Environment Minister Catherine McKenna says she has given notice to the provincial government in Alberta that the federal government will begin imposing its price on carbon in the province beginning Jan. 1, 2020.
McKenna made the announcement in Ottawa today, a week after Alberta’s Lt.-Gov. Lois Mitchell signed the province’s Carbon Tax Repeal Act into law.
“As a result of Alberta’s decision to make it free to pollute in Alberta, we will have the federal price on pollution,” she said. “It’s unfortunate, because Alberta had a made-in-Alberta plan to put a price on pollution.”
McKenna said Canada needs Alberta to take part in the pan-Canadian framework on climate change because it’s the province with the highest emissions in the country.
Under the terms of the framework — a deal agreed to by most of the provinces and the federal government in December 2016 — provinces had to develop policies to put a price on carbon through a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system.
As a part of the plan, Ottawa said it would impose a tax on provinces that refuse to develop their own plans — at a rate of $20 on every tonne of greenhouse gas emissions starting in 2019, rising by $10 each year to $50 a tonne by 2022.
McKenna said that, by law, 100 per cent of the revenues collected federally will go back to Alberta — 90 per cent returned to families and the remaining 10 per cent directed to funding schools, hospitals, municipalities and green energy initiatives.
But because that revenue is being returned to families, a family of four in Alberta will be able to claim a rebate of $888 when they file their income taxes next year, she said.
“Its unfortunate that we’re in this situation with another conservative premier … who doesn’t seem to understand that pricing pollution is proven, that provinces that have had a price on pollution have been the fastest-growing in the country and pricing pollution is the most efficient way to reduce emissions,” McKenna said.
Before losing the provincial election in April, NDP Premier Rachel Notley introduced a carbon tax in Alberta. The tax was imposed in 2015 but it did not take effect until Jan. 1, 2017.
It started at $20 per tonne of carbon emissions and increased to $30 the following year — but the annual price increases were put on hold by Notley after the construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline was halted.
The Carbon Tax Repeal Act was the first piece of legislation introduced by Premier Jason Kenney and his newly elected United Conservative government.
Kenney won the provincial election on a promise to kill the tax, saying it hadn’t helped to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and took money out of the pockets of working families.
Kenney said his government will continue with a tax on large industrial greenhouse gas emitters and has promised to challenge the constitutionality of the federal carbon tax in court.
Alberta now joins four other provinces led by centre-right premiers — Ontario, New Brunswick, Manitoba and Saskatchewan — which have cancelled their provincial plans only to see the federal government impose its own.