Doug Ford’s PC government says it’s moving forward on an election promise to “end the cap-and-trade and carbon tax era” in Ontario, a promise it says will reduce gas prices by 10 cents per litre.
Recently, newly elected Ontario Premier Doug Ford said that, as the first order of business of what his team calls the “Ontario’s Government for the People,” his cabinet revoked the regulation that he argues “punishes Ontario residents at the gas pump through a wasteful cap-and-trade carbon tax regime.”
This measure came into effect on July 3.
Ford says the provincial government will begin a wind-down of all programs funded out of cap-and-trade carbon tax revenues.
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“Every cent spent from the cap-and-trade slush fund is money that has been taken out of the pockets of Ontario families and businesses,” said Ford in a news release.
“We believe that this money belongs back in the pockets of people. Cancelling the cap-and-trade carbon tax will result in lower prices at the gas pump, on your home heating bills and on virtually every other product that you buy.”
According to a recent CBC News article, Ford’s move could prompt the federal government to implement its own carbon tax in Ontario.
Ford says an audit of the the cap-and-trade system revealed that the program could cost Ontario consumers and businesses $8 billion and do little to reduce emissions.
“Cap-and-trade and carbon tax schemes are no more than government cash grabs that do nothing for the environment, while hitting people in the wallet in order to fund big government programs,” said Ford. “I promised that the party with taxpayers’ dollars was over and that this would include scrapping the cap-and-trade carbon tax slush fund. Today we are keeping that promise.”
Ford’s promise to cancel cap-and-trade has been criticized by environmental advocacy groups, including Environmental Defence.
“The cancellation of cap-and-trade is a bad idea for many reasons. Cap-and-trade is the lowest cost way for Ontario to comply with Ottawa’s carbon pricing plan. Ontario businesses are literally invested in cap-and-trade, having bought over $2.8 billion in permits,” the organization wrote in a recent news release.
“The Ontario government will need to find billions of dollars to buy back those permits, or risk being sued.”
The organization argues that the new legislation–which it suggests will prompt Ottawa to act–will hurt local businesses.
“The cancellation of cap-and-trade presumably also means the cancellation of the many programs it funds. This means no more money to help businesses become more energy efficient, no money for social housing energy retrofits, and no money for colleges, universities and hospitals to reduce their energy use. It means no funding for cycling infrastructure, electric vehicles, and public transit. And it likely means an end to programs aimed to help homeowners reduce their carbon emissions, like free smart thermostats, and rebates for energy efficient windows and insulation.”
Ford says the province will honour arrangements where contracts have already been signed and orders have already been made, such as energy efficient insulation and window retrofits.
He said that decisions to continue any specific initiatives currently supported by the fund will need to be paid for out of the tax base and will be made on a” case-by-case basis in alignment” with the province’s plan and the upcoming value-for-money audit.
“We are getting Ontario out of the carbon tax business,” concluded Ford. “Our focus will be to give people lower gas prices, lower energy bills and a real break in their wallets in order to get our economy going and create jobs. Help is here.”