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Residents respond as carbon tax hits at the pump

New federal measures aim to wean province off fossil fuels

  • July 5 2023
  • By Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter    

GUYSBOROUGH – Nova Scotians got an unwanted Canada Day present this year with the implementation of the federal government’s carbon tax, which saw prices at the pump jump $0.16 per litre.

In a June 29 news release about the carbon tax – which will also increase the cost of home heating oil, propane and other fossil fuels – Premier Tim Houston said, “Nova Scotians are concerned about this new federal tax and how it will increase the cost of everything – food, clothing, over-the-counter medicine, building our homes and more…We have the same goal as the federal government – to reduce our carbon emissions – but Nova Scotia’s plan doesn’t require taxing people. We are asking the federal government, once again, to work with us and not raise the price of everything for Nova Scotians.”

While the province is worried about the potential negative impact the carbon tax will have on the economy, the public is bracing for impact as the trend of rising prices sees no signs of reversing. The Journal spoke to motorists at the gas pumps in Guysborough on June 30, the day before the price hike went into effect, to gauge consumer reaction to the carbon tax and the potential impact it will have on day-to-day life in rural Nova Scotia.

Michael Morrison, of Morrison J M Backhoe & Trucking, was filling up his work vehicle and told The Journal the increase in fuel cost wouldn’t impact him much, but it would impact the people who hire him, “Because what I have to do is charge it to the customer; that’s the killer. I feel bad for the last person [on the supply chain]. I have to buy it to work. I’ve got no choice, but I feel bad for the poor customer.”

Morrison estimates he burns $50,000 a year in fuel. He said of the carbon tax, “We have no choice I guess…I realize we need to be greener, but how do we get there? Do we kill people getting there? People are going to go hungry. The farmers need to have fuel; myself, I have to have fuel.”

Asked if he’d heard about the carbon tax rebate Morrison said, “I don’t know anything about that…They say we’re going to get it back, but wouldn’t it be just as easy to leave it off and never mind. What’s it costing to send it back to us?”

Heather Malloy, a senior living in Roachvale, said, “It’s going to be crazy…the government, they’re always trying to find ways to dig into our pockets, and I don’t think it’s right.”

Asked if she felt the carbon tax would wean her off gas and oil she said, “No…number one, who can afford to turn around and buy the EV vehicles. I can’t afford that.”

Canso resident Janna O’Handley said the rise in gas prices will affect her quite a bit, adding, “We do most of our shopping and business out of town, and we make a trip at least once a week and with hockey season that’s going to really affect the pocket.”

Three other Canso-area families told The Journal via messages on social media that the impact for them would be severe given the distances they need to travel for sporting events, doctor and dentist appointments, work and most shopping.

New Harbour resident Peter Kaiser was filling up a double cab truck and a flat bed with several jerry cans, when The Journal approached him at the pump.

“I’ve got a fairly good job but, for what I make a week, I got to watch what I burn for gas…It’s going to make a major difference in the run of a year,” Kaiser said of the carbon tax, noting he’d have to spend nearly $20 on gas just to get to the nearest gas station.

Adele Pellerin drives from Halifax to Larry’s River frequently to see family. She told The Journal, “I understand…climate change is the most important thing. This is one way to address it, but the trick is we just have to get off it all together. I would gladly take a train to work or a bus to work, but there is nothing reliable for me to take in Halifax. So, this is our reality.”

Asked if the tax would impact the way she lives, Pellerin said, “It’s going to hurt…I might not come home as often as I would.”

Speaking to the promised federal rebate, Pellerin said, “I read the news every day and I haven’t heard too much about it. So, maybe not. Honestly, I don’t expect anything back anyway. I just expect this will be our new reality.”

None of the people The Journal spoke to through social media or in person knew any information about the Climate Action Incentive Payment (CAIP) – a tax-free amount paid to help individuals and families offset the cost of the federal pollution pricing, which consists of a basic amount and a supplement for residents in small and rural communities.

According to the Canadian Revenue Agency’s (CRA) website, residents of Nova Scotia, “will receive three quarterly payments (July 2023, October 2023, and January 2024) in the first year and four payments in the year(s) after that.”

There is no need to apply for the CAIP, the website stated, the CRA will “determine your eligibility when you file your income tax and benefit return and will send you payments if you’re entitled to them.”

Eligible Nova Scotians can expect quarterly payments as follows: $124 for an individual, $62 for a spouse or common-law partner, $31 per child under 19, $62 for the first child in a single-parent family and an additional rural supplement for those living outside the Halifax census metropolitan area.

And, while most people’s attention was focused on the price at the pump, the province also warned, in their news release of June 29, that another new tax will be applied by the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board on July 7: “The fuel producer carbon tax will require fuel producers and suppliers in Nova Scotia to make gas and diesel fuels cleaner by reducing their carbon content and is expected to further increase fuel costs.”

On June 30, the Council of Atlantic Premiers issued a news release urging Atlantic Canadians, “to speak up and ask their MPs to reconsider implementing the clean fuel regulations.”

The new regulations are expected to increase costs at the pump between four and eight cents a litre, in addition to the price hike levied on July 1 – with no partial rebate to offset the cost to consumers.

The release stated, “Residents can visit www.fightthefedhike.ca to send a letter to their MPs and learn more about the expected impact of this new tax on Atlantic Canadians.”