Carbon tax rebates coming this week, government says

Albertans will begin receiving carbon tax rebate cheques sometime in the next week, deputy premier Sarah Hoffman said New Year's Day, the day a 50 per cent increase in the tax went into effect.

About 60 per cent of Albertans will receive a rebate to offset the increased carbon tax

Carbon tax rebates are 50 per cent higher than last year and will begin being issued this week, Alberta deputy premier Sarah Hoffman said Monday. (Scott Neufeld/CBC)

Albertans will begin receiving carbon tax rebate cheques sometime in the next week, deputy premier Sarah Hoffman said New Year's Day, the same day a 50 per cent increase in the tax went into effect. 

About 60 per cent of Albertans will automatically receive a rebate in their bank accounts to offset the costs of the carbon tax, the government says. These rebates are also 50 per cent higher from last year.  

"Rebate cheques are expected around the fifth, so within about a week folks should be getting their rebates and ready to address ... some of those additional costs."

At the beginning of 2017, Alberta's NDP government implemented the $20 per tonne tax on carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels used for transportation and heating. Starting today, that tax rose to $30 a tonne.

The carbon tax on gasoline will increase from 4.49 cents per litre to 6.73 cents per litre. On a litre of diesel, the tax will increase from 5.35 cents to 8.03 cents.

On natural gas, the most common home heating fuel in Alberta, the tax will increase by about 50 cents per gigajoule (GJ). On propane it will increase from 3.08 cents per litre to 4.62 cents.

The tax doesn't apply to electricity or farm fuels, but the tax is in effect on other fuels, including everything from jet fuel and kerosene, to locomotive diesel and the coal that some rural Albertans use to heat their homes.

The government estimates around $310 million will be returned to Albertans in the form of carbon tax rebates in 2017 and 2018.

A single person earning up to $47,500 a year will receive a rebate of $300 in 2018. A couple earning up to $95,000 per year will receive $450. A family with two children earning up to $95,000 per year will receive a $540 rebate.

'Hasn't necessarily been easy'

Hoffman says the carbon tax supports job growth and a stable economic future for the province and shows the government is taking climate change seriously. 

"I don't think it has been as shocking to Albertans on the cost side as many would want you to believe it would be. It hasn't necessarily been easy, anytime you're paying a little bit more it's a challenge," she said.

"We're really proud of how Albertans have responded last year in being able to see the benefits for the long run."

I don't think it has been as shocking to Albertans on the cost side as many would want you to believe it would be.- Sarah Hoffman, deputy premier

Premier Rachel Notley has said the carbon tax can help diversify industries, reduce pollution and help Alberta win approval for pipelines. She said she will respect the federal mandate to boost the carbon tax to $50 per tonne by 2022.

In its 2017-18 budget, the government said the carbon tax will generate $3.9 billion in revenue by the end of the 2019-20 fiscal year.

More than half of the money will go back into the economy through household rebates and a small-business tax cut, the province said. The rest will be invested in programs designed to reduce emissions and diversify the economy, such as green energy projects and public transit.

In a news release Monday, the United Conservative Party said "punishing" Albertans with the carbon tax is not an environmental strategy.

On New Year's Eve, UCP leader Jason Kenney posted a video of himself on Twitter at a gas station filling up his Dodge Ram pickup truck in advance of the carbon tax increase.

He says if elected in 2019, his first bill in the legislature would be to repeal the carbon tax.