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Small businesses and farms await $2.5 billion in carbon tax rebates from Ottawa

By Jean-Paul McDonald

 “Farmers are already dealing with rising costs on top of steep labour shortages. Now, the carbon tax is significantly increasing to $80 per tonne on April 1,” said Jasmin Guénette, CFIB’s vice-president of national affairs. “The carbon tax is unfair to farmers. That’s why CFIB is asking Members of Parliament to reject the Senate amendments and expedite the passing of Bill C-234 in its original form, which will exempt farmers from paying the carbon tax on propane and natural gas for farm usage. This will provide a meaningful cost relief to farmers and protect our food supply.” 

On top of that, since 2019, the Canadian government has been collecting carbon tax, promising a rebate to small businesses, farmers, and Indigenous people.  

Despite the collection of $2.5 billion, businesses in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta have yet to see these funds. The tax increase to $80 per tonne adds to the urgency. 

Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), states, "This is particularly troubling as the tax was expanded to all four Atlantic provinces in July of last year.  

There is no mechanism in place to return a dime to small businesses paying the federal carbon tax in eight provinces." Kelly's concern is amplified by the fact that small businesses pay a significant portion of the carbon tax but receive minimal rebates.  

He adds, "While the federal government charges carbon taxes to all small businesses, they plan to rebate only a select few in emissions-intensive and trade-exposed sectors, whatever that means." 

The CFIB also fears recent adjustments to rural consumer rebates may further reduce small businesses' share. 

Kelly explains, "The Deputy Prime Minister's office confirmed the changes will be funded through an 'excess allocation in future years,' which we interpret as the 10% that is supposed to be returned to small business." 

To address these challenges, the CFIB urges the government to: 

  • Immediately return the $2.5 billion owed. 

  • Develop a simple rebate formula for ongoing carbon tax revenue. 

  • Freeze the carbon tax at its current level and make exemptions for certain fuels. 

Corinne Pohlmann, CFIB's Executive Vice-President of Advocacy, emphasizes the need for action: "With the new year bringing new costs, we're calling on Ottawa to take some concrete action and do more to help small businesses facing financial hardships." 

The CFIB's petition aims to rally the small business community and advocate for equitable treatment under Canada's carbon tax regime. The call for fairness and immediate action underscores the growing concern among small business owners about the sustainability and justice of the current system. 

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