In a move to help alleviate some financial strain from both families and small businesses across Ontario, the Ford government announced that it will be eliminating the carbon tax from natural gas rates, but critics of the announcement say it’s “short-sighted” that will harm the environment in the long-run.
Speaking at Troy’s Diner in Milton, Premier Doug Ford bashed the carbon tax, calling it “a big scam” and “the worst tax ever, anywhere.”
“It has nothing to do with protecting the environment, it just is one more way for the government to line its pockets and gouge the people of Ontario,” he said.
“It makes gas more expensive. It makes home heating more expensive. It makes everything more expensive. Driving your car and heating your home is not a luxury, it’s a necessity.”
According to the premier, eliminating the carbon tax from natural gas rates will save Ontario businesses about $285 a year.
“If you are a small business owner in Ontario, working hard to meet your payroll, we want to help,” Ford said.
“Today’s announcement is one way we’re helping you.”
Ontario Energy Minister Greg Rickford said families across the province should see their natural gas bills shrink by about $80 to $100 a year.
“We promised to deliver real relief for families and small business and I’m proud to say that’s exactly what we’re doing,” Ford said.
But not everyone is happy about Ford’s continued actions to dismantle cap-and-trade and eliminate the carbon tax.
“It is a short-sighted move and not a good one”
Sarah Buchanan, Program Manager at Environmental Defence
“A better way to put money into people’s pockets is to actually do it permanently and that’s by making homes and businesses more energy efficient so they actually use less natural gas in the first place and they also reduce their carbon pollution which fights against climate change,” said Sarah Buchanan, Clean Economy Program Manager with Environmental Defence.
In an interview with 680 NEWS, Buchanan said the Liberal programs that were scrapped by the PC government brought long-term cost savings for consumers, instead of short-term bill adjustments.
“They also brought in big reductions in carbon pollution to fight climate change, so it was a win-win way of reducing bills and also fighting climate change.”
The federal government has been working to put in place a national plan to fight climate change, which would replace Ontario’s cap-and-trade system with its own carbon levy.
“The premier and I talked directly about the fact that we have very clear mandates from the people who elected us,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the media last month after he sat down with the newly elected premier.
“The clear mandate that I got elected on was to bring in a national plan to fight climate change. That’s exactly what I’m going to do.”
The province has joined with the government of Saskatchewan in a court case challenging the federal government’s jurisdiction to impose a carbon price on provinces.
Alberta, B.C., Manitoba and Quebec all have carbon pricing plans that are expected to meet federal requirements for 2019, meaning the federal system will not be imposed there. Nova Scotia has a cap and trade system that will kick in next year that also could meet federal requirements.
Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick both have put forward carbon reduction plans that don’t include a new price on carbon and are therefore unlikely to meet the federal threshold. Newfoundland hasn’t yet made public its plan.
The carbon tax is scheduled to be eliminated from natural gas rates in Ontario starting Oct. 1.
With files from The Canadian Press