Alberta carbon tax rebates too generous, says Alberta Party
Environment minister dismisses Alberta Party numbers as 'back-of-the-napkin calculation'
The Alberta government's carbon tax and rebate program continues to come under attack as allegations fly that programs funded by the new tax are politically motivated and Albertans are being lured by rebates that are too generous.
After crunching the numbers comparing the aggregate rebate amount to energy consumption, the Alberta Party estimates Albertans will be overpaid by $225 million over a two-year span of the program.
"Look, I think there's a political agenda here from the NDP," Alberta Party Leader Greg Clark said Tuesday.
"I think they're trying to bribe Albertans with not only their own money, but with other people's money, to get them on board with their carbon tax plan," he said, portraying the rebates as ineffective and overly generous.
For those earning less than $80,000 a year, Clark said, the rebates are almost 150 per cent higher than the actual household energy cost. He said that does nothing to persuade Albertans to use less energy.
Phillips says rebates aren't excessive
But Environment and Parks minister Shannon Phillips said she won't apologize for putting money in the pockets of Albertans struggling to get by in tough economic times.
She rejected the suggestion by Clark that the rebates are excessive.
"This claim is not at all backed by evidence," Phillips said. "It's some back-of-the-napkin calculation."
She said the rebate plan was structured to make sure ordinary Albertans are not faced with increasing costs and that it was based on "sound economic science."
The Wildrose, meanwhile, is calling the NDP government's new $600,000 grant program to promote climate education "an offensive waste of money."
Wildrose shadow environment minister Todd Loewen said Tuesday it's another excuse for the government to spend money to try and sell Albertans on a plan they don't like.
'Political pet projects'
"It's likely the beginning of an endless string of political pet projects," said Loewen, pointing to the $9 million already spent on an advertising campaign to promote the government's climate leadership plan.
"Now we see another $600,000 spent here, and it just seems like over and over again this money is going to the same people. It's definitely an effort to sell the carbon tax [to] Albertans, that Albertans are just not buying."
Phillips defended the new grant program as a way to allow residents to adapt and understand the effects of climate change.
"If the Wildrose wants to attack educators, or ranchers or Indigenous organizations that are eligible for these supports in order to adapt to a changing climate, then I leave them to it," she said.
Alberta's carbon tax came into effect Jan. 1.
It's charged on all fuels that produce greenhouse gas emissions when combusted, from gasoline and diesel to natural gas and propane. Economists have said it will also drive up the prices of some consumer goods.
The government says six of 10 Alberta households will receive rebates that covers the average cost of the carbon tax.
This year rebates of up to $420 a year are being paid to couples with four children earning less than $103,000. Single Albertans earning less than $51.250 receive $200 a year, and couples earning less than $100,000 receive $300.