Professor questions omission of carbon pricing from P.E.I. budget
'I really don't know why there's all this secrecy'
UPEI economics professor Jim Sentance believes the Prince Edward Island government should release the details of its carbon pricing plan immediately.
Sentance said he was surprised the information wasn't in Friday's budget but provincial officials say they're still negotiating the details with Ottawa.
The federal government has asked for provinces to submit their plans by Sept. 1, with carbon pricing set to start some time this year. The idea is to put a price on pollution that will encourage individuals and industry to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
"I think they're leaving it a bit late in terms of allowing any discussion of what they've decided with the province," Sentance said. "You're barely leaving time to implement something, let alone change your mind or refine it."
'Give that back to the people'
Sentance is less interested in how and how much the province will tax or price carbon, and more interested in how the government will spend the revenue it generates.
"Some provinces have found ways to basically give that back to people," Sentance said. "Cut other taxes and maybe target a bit of money toward lower-income people so it's not a hugely regressive tax."
That way, people can decide how they can best lower their carbon footprint — be it insulating their home, installing solar panels or buying an electric car, Sentance said. If the province spends the carbon revenue on its own green initiatives, government is deciding how the Island will adjust to a lower-carbon future.
"Whatever they're doing, I really don't know why there's all this secrecy," Sentance said. He hopes to see the details on this and the audited provincial accounts before a provincial election is called, he added, so Islanders can see whether the budget's goals were achieved.
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With files from Laura Chapin