Canadian Underwriter

Alberta set to roll out climate change legislation, details on $3B carbon tax

March 7, 2016   by Dean Bennett - THE CANADIAN PRESS

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EDMONTON – Details of who pays what when Alberta brings in a new $3-billion a year carbon tax are to be released in the upcoming legislature session, says government house leader Brian Mason.

The tax is set to begin on Jan. 1, 2017

Mason said the session, which begins Tuesday, is to see the government bring forward legislation as the next step toward implementing the carbon tax.

The tax is set to begin next Jan. 1.

“It will enact the (carbon) levy. It will provide for rebates to individuals and to small business. It will create a new energy efficiency agency and it will empower the allocation of money to other (funds),” Mason said Monday at the legislature.

Legislation will give regulatory teeth to the climate change plan announced by Premier Rachel Notley in the fall. The plan aims to reduce carbon emissions through new and increased taxes and by phasing out coal-fired electricity generation by 2030.

The carbon tax is to be on everything from gas at the pumps to home heating and electricity bills.

The government has promised to provide rebates to low- and middle-income earners and small businesses. It’s estimated that 60 per cent of Albertans will get at least some financial relief.

The tax is to collect an estimated $3 billion a year when it is fully implemented by 2018.

In November, the government predicted the changes would cost the average household $320 in 2017 and rise to $470 in 2018.

Some of the tax is to be redirected to green technology and efficiencies.

Wildrose house leader Nathan Cooper said the tax is making things worse for a province losing tens of thousands of jobs due to the continuing low price of oil.

Related: Premiers agree carbon pricing to be part of overall climate plan

“This carbon tax is and will directly harm Alberta’s families, seniors and businesses that are already struggling,” said Cooper.

The Wildrose estimates the carbon tax will cost families $1,000 a year more.

The NDP has already hiked personal income taxes for higher income earners and boosted the corporate tax to 12 per cent from 10.

Alberta Party Leader Greg Clark said he wants to see the carbon tax be “as close to revenue neutral as possible” to encourage people to buy in to fixing climate change.

“What I’ve seen so far is not in any way a revenue-neutral carbon tax,” said Clark.

Lt.-Gov. Lois Mitchell is to open the session Tuesday afternoon with a speech from the throne, which outlines government plans and intentions.

The session is expected to go until early June.

Finance Minister Joe Ceci is to unveil the budget in early April and has already estimated the deficit for the 2016-17 fiscal year at $10 billion.

Mason said there will also be legislation to reduce and streamline the government’s 301 agencies, boards and commissions.

The government will also amend the law to fix an issue it has never confronted before – pregnant politicians. The law will be changed so that legislature members having children or on maternity leave are not sanctioned for missing sitting days in the house, he said.

Service Alberta Minister Stephanie McLean gave birth last month and associate health minister Brandy Payne is due in July.

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