Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston is sounding the alarm bell to warn Nova Scotians the Trudeau government is threatening to pummel taxpayers with a $2,000 tax hike.
Four years ago, the Trudeau government unveiled its plan to tax Canadians to reduce global emissions. The feds declared that any province that refused to follow its lead would see a carbon tax imposed by Ottawa.
Former Nova Scotia premier Stephen McNeil convinced Trudeau to allow Nova Scotia to implement a cap-and-trade system rather than a carbon tax. While consumers in provinces with carbon taxes have seen gas taxes soar by 11 cents per litre, the cap-and-trade system has only forced gas prices up in Nova Scotia by a penny. Ottawa signed off on the plan.
But now the Trudeau government is flip-flopping. The Trudeau brain trust has now decided that Nova Scotians need to be soaked with a 13-cent per litre tax hike at the pumps. The federal carbon tax will push up home heating bills as well.
And that’s just the beginning. The Trudeau government plans to hike the carbon tax by $15 per tonne every year until 2030 and introduce a new “clean fuel standard.” That one-two punch will increase Nova Scotia gas prices by another 40 cents per litre.
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The Trudeau government has told the Houston government that unless it dramatically jacks up the tax burden on Nova Scotia taxpayers, it will impose the so-called federal backstop on Nova Scotia.
The government of Nova Scotia has calculated that the federal carbon tax would cost Nova Scotian households $2,000 by 2025 on average and $3,000 by 2030.
The Trudeau government claims that most families won’t see increased overall costs due to the federal government’s rebate program.
However, recent analysis from the Parliamentary Budget Officer shows that, in provinces with the federal carbon tax, the average family is losing hundreds of dollars a year.
That evidence blows a hole in the Trudeau government’s argument that higher taxes and a rebate scheme will somehow make Canadians better off.
Houston is right in saying that now is not the time for tax hikes. He has presented a plan that he says will reduce emissions without imposing higher taxes on Nova Scotians.
With over 50 per cent of households living paycheque to paycheque and 46 per cent of taxpayers $200 away from being unable to pay their bills, this federal tax hike could bankrupt families across Nova Scotia.
And while the Trudeau government will claim that all of this is being done in the name of the environment, Nova Scotia has achieved better results in reducing emissions than provinces like B.C.
British Columbia has had a carbon tax in place since 2008. Fourteen years later, the carbon tax still isn’t working. Despite B.C. having the highest carbon tax in the nation, the province’s emissions went up by 11 per cent between 2017 and 2019.
Contrast that with Nova Scotia’s successes that are leading the nation in reducing emissions.
The federal government’s overall target is for Canada to reduce its emissions by 40 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030. Nova Scotia has already reduced its emissions by over 36 per cent and is poised to beat that target.
The federal government should be asking Nova Scotia for advice, not punishing the province.
It’s time for Ottawa to recognize that increasing taxes is not the answer to reducing emissions. The feds need to cancel their plans to soak Nova Scotians with a needless carbon tax.
Jay Goldberg is the Ontario and Interim Atlantic Director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
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