By Grant Hunter, MLA
While Albertans have been struggling to pay their mortgages at the end of the month, the NDP government has been very busy trying to spin their $3-billion dollar carbon tax as revenue neutral. Sadly, for families and businesses, it will only lead to cost increases that will make the end of the month that much harder.
The carbon tax is not revenue neutral, and in fact will make everyday life – from driving your car to buying your groceries, from heating your house to turning on the lights – more expensive. This is of course a significant worry for everyday Albertans who are already dealing with the worst economic downturn since the 1980s. It’s a tax that sends the wrong message. It’s a tax that we simply can’t afford.
This tax will cost a typical Alberta family an extra $1,000 per year or more. For many families, this could mean the difference between paying for dance classes or registering for hockey or just being able to pay for good-quality groceries.
To date, the NDP government has been digging their heels in and doubling down on their support for taking an additional $3 billion in a way that isn’t revenue neutral from Albertans and Alberta businesses. The fact is, the overwhelming majority of the funds raised from this new tax will go directly to new government programs and pet projects.
Wildrose’s concerns about the carbon tax have now been supported by those who are the backbone of our economy – small business owners.
Despite the significant role Alberta’s small businesses play in building our communities, poor government policy now means most of them are being strangled in new taxes, regulations and red-tape. It’s hard to believe, but Alberta’s small and large business taxes are now the highest in all of western Canada.
With the low price of oil, many of the NDP government’s new policies are simply making a bad situation even worse.
A recent Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) survey has found that 82 per cent of small business owners surveyed do not support the introduction of a carbon tax. An overwhelming majority (79 per cent) fear that the carbon tax will lead to a spike in operating costs, and even more (81 per cent) don’t think that a carbon tax would do what it was originally intended for – help to reduce emissions.
At a time when small business confidence is in free fall, and one-third of respondents to another CFIB survey expect they will have to reduce staff, we are in desperate need of an NDP course correction. The last thing that small businesses need when they are just trying to balance the books and keep staff employed is a harmful carbon tax grab.
The good news is, it isn’t too late for the NDP government to reconsider their non-revenue neutral $3-billion dollar carbon tax. You can be sure that Wildrose will continue to urge the government to cancel this ill-advised policy, and to stand up for Albertans instead of kicking them while they’re down with new tax measures.
I’d encourage all Albertans to write to our province’s NDP MLAs and let them know how you feel about the carbon tax. It is my sincere hope that together, we can stop the NDP government from making things even worse for everyday Albertans and small business owners.
Grant Hunter is the Wildrose Shadow Jobs Minister and the MLA for Cardston-Taber-Warner.