North

Carbon tax rebate coming to Yukon municipalities, says premier

Yukon mayors say they are happy a carbon tax rebate will be extended to municipalities. But some say a lack of details is hurting their budget planning and they're skeptical the rebate will even happen.

Premier Sandy Silver pledges more details by end of summer

Yukon Premier Sandy Silver said it's just a matter of finalizing details before the territory can provide answers about the rebate to municipalities. (Jane Sponagle/CBC )

A promised carbon tax rebate to Yukon municipalities has many of the territory's mayors happy, but some say their budget planning is being hurt by a lack of detail on how the mechanism would work and remain skeptical the rebate will even happen.

Last week, Premier Sandy Silver sent letters to the mayors informing them municipalities will receive a 100 per cent rebate. Up until then, the territorial government had only committed to returning money collected by the federal carbon tax to Yukoners and Yukon businesses.

Silver said First Nations governments can also expect carbon tax revenue to be returned to them.

The federal carbon tax is expected to come into effect on January 1, 2019. At that time, carbon will be taxed at $20 per tonne and by 2022, at $50 per tonne.

The biggest direct costs for municipalities will be fuel for municipal vehicles and heating municipal buildings.

Last month, the City of Whitehorse estimated it would pay $126,000 in 2019 and $324,000 by 2022.

Dawson City Mayor Wayne Potoroka said it's a "major step forward" to have the commitment to include municipalities in a rebate mechanism.

Dawson City Mayor Wayne Potoroka is one of several Yukon mayors that said they need details on the carbon tax rebate to budget accordingly. (Jane Sponagle/CBC)

Potoroka said he wasn't expecting to hear details on how the mechanism would work by this weekend's Association of Yukon Communities' conference. 

He said while those details are still unclear, he does not think the carbon tax is "going to break the bank or anything."

"We have to understand what the impact will be on our budgets, how we can reduce our costs associated with carbon and budget accordingly," said Potoroka.

Haines Junction Mayor Michael Riseborough agrees the important part is knowing the rebate is coming.

"Municipalities use the money that we raise through taxes to provide for municipal services. To have the money that we raise go in taxes, to my way of thinking, is counterproductive," he said. 

"The actual details of the mechanism of how it comes and so on is one of those things that we can probably afford to wait for," he said, but added hopefully not for too long.

Faro Mayor Jack Bowers said he's skeptical.

"We've seen in the past taxes such as the GST where rebates were promised that didn't really transpire," he said.

Michael Riseborough, mayor of Haines Junction, said it's counterproductive for the money municipalities raise to go into taxes. (Jane Sponagle/CBC)

Bowers sponsored a resolution at the meeting that the Yukon government extend a rebate to municipalities.

It claims the federal carbon tax "will place an undue financial burden on municipalities that is counter-productive to investing in energy efficiencies."

Although the carbon tax could start next year, municipalities may not see a rebate until 2021, said Association of Yukon Communities past president Diana Rogerson.

Slow response from Ottawa 

Premier Sandy Silver thanked mayors for their patience during his speech at Friday night's Association of Yukon Communities dinner.

That's where he announced that an exemption was coming to the aviation industry: flights between Yukon communities would be exempt from the carbon tax.

Silver said the government has been waiting on Ottawa for answers to some specific questions. He said answers have been slow coming and the territorial government is very frustrated.

Faro Mayor Jack Bowers said in the past rebates have been promised without follow through. (Jane Sponagle/CBC )

Silver said he's had many discussions with Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna and Yukon Environment Minister Pauline Frost.

"We're very close and I can't see anything other than what we were asking for, so that's good. It's just a matter of getting those final details finalized," he said.

Silver met with McKenna in Ottawa almost two weeks ago, saying he told her the Yukon can't wait past the summer for answers with one legislative session left before the tax could be in place.

Plus, he said, budget planning is starting in August this year.

Interim Yukon Party Leader Stacey Hassard said there are still not enough details about a carbon tax rebate for municipalities.

He said it's unfair to the municipalities if they don't have information about the rebate to share with their communities.

Corrections

  • This article previously stated that flights within the Yukon are subject to the carbon tax. In fact, in-Yukon flights are exempted from the carbon tax.
    May 14, 2018 12:30 PM CT

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now