Na­tional car­bon pric­ing plan faces skep­ti­cism, sur­vey finds

43% of Cana­di­ans say they dis­ap­prove, while 35% un­aware of de­tails


The ma­jor­ity of Cana­di­ans ei­ther don’t ap­prove or are not aware of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s car­bon pric­ing plan, sug­gests a new sur­vey by Fo­rum Re­search. The re­sults were based on a Jan. 7 tele­phone poll of 1226 ran­domly se­lected Cana­di­ans over the age of 18.

Forty-three per cent of those sur­veyed said they dis­ap­prove and an ad­di­tional 35 per cent said they were not aware of the de­tails of the pric­ing plan. The num­bers did not change much when the pric­ing plan was called a “car­bon tax.”

“No mat­ter what it seems to be called, Cana­di­ans are skep­ti­cal of the Feds’ car­bon pric­ing plan,” said Fo­rum pres­i­dent Lorne Bozi­noff.

The sur­vey does not mea­sure the rea­sons for the op­po­si­tion and lack of aware­ness.

The fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s car­bon price plan has two prongs:

A pric­ing sys­tem for heavy emit­ters in in­dus­tries like ce­ment and fer­til­izer pro­duc­tion. Com­pa­nies in these in­dus­tries get a set amount of emis­sions tax-free.

Firms that emit less than their in­dus­try al­lot­ment will re­ceive cred­its. Firms that emit more than their in­dus­try al­lot­ment can ei­ther buy cred­its from their com­peti­tors or pay the fed­eral tax.

A fuel tax on ev­ery­thing from avi­a­tion turbo fuel to gaso­line and com­bustible waste. This tax starts in April at $20 per tonne of green­house gas emis­sions. It is sched­uled to go up $10 per year un­til 2022, when it is $50 per tonne.

The plan ap­plies to On­tario, Saskatchewan, Man­i­toba and New Brunswick — ju­ris­dic­tions with­out their own car­bon price plan that meets fed­eral stan­dards.

Re­bates will be paid to peo­ple in af­fected prov­inces as “cli­mate ac­tion in­cen­tives” that should ex­ceed the ex­pected cost of the tax for house­holds, a gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial has said.

The av­er­age fam­ily of four in On­tario will re­ceive around $300 from Ot­tawa in 2019, a pay­out that ex­ceeds the ex­pected $240 cost in­creases as­so­ci­ated with the tax, the of­fi­cial said. The pay­outs will grow to $718 for a four-per­son house­hold in 2022, as the car­bon tax in­creases and the gov­ern­ment ex­pects av­er­age an­nual costs for a fam­ily of four to hit $564, the of­fi­cial had said.

Among the two-thirds of re­spon­dents who said they were aware of the plan, slightly more than half, or 54 per cent, dis­ap­prove. The poll’s mar­gin of er­ror is plus or mi­nus three per­cent­age points 19 times out of 20. Even with the new fed­eral car­bon pric­ing plan, ac­cord­ing to gov­ern­ment pro­jec­tions, Canada is not on track to meet its 2030 Paris Agree­ment emis­sions tar­get.


The fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s car­bon pric­ing plan has two prongs, one of which con­tains a pric­ing sys­tem for heavy emit­ters; the other is a fuel tax, which takes ef­fect in April.

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