The carbon tax, not always progressive

The carbon tax is a progressive tax, even if the government does not return some to the less well-off taxpayers. This statement by Alberta Premier Rachel Notley is incorrect, the economists consulted said.

The Alberta leader was questioned at the meeting Tuesday by Jason Kenney, who said that “low-income people will continue to pay more for the energy they consume,” compared to the richest.

The premier said that the carbon tax “is actually progressive even without refunds (paid by the province to low-income households), because those who earn the most burn more carbon.” The tax applies to gasoline, natural gas and other fuels.

“That’s not right,” says University of Calgary economist Trevor Tombe.

According to him, it is true that the better-off tend to pay more tax, because they consume more fuel: they buy more products whose manufacture and transport generate pollutant emissions, they have larger houses to heat and they often have a second car.

Someone who earns twice as much does not consume twice as much fuel. A little more, but not twice more.

Trevor Tombe, Calgary Professor of Economics

If we look at the proportion of tax revenues, it’s different: in 2018, Albertans paid less than $30,000 a year spent about 1% of their income on the provincial carbon tax, compared to only 0.4% of their revenues. % for households earning more than $ 150,000, he explains.

The Director General of the Ecofiscal Commission of Canada, Dale Beugin, who also studied the Alberta data, says the tax is “slightly regressive”.

The expert report that proposed to the Alberta government the implementation of the carbon tax had also pointed out that a carbon price, “imposed without protection for low-income consumers, would be regressive”.

This is why the implementation of the carbon tax, from January 1, 2017, was accompanied by a refund whose amount varies according to the income of taxpayers.

The discounts are progressive

All households earning less than $95,000 receive a refund. For those with incomes below $60,000, this rebate is generally higher than the cost of the carbon tax.

The Alberta tax is currently $30 per tonne of carbon. It will increase to $40 in 2021, then $50 in 2022. Even though the provincial government plans to use the additional revenues for its general expenses, “the refunds will stay in place,” said Environment Minister Shannon Phillips.

At least one person buried by an avalanche near Nordegg

One person was buried under snow by an avalanche near Nordegg, at the foot of the Alberta Rockies, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said.

Staff Sergeant John Spaans reported that this person was conscious and breathing, but no other details about his health status have filtered.

Police received an emergency call at approximately 2:00 pm (local time) reporting an avalanche affecting four people on Mount Kitty Hawk.

The RCMP was told that a person dropped 200 to 300 meters along what they describe as an ice climbing route. Doubt persists as to whether it was the person buried under the snow.

The security forces were dispatched to the scene and asked for help from a rescue helicopter.

The air ambulance service also reported on Twitter that it was intervening in the area.

Avalanche risks in Alberta parks were “considerable” Saturday, according to the Parks Canada website. The hazard level is considered dangerous and requires “conservative decision-making.”

Depriving British Columbia of Alberta oil would be devastating, say experts

Alberta’s threat to cut off oil deliveries to British Columbia to secure the future of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion should be taken very seriously, analysts say.

On Thursday, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley announced that her government will introduce a bill to this effect.

Dan McTeague, Chief Analyst for GasBuddy, is forecasting a $2-per-liter price increase for British Columbian consumers if such a scenario occurs.

Rachel Notley says the goal is to convince British Columbia’s leaders not to go after the Trans Mountain project, which promises to triple the amount of oil transported by the existing pipeline.

“If the Horgan government does not take this situation seriously, it is understood that consumers will take it seriously,” says McTeague.

A harder tone

The Prime Minister said that her government will introduce a bill that will allow it to act flexibly when needed. Oil, but also natural gas could be affected, and the province does not rule out measures that could penalize not only British Columbia but the rest of the country.

Rachel Notley says the goal is to convince BC leaders not to attack Trans Mountain while creating the least negative impact for residents. “We do not want to create a crisis, we will be measured and cautious,” she promised.

This statement contrasts with the more conciliatory tone adopted by the Alberta premier in recent weeks. She suspended the wine embargo against British Columbia, which she accused of blocking the Trans Mountain project. Victoria had meanwhile brought the case to justice.

This hardening brings the New Democrats’ position closer to that of the official opposition, the Alberta Conservatives.

Visiting British Columbia on Monday, their leader, Jason Kenney, spoke of an interruption in Alberta’s oil deliveries and the imposition of British Columbia natural gas tolls via Alberta.

The Conservative leader wanted a stronger position from the Notley government for several months. “The government has accepted my position that must be done to the end,” he said Thursday.

In British Columbia, Environment Minister George Heyman does not expect this threat to be implemented. “I see no reason to believe that Alberta will take unfair measures,” he said.

He adds that his government is only defending the interests of the province.

The Prime Minister said that her government will introduce a bill that will allow it to act flexibly when needed. Oil, but also natural gas could be affected, and the province does not rule out measures that could penalize not only British Columbia but the rest of the country.

Rachel Notley says the goal is to convince BC leaders not to attack Trans Mountain while creating the least negative impact for residents. “We do not want to create a crisis, we will be measured and cautious,” she promised.

In British Columbia, Environment Minister George Heyman does not expect this threat to be implemented.

This move would be “unprecedented,” according to Simon Fraser University political scientist Nicolas Kenny. He noted, however, that it is difficult to predict how much the discussions around the Trans Mountain project could escalate.

“The more this debate grows, the more we risk seeing a constitutional crisis around this issue,” he concludes.