huge con­trib­u­tor to these con­di­tions. Cut­ting pub­lic tran­sit is the last thing we should be con­sid­er­ing. If any­thing we should be work­ing to im­prove and ex­pand the sys­tem re­gard­less of whether it is cur­rently mak­ing money.

There are many cities around the world that are con­sid­er­ing ban­ning ve­hi­cles. Some put re­stric­tions on your li­cense as to the days of the week you are al­lowed to drive, and oth­ers have started hav­ing days where ve­hi­cles are banned. We have be­come at­tached to our con­ve­niences, for bet­ter or worse. But we have to face re­al­ity and rec­og­nize the true grav­ity of the cri­sis we are in on this planet.

It is not okay to point at other coun­tries de­fi­cien­cies to make our­selves feel bet­ter. Most of the pol­lu­tion in the Third World coun­tries is due to the man­u­fac­tur­ing of goods for First World con­sump­tion. Send­ing money to those in cri­sis only makes the con­di­tions bear­able enough to keep the sys­tem of op­pres­sion in place. But noth­ing will help those in need more than chang­ing the waste­ful and ma­te­ri­al­is­tic ways in which we have be­come ac­cus­tomed to lov­ing.

Buses are an im­por­tant piece in tran­si­tion­ing into a more sus­tain­able and ful­fill­ing way of life, and they do not be­long on the chop­ping block.

The pro­vin­cial govern­ment should not only be re­in­stat­ing the STC, but en­cour­ag­ing mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties to do what they can to re­duce un­nec­es­sary ve­hi­cle use, whether through pub­lic tran­sit, bi­cy­cle lanes, help­ing peo­ple or­ga­nize car­pool­ing in their neigh­bour­hoods, or en­cour­age walk­ing.

It’s time we get se­ri­ous about so­lu­tions in­stead of pre­tend­ing noth­ing is wrong.

Maria Rose Le­wans - Swift Cur­rent

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