Alberta government exposes small business carbon tax scam

The federal government owes small businesses $2.5 billion in carbon rebates. Of that total, $718 million belongs to 175,000 eligible businesses in Alberta. 'That’s money that could be used to make payroll and keep the lights on,' said Rebecca Schulz, Alberta's Minister of the Environment.

Alberta government exposes small business carbon tax scam
The Canadian Press / Jeff McIntosh and The Canadian Press / Spencer Colby
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Small businesses are owed billions in carbon rebates from Ottawa and the province of Alberta is tired of waiting.

The finance department has been “developing the specifics” for payouts since 2019. The Trudeau Liberals owe businesses $2.5 billion in carbon tax revenue, reported Blacklock’s Reporter. 

“Your government promised to return these tax dollars to Canadian businesses. Five years later, the fund has grown to $2.5 billion and businesses are still waiting,” said Rebecca Schulz, Alberta’s Minister of the Environment.

Of that total, $718 million belongs to Albertans, according to a government press release. Roughly $4,000 would go back in the pockets of some 175,000 eligible businesses in the province.

“That’s money that could be used to make payroll and keep the lights on,” said Schulz.

Further payouts amount to $1.3 billion in Ontario, $301 million in Saskatchewan, and $144 million in Manitoba.

“While Federation calculations estimate small firms pay close to half the carbon tax revenue collected by [the] government, only 0.17 percent of all carbon tax revenues were returned to small businesses between 2019 and 2023,” said the Canadian Federation of Independent Business in its report Fueling Unfairness: Carbon Pricing And Small Business.

When Ottawa introduced the federal tax in regime 2018, it pledged a revenue-neutral tax. Nearly 89% of the proceeds ($11.4 billion) were returned to households through rebates. 

Rebel News earlier reported that Ottawa allocated a meagre 7% ($2.5 billion) of revenues to small and medium-sized businesses committed to reducing their emissions.

“How can you continue to claim that the carbon tax is ‘revenue neutral’ and that funds will be returned to the province in which they were collected when you have failed to return $2.5 billion over five years?” said Schulz.

To make matters worse, there is no mechanism in place to rebate businesses for the tax regime. 

In 2019, ECCC promised $155 million rebates for small businesses. That figure fell to $150 million, and its scope was limited to subsidizing electric vehicles, high-efficiency appliances and building refits. 

The federal government proceeded to cancel those programs by year three, citing difficulty getting money out the door. 

However, Budget 2022 promised a $2.5 billion retrofit program for businesses, with additional funds expected for Maritime provinces.

According to a government news release, Ottawa now intends to cut those rebates in half, earning profound dissatisfaction from the Government of Alberta.

“It is unacceptable to cut future rebates while refusing to return carbon tax funds promised to these businesses years ago,” said Schulz.

Under the current regime, “Increases in the carbon tax, coupled with minimal compensation, made the cost of doing business substantially higher, negatively impacting thousands of businesses,” reads Fueling Unfairness.

According to the Federation, three in five small businesses incurred 10% higher energy costs last year, despite using the same amount of power as in previous years.

“When these small business people come into my office and say, ‘My costs are going up, I have to lay someone off or cut someone’s pay,’ I’ll say to them that someday the government is going to announce a program,” Opposition leader Pierre Poilievre commented to reporters. 

“They can fill out a form and maybe staple on their receipts from gas and other expenses that have gone up, and maybe someone in Finance Canada or Environment Canada will reply to them and say, ‘Thanks for your letter,’” he added.

While the Federation said most businesses (52%) dislike the carbon tax, most still support offsetting their emissions and costs through retrofit grants. 

Should the carbon tax increase to $170 per tonne in 2030, over half (56%) of small businesses said they would have to increase their prices to offset costs, said Fueling Unfairness.

Over four in ten (45%) said it would increase pressure on them to freeze or cut salaries and wages, while 40% said they would have to reduce investment in their business.

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