Carbon tax will cost Alberta families at least $1,000, Wildrose says

Alberta’s NDP government is hiding the true effects of the carbon tax, which could cost families at least $1,000 more each year, Wildrose Leader Brian Jean said Monday.

'Why we are going to such great lengths ... is beyond belief,' Brian Jean says

Wildrose Leader Brian Jean (right) wants the NDP government to study the full economic effects of the carbon tax before implementing it next year. Jean appeared at the Monday news conference with Wildrose electricity and renewable energy critic Don McIntyre. (CBC )

Alberta's NDP government is hiding the true effects of the carbon tax, which could cost families at least $1,000 more each year, Wildrose Leader Brian Jean said Monday.

Although low- and middle-income Albertans will receive rebates on the tax when it starts Jan. 1, 2017, Jean said they still will pay up to $700 extra.

Jean said the tax is just a money grab and noted the government has provided no information on how the measure will reduce emissions.

He called on the government to delay the tax until the full economic impact can be studied.

"[The tax is] certainly not required by the international community. It's not required by the federal government," Jean said.

"And why we are going to such great lengths to be better than anybody else in the world by far, to punish our own competitiveness, is beyond belief."

Details of the carbon tax were released in Thursday's budget.

Full and partial rebates will be offered to singles earning up to $51,250 net income annually and couples earning up to $100,000.

The net income cutoff for couples with two children is $101,000. Rebates will rise in 2018, when the carbon levy increases to $30 a tonne from $20.

The government has said people will see extra costs at the gas pump and on their home heating bills. The money collected will be invested in green infrastructure, energy efficiency programs and clean energy research. 

Jean cited data from the Canadian Tax Journal that said a $30 carbon tax will increase electricity prices by 7.5 per cent, food costs by two per cent and the shelter costs by 1.2 per cent.

Jean said the initiative will do little or nothing to change people's behaviour.

Environment Minister Shannon Phillips rejected the numbers used by the Wildrose, which she said come from a Canada-wide study written three years ago. She said the cost for an average family will be $500, with 60 per cent of Alberta households getting a full rebate. 

She said the study doesn't take into account the Specified Gas Emitter Regulation, which came into effect in 2007 and requires facilities that emit 100,000 tonnes or more of greenhouse gases a year to reduce their emissions intensity.

Phillips said the Wildrose also didn't factor in additional programs the government will fund from the carbon tax. 

"The way that this data is presented by the Wildrose is sloppy, it is intellectually lazy, and it does not apply to Alberta," Phillips said. 

Jean said municipalities will bear the cost, which will translate into higher taxes. But Phillips said cities and towns will benefit from policies that build green infrastructure and expand transit. 

Phillips said the carbon tax, phase-out of coal and methane reduction in the oil and gas sector should reduce emissions by 30 to 35 megatonnes from where things were under the previous government.