The carbon tax is again centre stage in Atlantic Canada, as premiers from coast to coast dispute the lack of reprieve outside the Maritimes.
In a joint statement from five provinces, including Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, several premiers condemned the federal carbon tax as "having a disproportionate impact on affordability for millions of Canadians without actually creating options for people to move away from fossil fuels."
"The federal government’s recent decision to remove the carbon tax on certain heating fuels in some provinces and not others are creating further jurisdictional imbalances," the premiers said. "We urge the federal government to eliminate the carbon tax to ensure fairness and ease financial pressure on Canadians."
In October, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a three-year pause on the carbon tax for residential heating oils, while expanding low-income grants for installing heat pumps in the Maritimes.
"We have to fight climate change in a way that supports all Canadians," he told reporters October 26, while also doubling the carbon tax rebate for rural Canadians.
The relief is applicable only to 10 jurisdictions as B.C., Québec, and the Northwest Territories collect their own carbon tax.
B.C. Premier David Eby criticized the feds for their unequal distribution of cost relief, calling it "unfair."
"I don't begrudge Atlantic Canadians the ability to get off home heating oil and not to have to endure those huge bills that come when the fuel truck shows up," he told reporters.
"I sure am unhappy that there's not a clear path yet for British Columbia on co-delivery of free heat pumps for British Columbians that are in the exact same situation."
According to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF), the carbon tax on home heating fuel will cost average families in the province more than $260 per year.
"We calculated that removing the federal carbon tax from natural gas would save the average home about $300 this year and about $1,100 over three years," said Franco Terrazzano, the watchdog organization's federal director.
The federal carbon tax exemption notably excludes natural gas and other fuels, which 60% of Atlantic Canadians use to heat their homes. According to the Canadian Gas Association, the average home uses 2,385 cubic metres of natural gas each year.
"And those families are struggling to pay for heating bills and everything else," said Jay Goldberg, interim Atlantic CTF director.
"The government is hoping that taxpayers in Atlantic Canada can be bought off by temporarily taking the carbon tax off home heating oil," he added. "But taxpayers are smarter than Trudeau’s brain trust thinks. They can spot a gimmick when they see one."
Families in Ontario and Western Canada are about to get "hammered by the carbon tax this winter" noted the CTF.
According to the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO), the carbon tax will cost the average Atlantic household between $347 and $465 this year, after carbon rebates. By 2030, those numbers will jump to between $1,316 and $1,521.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford also took aim at the carbon tax in a written statement issued ahead of the meeting, calling on the federal government to "do the right thing" and cut the item outright across Canada.
"As people continue to grapple with higher costs of living, it’s time for the federal government to work with provinces to tackle inflation," he said.
"This includes providing fairness to all Canadians regardless of how they heat their home. People across the country are struggling, and everyone deserves a break."
The PBO said the carbon tax will cost the average family up to $710 this year even after rebates.
"Liberal MPs outside of Atlantic Canada must stand up for their constituents and demand that Trudeau give all Canadians the relief we need," said Terrazzano. "The fair and simple solution is for Trudeau to give all Canadians carbon tax relief."