By 2019, the federal government will impose the Canadian carbon tax on the remaining provinces that have not created their own climate change plan.  Video Blocks photo.

Canadian carbon tax will reach $50 per ton by 2022

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his government will impose a carbon tax on the remaining four provinces not signed on to a climate change plan beginning next year.

“Starting next spring, it’ll no longer be free to pollute in Canada,” Trudeau tweeted out Tuesday morning.

New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan will be put under the federal carbon tax plan that will see carbon pollution initially cost $20 a ton and will rise by $10 a year until it reaches $50 per ton by 2022.

“The effects of climate change are everywhere, and they are a constant reminder of the need to act now,” said Trudeau in a statement.  The Liberal government calls the federal carbon tax “the next step in the government’s plan to protect the environment and grow the economy”.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the Trudeau government proclaimed that “Canadians know pollution isn’t free”.

At a press conference, Trudeau said all the money collected would be returned directly to taxpayers in the four affected provinces that have not created their own plans to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

As well, money from the tax will be given to the provinces’ cities, schools, hospitals, businesses, and Indigenous communities to help them become more energy efficient and reduce emissions. The government says the carbon tax will help “Canadians save even more money, and improve our local economies”.

“Probably the biggest story here: 90% of revenue generated by the backstop will be returned to households (not governments) in the province in which they were generated. Bigger households get bigger cheques,” tweeted Ecofiscal Commission economist Dale Beugin.

Rebates “make the net policy package (pricing + recycling) progressive: low income households will see relatively smaller costs (or even benefits) as a share of their income.”

The opposition Conservatives say they will scrap the carbon tax if they are elected in the 2019 federal election.  While leader Andrew Scheer has not yet announced his climate change plan, he told reporters that the Trudeau carbon tax would make it more expensive for ordinary Canadians to drive their cars and heat their homes.

Newly-elected Ontario premier Rob Ford says he will take the federal government to court over the Canadian carbon tax plan.  And one month after winning a majority election, Ford moved to end the province’s cap-and-trade program, he called a “cash grab” that did nothing for the environment.

Meanwhile in Alberta, the provincial NDP government brought in a carbon tax early last year, however, there is an vote looming next spring and the right-wing United Conservative Party is currently expected to win the election.

Jason Kenney’s UCP opposes the carbon tax which was heralded by most oil sands companies.

Trudeau countered the conservative politicians’ opposition to the carbon tax, asking “the question for conservative politicians is if they do not want to act, who do they expect to act in their stead?”

Catherine Abreu of Climate Action Network Canada told Reuters that “The federal government has done what is necessary to get this important tool in play while easing any financial burden it may have on Canadians”.

According to official data, Canada currently is not likely to meet its climate change goals of cutting GHG emissions by 30 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030.