Changing your lifestyle won’t spare you from Alberta’s carbon tax

Canadian Taxpayers Federation
Op-ed piece

In a matter of four years, the gasoline tax bill for the average family of four in Alberta is going to double.

By 2018, the portion of the pump price that is purely taxes will be a whopping 36 per cent, costing a typical Alberta family $888 that year alone.

Driving is becoming increasingly unaffordable in this province in part because of Premier Notley’s $6 billion carbon tax. The other part is the 2015 PC gas tax hike that the NDP must have liked, because it has remained in place.

Does the NDP government believe driving is a frivolous luxury on which you can and should cut back?

Their reasoning seems to be that if you simply drive less, you can save money. Some Albertans will get rebates, but all Albertans can pat themselves on the back for saving the planet.

By 2018, if it costs you $40 to fill up your tank, over $14 of that will be handed directly over to the government.

But as the memo says, if you want to save money under the new green regime, just change your ways. ‘Green’ your lifestyle. It’s simple!

Tell that to the three-child family living on an acreage in Okotoks, shuttling their kids to daycare, school and hockey and rushing to make it to work in Calgary on time. What does ‘greening’ your lifestyle mean for them? Trade in the SUV for a Smart car and strap the three children to the roof?

But let’s humour the government. Let’s assume we can all dramatically change our lifestyles to accommodate the nouveau Albertan way of life.

We all stop driving, only using car-sharing services when it rains. We all sell our homes with backyards and purchase small condos located immediately beside our workplaces so we can walk or bike to work. We all purchase really thick sweaters so we can stop heating our homes comfortably in the winter.

Here’s the problem: even in the fantasyland we just created, Albertans will still pay more because of the carbon tax. The government has finally admitted that the costs will be substantially higher than they originally told Albertans.

Businesses will pay more for transporting goods across the province. This increased burden will manifest in the form of higher prices on the things we buy. Bananas, diapers and winter coats will cost more.

Municipal governments are also going to pay more. Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi says the tax will run up a whopping $6.5 million tab for the city in 2018. Mayor Nenshi characterized the cost as a “half point increase in the property tax.”

School boards are going to pay more. In Edmonton, the Catholic School Board said the carbon tax will cost them $217,000 more in 2016-17 and estimates similar costs for the following year. Add in an estimated $520,000 in additional natural gas costs in 2017-18, and that’s an extra $737,000 for just one school board in just one year.
Alberta has 61 public school boards. In Calgary, the costs are expected to be even higher.

Through increased taxes or increased bussing fees, the carbon tax will make sending your kids to school more expensive, too.

Some carbon tax proponents have been completely transparent about the costs of the carbon tax. Yes, it will make life more expensive for you, and yes, that’s the point: so you change your (apparently reprehensible) behaviour.

The problem is, there’s nothing wrong with driving, eating, heating your home, or sending your kids to school.
Yet all of those things will become more expensive under the carbon tax. All of this so that after 13 years of paying the carbon tax, we can hope to produce 50 megatonnes less than ‘business as usual’ in emissions, while China will kick out 58 times that amount in the same period?

Set aside that changing our lifestyles is unrealistic – it also won’t stop Albertans from paying the carbon tax. Nor will it make a dent in climate change. But by golly, you can feel warm and fuzzy about it … until you need to fill up the tank again.
Paige MacPherson,
Alberta Director,
Canadian Taxpayers Federation

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