To the Editor:
CBC is asking today if Canada should take a gas tax holiday. Would it help with affordability and inflation? I don’t think so.
Gas taxes convert road usage into funding for related infrastructure. Cutting federal gas taxes will have almost zero impact on oil market prices and very little impact on prices at the pump, because the federal gas taxes are so low. They will, however, allow oil and gas companies to keep prices high while capturing more of the revenue. Underfunded infrastructure will cost us here at home.
Canada’s price on carbon pollution, with rebates to households, is a highly efficient policy that results in progressive outcomes. Most people in Ontario come out ahead. The policy is positioning Canada to be a leader in the emerging climate-resilient economy of this century. Weakening pollution pricing to deal with short-term price spikes would transfer income and opportunity from households back to the fossil fuel companies and will degrade Canada’s future prospects.
The latest IPCC Reports concluded it is now or never. Public money cannot finance the low-carbon transition by itself. The money that is needed is in the trillions of dollars. Governments must use policy instruments to successfully mobilize private sector financing at that scale.
At the same time, governments must address the affordability crisis. We can look to New Brunswick, where the Higgs government distributed a one-time payment to low-income residents of the province to help them deal with soaring gasoline and grocery bills. The Emergency Fuel and Food Benefit will see low-income individuals receive $225 and low-income families, including seniors, receive $450.
There’s no reason why the governments can’t redirect the billions of fossil fuels subsidies from oil and gas companies to help Canadians with their cost of living instead.