A BC United government would immediately remove the provincial carbon tax from all home heating fuels including heating oil and natural gas and axe the provincial fuel tax.
These moves along with the cancellation of pending provincial carbon tax hikes are among the pledges revealed by BC United leader Kevin Falcon and his team outside the legislature today.
Falcon also promised that a government under his leadership would remove the carbon tax from on-farm fuel use. This move — coupled with the elimination of the provincial fuel tax — would make groceries more affordable, Falcon said.
The carbon tax currently sits at $65 per tonne of CO2 as of April 1, 2023. Annual increases will bring the tax rate to $170 per tonne by 2030, something British Columbians cannot afford, Falcon said.
Permanent elimination of the provincial fuel tax, meanwhile, promises to save drivers up to 15 cents per litre on gasoline.
Falcon said these measures reflect his party’s commitment to “common-sense solutions” to cut costs.
“(They) are just the beginning of our ongoing efforts to address the cost-of-living crisis,” he added. “To make life more affordable for people, we must make life less expensive — it’s that simple.”
The proposed measures would save B.C. taxpayers about $4.72 billion over three years, but create a corresponding shortfall adding up to about two per cent in government revenue.
Falcon said his government would easily find the money to cover the shortfalls by eliminating what he considers unnecessary bureaucracy and other NDP policies, adding that such cuts would not impact front-line staff in schools and hospitals.
He also rejected suggestions that these proposals appear to be a policy shift away from the environment.
He said his government would introduce robust environmental policies that would help retain B.C.’s status as an environmental leader and actually bring results, noting British Columbians facing rising costs through the carbon tax without corresponding cuts in emissions.
Looming behind these proposals is the overall fate of carbon taxation in Canada. Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre said his party, which is currently leading by wide margins in the polls ahead of the federal Liberals of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, has promised to get rid of the federal carbon tax.
Falcon said B.C. would not keep its carbon tax in place if the Conservatives were elected.
Things, however, would get complicated if the federal Liberals were to stay in power. B.C.’s carbon tax matched Ottawa’s carbon tax at $50 per tonne in 2022 and both rates will eventually reach $170 per tonne.
Any efforts by B.C. to trim back the carbon tax or even cut it entirely would draw opposition from a Liberal federal government.
Falcon promised that his government would “fight” for B.C. without offering specifics.
New Democrats pounced on the proposals, even before they become fully public. Referencing Halloween, Premier David Eby said during Question Period that Falcon had dressed up as “weather vane” in accusing BC United of abandoning its support for carbon taxation and the environment in response to pressure from the Conservative Party of BC, who want to get rid of the provincial carbon tax.
Falcon said he was proud to have been part of the government that first introduced the carbon tax before accusing New Democrats of turning the measure into a “tax grab” that does not help the environment.
The carbon tax is approaching levels that will be “devastating” for families in British Columbia, he said.
“(I) cannot support that when circumstances change and you see the impact it’s having on people and importantly, you also don’t see reduced emissions resulting from it,” he said. “That’s when you have got to pivot and look at other things that we can do to achieve better outcomes.”