How the carbon tax will affect you in 2019

Under New Brunswick's latest carbon tax plan, this one imposed by the federal government, consumers will have six more months until they start feeling it.

Federal government has imposed a carbon tax on greenhouse gas emissions in New Brunswick

The federal government will impose a carbon tax on greenhouse gas emissions in New Brunswick to fight climate change

Consumers in New Brunswick have six more months before they start feeling the carbon tax plan imposed by the federal government.

On Tuesday, the federal Liberals announced they would impose a carbon tax on greenhouse gas emissions in New Brunswick and three other provinces to fight climate change.

The federal levy of $20 a tonne for large emitters begins Jan. 1 and rises to $50 in 2022. A levy on fuel will be added in April.

"You'll see it mostly come April next year, when you go to fill up your car," said Lois Corbett, executive director of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick.

"You will see it when you're filling up your furnace at home if you're not on your own fuel source."

Lois Corbett, executive director of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, says the plan includes incentives for consumers to rely less on things that pollute. (Jacques Poitras/CBC)

The new system, imposed after Ottawa deemed the province's proposal as not up to standard, will impose the tax on fuel and production and distribution companies, which will pass the increased cost along to consumers buying gasoline, natural gas and home heating.

The price of gas will increase 4.42 cents per litre in 2019 because of the tax, while natural gas used to heat a home will increase 3.91 cents per cubic metre, according to figures provided by the federal government.

Federal health minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor talks to CBC New Brunswick's Harry Forestell about the federal government's carbon tax and how it will apply to New Brunswickers. 1:14

Corbett said the recognition of that sticker price will help consumers make better decisions over time. In turn, she said, it will also help producers make products with a smaller carbon footprint.

"If you don't use it, you don't have to pay for it, so let's move our entire economy in our towns, in our villages and in our homes on the path toward a low carbon one and get away from a huge carbon footprint," she said.

A price on pollution

Louise Comeau, a research associate with the University of New Brunswick, said the plan reflects the importance of putting a price tag on pollution.

"It's important to remember, what does this mean for us?" said Comeau. "We need to keep the problem in mind, we've got a climate change problem."

Louise Comeau, a research associate with the University of New Brunswick, says it's important governments put a price tag on pollution. (CBC)

Citing the spring flood as a symptom of climate change that affected people physically and emotionally, Comeau said it's important to keep the climate issue top of mind in daily life.

"When we go to buy something, we need to have a signal that says, 'This thing over here is less polluting, I'm going to buy that one.'"

Rebates an incentive

The federal plan will see energy users — both people and businesses — pay higher taxes, but the rebates will only go to people, putting the burden on businesses.

Ninety per cent of the revenue will be sent back to New Brunswick as rebates directly to individuals when they do their income taxes. ​The rebate amount depends on the size of a family.

Corbett said the rebates are being offered as incentives as the tax gets underway.

"It starts out small, like a little slap across the wrist, and then it moves overtime," she said.

Ottawa is imposing a carbon plan on the province. Lois Corbett and Louise Comeau share their thoughts about the new plan, and how it will affect New Brunswickers. 16:42

Eventually, the tax may level the playing field between renewable energy and more polluting forms, such as coal-fired electricity, and may bring on wider use of more efficient vehicles.

"That's how a price on pollution helps level out that playing field over time," she said. "The rebate back to the people is to help them adjust at home."

That adjustment could include putting more insulation in the basement or buying a more efficient refrigerator, she said.

In 2019, a single adult will receive a rebate of $128. A second adult would receive $64, while a single parent would receive that amount for a first child. The payment would be $32 for each child.

The federal government estimated a family of four will pay an average of $207 because of the new tax and would get a $256 rebate in 2019.

Trying to adjust

Comeau said it's important to note that fishermen and farmers are exempt from the tax, and people living in rural communities have a 10 per cent top-up on the rebate. In New Brunswick, all but the Saint John and Moncton areas are considered rural.

"They've thought about rural people," she said. "They've tried to think about fishers and farmers, and they've already got a regulation on large industry."

"For us it means that at the pump we will over time see a small price increase that will rise over time, it will become more noticeable. And to help us get started, they will provide some resources back through the tax system … that will help us adjust."  

With files from Information Morning Fredericton, Shane Magee