Liberal MP questions whether 10% top-up of carbon tax rebate is adequate for rural Canadians

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The 10 per cent top-up to the federal government’s carbon tax rebate for rural Canadians should be re-evaluated, according to a Liberal MP from rural Nova Scotia.

As part of debate in the House of Commons on Tuesday over a Conservative motion to cancel the federal price on carbon, Kody Blois told his colleagues he thinks the 10 per cent rural supplement to the rebate should be reviewed to determine whether it’s adequate to make up the difference in the amount paid by rural versus urban Canadians.

“There are areas where I think the carbon price system could be looked at and adjusted,” noted Blois, who chairs the House of Commons’ agriculture committee. “I think that there is an opportunity to look at whether 10 per cent is an adequate enough amount to make up for the difference between some of the lived realities of rural constituents and urban.

“That does not mean I am against carbon pricing. That means I would like to see if we could look at amendments,” he continued.

Blois said he’s also worried the definition of “rural” might be too narrow.

“My understanding is that the way it is calculated right now is on a census metropolitan area. The Halifax Regional Municipality, or HRM, for example, would be considered an urban municipality, but not all areas within HRM could certainly meet the definition of an urban community. Those are little areas I think we could look at and that I think can make sure this policy reflects, attracts and benefits as many people as possible,” he noted.

Kody Blois looking at feed while visiting a cattle operation in Saskatchewan
Kody Blois (right) during a visit to Saskatchewan in 2022.

Officially named the Climate Action Incentive Payment (CAIP), the tax-free payments are sent to residents of provinces where the federal carbon tax or fuel charge is applied — Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. Residents of Blois’ home province of Nova Scotia, as well as PEI and Newfoundland & Labrador, will receive their first CAIP cheques in July 2023.

Prior to July 2022, the rebate was a refundable tax credit claimed annually on personal income tax returns, rather than a quarterly cheque.

The Liberal government is also offering farmers a separate refundable tax credit that it says is meant to return carbon price proceeds from on-farm fuel use, such as grain drying and barn heating. For 2022, the credit was set at $1.73 for every $1000 in eligible farm expenses.

Bill C-234, the private member’s bill that would completely exempt propane and natural gas used for farm purposes, is currently at the debate stage at third reading in the House of Commons, awaiting final approval before being sent to the Senate. The bill has support from Conservative, New Democrat, and Bloc Quebecois MPs. Blois was the lone Liberal to vote in favour of the bill at second reading.

The federal price on carbon will be increasing from $50 to $65/tonne CO2 equivalent on April 1, 2023, and is scheduled to rise to $170/tonne by 2030.

Related:

Ag committee approves bill to exempt on-farm grain drying and barn heating from carbon tax

Fiscal update includes details on promised carbon tax rebate for farms

Liberal MP Kody Blois visits Saskatchewan to gain perspective on ag industry

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