FREDERICTON — The New Brunswick government will not impose a new direct tax on consumers when it introduces legislation for carbon pricing on Thursday, according to a government source.
The source tells The Canadian Press that the legislation will include greater emphasis on energy efficiency programs, impose new regulations on heavy industry and repurpose existing taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel to fund programs to fight climate change.
The source says the heaviest industrial emitters will face more rigorous performance standards than those now in place.
Serge Rousselle, the minister of Environment and Local Government, is expected to offer some comments Tuesday following the tour of a solar panel installation in Fredericton.
Kevin Lacey of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation said he welcomes news that there won’t be a direct new tax on New Brunswick consumers.
“Sparing overtaxed, working families from a direct hit from the carbon tax is the right approach, but make no mistake, shifting the burden to business is going to have a trickle-down effect that will affect every single taxpayer,” he said.
Last week, the Saskatchewan government also announced a carbon pricing plan than did not include a carbon tax.
The Saskatchewan plan calls for performance standards on facilities that emit more than 25,000 tonnes annually of carbon dioxide equivalent. Facilities that exceed their limit will have to pay or buy carbon offsets from farmers or foresters, or a carbon credit from another company under its allotment.
British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec had already introduced carbon pricing systems.
The federal government has demanded that the provinces establish a carbon tax that would start at $10 a tonne in 2018 and rise to $50 a tonne by 2022.
Lacey said the provinces need to push back against Ottawa’s plan, saying it will hurt the economy.
“Businesses who pay more tax to the government means they’ll have less money for higher wages for workers, less to invest in innovation, and less to create more jobs. The average family may not feel this on their paycheque every couple of weeks, but the effects will nonetheless be felt,” Lacey said.
Lacey said he’s concerned when the New Brunswick government talks about “repurposing” some taxes.
“Taxpayers are rightfully skeptical of that kind of language and we’ve seen government use this type of language to justify higher revenues and higher taxes. Taxpayers are taxed-out in the province,” he said.
Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press