A Little Dignity Please – “Carbon Tax Relief Fund”

the state or quality of being worthy of honour or respect.
a high rank or position.
a composed or serious manner or style.
a sense of pride in oneself; self-respect.

Oxford Languages

Manitoba’s premier, Heather Stefanson, announced a one-time “Carbon Tax Relief Fund” payment to Manitoba Households this week. The payment, which will cost Manitoba’s taxpayers $200 million, will go to all Manitobans over 18 and with a net household income of less than $175,000. The payments will be $225 for single folks and $375 for couples.

Let’s unpack this a bit.

Is this Worthy of Respect?

The implication in the naming the “Climate Tax Relief Fund” is that the inflation stress people are facing is due entirely to the Federal Climate Action Incentive programme (aka Carbon Tax).

There is barely an inkling of truth in the Manitoba Government’s narrative. Yes, the Carbon Tax goes up a few cents every year. Far more relevant are the aftershocks of Covid’s effect on global economy and supply chains, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine causing commodity price problems, increasing demands on Canada’s economy while readjusting to life after Covid all play a role.

The Bank of Canada attributes current inflationary trends to a number of factors, none of which are the Carbon Tax.

Indeed, global inflationary pressures stepped up in 2022. The unprovoked Russian invasion of Ukraine in February drove up the prices of commodities—particularly energy and agricultural goods—and created new disruptions to already impaired global supply chains. Canadians experienced these effects almost immediately with higher gas prices at the pump and big price increases for many basic food items at the grocery store.

Bank of Canada

As such, characterizing this cheque as carbon tax relief is not much better than a lie and not worthy of our respect.

An Absence of Leadership

Stefanson’s role of Premier makes her responsible for leading Manitobans through difficult challenges. Yes, inflation is a concern for many people. It is making basic necessities more expensive, putting a strain on household food and energy budgets.

Stefanson’s announcement, however, completely ignores the looming existential problem of climate change and ecological degradation. Not only does she ignore it but she is actively working to undermine progress on climate change initiatives.

Note some of the comments on CBCs article on the initiative:

“It is welcomed since everything has gone up with the carbon taxes. I wish this was Canada-wide. It could be if the carbon taxes were axed.

“Thank you, premier. It’s always a good thing to get be able to keep more of my hard-earned money. The carbon tax is hurting myself and many others.

These folks have been led to believe that a 2.2 cent per litre increase in fuel taxes last April has caused all of this year’s increases in food and fuel costs. The fact that fuel at the pump in Winnipeg has varied by almost 50 cents per litre over the year is entirely lost. This is not because of the Carbon Tax.

Worse, much worse, is that at a time when we should all be pulling together to deal with the existential threat of climate change, Stefanson chooses to encourage denialism and undermine efforts to actually help. Lying to people, pandering to a political untruth, and ultimately increasing the danger to all of us, is a disgraceful use of the power of the position she is in.

Are You Being Serious Right Now?

Helping households earning less than $175,000.

Nobody earning $175,000 net income per year needs a $375 handout. The average individual gross income in Manitoba in 2020 was $48,200.

If Stefanson were serious, they would have put the top limit considerably lower and given more money to those who are really in need of help to pay for food, heat, and shelter.

If Stefanson were serious, she would not have made hardship about fuel, recognizing that, for an awful lot of Manitobans, putting food on the table, buying important medicines, affording rent, and paying for public transit, is far more relevant and important than two tanks of gas for their F-150s, Navigators, and Sequoias.

It is getting hard to afford the basic necessities. We hear Manitobans when they say they can hardly afford to put gas in their cars.

Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson

If Stefanson were a serious leader of a province and people, she wouldn’t be trying to buy the votes of wealthy Manitobans. (It also doesn’t surprise us to see that Manitoba MLAs and cabinet ministers also still qualify for this payment)

Where’s the Dignity?

There is so much wrong with this benefit.

After two Conservative tax cuts that have hurt healthcare and other public spending, to offer a pittance to Manitobans out of their own tax dollars, is entirely undignified.

To give the rebate to the wealthy, while those same tax cuts disproportionately helped the wealthy, is undignified.

To make egregiously misleading attacks on a climate change mitigation initiative in the process of pandering to voters, rather than leading us through a crisis, is undignified.

To simply ignore the fact that Manitobans already receive the Federal Climate Action Initiative’s rebate cheques is a major omission. In fact, most Manitobans will receive more from the Federal Government’s rebate than this provincial rebate and most will likely receive more in rebate than they spend in carbon taxes.

NOTE: there have been quiet rumblings that Manitoba might create its own carbon tax and stop using the federal programme. Anyone want to bet that the funds will just disappear into general revenue and we will all lose our rebates?

What a disgracefully transparent attempt at vote buying.

A Little Disclosure

I’m likely to receive one of these rebate cheques. I’ll keep everyone up-to-date but my intention is to donate the entirety to a Manitoba-based Climate or Environmental charity.

I’ll keep you posted. And suggest you consider the same.

2 thoughts on “A Little Dignity Please – “Carbon Tax Relief Fund”

  1. Thank you for so clearly outlining the self serving nature of this misnamed attempt at vote buying Blair!

  2. Well said Blair, and it’s worth noting that BC’s carbon tax, the first in Canada and introduced by a Liberal (conservative) government, is rarely mentioned here. I think most people understand the point you’re making, that it’s such a small part of the cost of a litre of gasoline (and all of the other fuels) that it’s hardly worth worrying about. And in fact, I think that’s it’s biggest problem: it should be higher so that it has more of an effect on purchasing behaviour.

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