Federal Carbon Tax Coming to Alberta in January: Environment Minister

June 13, 2019 Updated: June 13, 2019

Ottawa says a federal carbon tax will be imposed on Alberta starting Jan. 1.

Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna says she has written the province to inform it of the decision.

She says 90 percent of the money collected will go back to Alberta taxpayers in rebates, meaning an average family of four will get $888 returned next year. The remaining 10 percent will go toward making buildings in the province more energy efficient.

The tax currently stands at $20 a tonne and is set to rise to $50 a tonne by 2022.

Alberta passed legislation officially repealing its provincial carbon tax last week, after United Conservative Premier Jason Kenney won the April election on a promise to kill it.

Alberta joins four other provinces—New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan—which have declined to impose their own carbon levys, leaving Ottawa to impose the federal one.

McKenna did not explain why the tax won’t come into effect until Jan. 1.

Kenney had already said that if Ottawa were to impose its fee, he would join Saskatchewan and Ontario in their constitutional challenge of the tax.

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on June 13, 2019. (Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press)
Environment Minister Catherine McKenna rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on June 13, 2019. (Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press)

PBO Says Canada May Need Additional Carbon Taxes to Meet its Paris Targets

Canada’s price on carbon will have to be five times what it is now if the country is to reach its Paris Agreement greenhouse-gas emissions targets just by charging for those emissions, Parliament’s budget watchdog says.

The current $20-a-tonne federal levy on fuels is set to rise to $50 a tonne by 2022. It applies in provinces that don’t have equivalent carbon-pricing systems of their own. The Parliamentary Budget Office says that may not be enough.

In a new report Thursday, the PBO says an additional levy that goes beyond fuels would have to start at $6 per tonne of emissions in 2023 and rise to $52 by 2030.

Combined with the current federal fuel charge, that would add up to $102 per tonne. The PBO estimates that would mean an additional cost of 23 cents for a litre of gasoline.

The report was released the same day Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said the government would enforce the federal carbon tax in Alberta starting next January.

McKenna reiterated that the government is committed to meeting the Paris targets and emphasized the role of factors other than the price on carbon, such as clean technology and infrastructure.

In a statement Thursday, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said the report proves the current carbon price is “another cash grab which is hurting already-overtaxed Canadians.” Scheer said he would scrap the current carbon tax if elected prime minister.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer addresses the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations in Montreal on May 7, 2019. (The Canadian Press/Ryan Remiorz)
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