by EVAN MATTHEWS
It seems as though not everyone on the federal level is in agreement about carbon tax.
Bob Zimmer, Member of Parliament for Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies and Deputy Critic for Families, Children and Social Development, spent time on Oct. 18th questioning officials from the Department of Employment and Social Development, the Department of Finance, and Statistics Canada.
Zimmer questioned whether or not any of the departments had been asked to do an assessment of the impact that the Liberal’s carbon tax will have on low-income Canadians.
“We simply cannot allow our seniors and young families, who are already struggling to put food on the table, to be subjected to additional tax grabs,” said Zimmer.
“It’s troubling that they have no idea how these low-income Canadians will be affected,” he said.
On Oct. 3, the Federal Government announced it would implement a mandatory federal carbon tax in 2018 if each province did not create it’s own.
However, B.C. has had a carbon tax since 2008, meaning a federal tax likely wouldn’t change much for B.C. residents, leaving the question: why is MP Zimmer fighting so passionately?
Though the current tax sits at $30 per tonne of carbon dioxide, Zimmer says the Federal Government has a plan to triple the current plan to as high as $50 per tonne by 2022, which is something B.C. hasn’t avoided just yet.
“We’ve just checked the first box in the process,” says Zimmer. “Costing hasn’t been agreed upon across the board provincially.”
Things like turning on the furnace, or starting the car as opposed to walking, these aren’t choices for many people in Northern B.C., Zimmer says, and a recent poverty study conducted by Zimmer and his colleagues shows the biggest impact will be felt by those straddling the poverty line.
“These people’s margin of expendable income is zero, if not negative,” says Zimmer.
“We’re asking them to pay more to heat their house, drive their car, and that’s in addition to all the goods they have to buy,” he says, noting the tax will end up being counter-intuitive, and won’t tax the right people.
The B.C. carbon tax, according to Zimmer, includes most types of fuel use and carbon emissions, and started at $10 per tonne of carbon dioxide back in 2014. Since then, Zimmer says the tax has risen to $30 per tonne — roughly half of the increase Zimmer is predicting.
However, the Province has slashed income and other taxes, Zimmer says, in order to offset the carbon tax.
B.C. is second only to Ontario for the lowest income tax rate, according to the Federal Government’s website.
The average Canadian family — not B.C. family, but Canadian family — could be paying almost $2,600 in new taxes each year by 2022 due to carbon pricing, according to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.