Over half of Canadians don't want to pay a carbon tax: poll

Though Alberta is typically the most anti-carbon tax province in Canada, the Maritimes usurped the conservative stronghold with 48% of respondents supporting its abolition.

Over half of Canadians don't want to pay a carbon tax: poll
Facebook/Steven Guilbeault
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Most Canadians don't want to pay a carbon tax — period. They want it reduced or eliminated entirely, says a new Leger poll.

Of respondents, over half (55%) wanted the carbon tax reduced (18%) or abolished (37%), while a quarter (27%) are content with the status quo, reported the National Post.

Less than one in five (18%) Canadians want to pay annual tax hikes until 2030, when all except Québec will pay $170 per tonne of carbon emissions.

As of April 1, Québec pays 9 cents per litre of gas. It will rise to 22.5 cents per litre of gas by 2030.

The carbon tax currently costs Albertans 14.4 cents per litre of gas — up from 8.8 cents in 2021. That is expected to rise to 37.6 cents in 2030. 

"It's become quite clear that the price the federal government has set is not the same in every province," Alberta Premier Danielle Smith told reporters on May 26.

"Québec is going to have a much lower carbon tax price than Alberta, and I suppose if the federal government were going to interfere in this matter, the courts would frown on differential pricing."

On December 9, the UCP leader told reporters she would look at using the Alberta Sovereignty Act to investigate this discrepancy. The party has yet to confirm if or when that motion would be tabled.

Though Alberta is typically the most anti-carbon tax province in Canada, the Maritimes usurped the conservative stronghold with 48% of respondents supporting its abolition, according to the poll.

On July 1, Atlantic Canada observed higher fuel prices and pushed back against the federal government soon after.

"We have a lot of factors that are working against us, and we can ill afford to see a higher price paid by Islanders, or Atlantic Canadians, at the pump," said P.E.I. Premier Dennis King.

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey has penned two letters to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, imploring him to reverse the tax hikes and pause clean fuel regulations citing financial uncertainty for residents.

Dated August 15, Furey has repeatedly expressed concern about the "detrimental and disproportionate impact" a second carbon tax would have on taxpayers.  

According to Franco Terrazzano, Federal Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF), Nova Scotians paid the "single-biggest carbon tax hike in Canadian history" of 12 cents per litre, or $10 more per family at the pumps.

"The carbon tax makes the necessities of life more expensive, such as driving to work, keeping your home warm, or going to the grocery store," he said.

On average, most residents and households will pay more carbon tax than they receive in climate rebates.

"The carbon tax will cost the average Nova Scotia household $431 more than they get in annual rebates," said Terrazzano.

On March 14, Trudeau claimed the carbon tax puts more money in the pockets of Canadians. 

He claimed the average family of four in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, would receive a climate action incentive cheque worth $272 every three months, starting in July.

"That's over $1,000 a year and more than makes up for the extra costs because of the carbon price," said Trudeau, adding: "This is how you fight climate change."

In April, Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) Yves Giroux updated his federal carbon tax report from March 2022 to include Atlantic Canada, and found that "most households will be worse off." 

"Only the bottom quintile is better off, but everybody else is likely worse," said Giroux.

According to the PBO, Nova Scotia families from the lowest earning quintile would receive $226 in federal rebates, whereas the highest earners would pay $4,368 annually in 2030.

A similar family from Newfoundland and Labrador would receive $689, with the province's highest earners paying $4,872 in 2030.

According to the Leger poll, citizens support climate action, but don’t want to pay for it.

“When you just ask people, ‘Hey do you support all these great things?’ they’re tripping over themselves to say yes,” said Andrew Enns, executive vice president with Leger.

The intent behind the carbon tax is to disincentivize the use of fossil fuels by making them more expensive. However, Canadians largely didn’t seem to be changing their consumption patterns.

Less than a third (31%) of Canadians are travelling less because of the carbon tax, and three in ten (30%) are driving less.

Enns said this poll shows “a very specific policy that has a very specific economic consequence.”

Smith added that these decisions should be made at the local level and that they oppose a consumer carbon tax "for a good reason." She told reporters a carbon tax would increase electricity and home heating costs.

“And on that, it's very clear, ‘I don’t want to pay more,’” added Enns.

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