Carbon-taxes and low-income Nova Scotians (8 January)

Before Canada embarks on a carbon-tax, it must be carefully thought through. In Nova Scotia, where fuel oil can cost over 90 cents per litre and about 60 percent of homes are heated by fuel oil, many Nova Scotians are finding it difficult to heat their homes this winter. If, as proposed by the Friends of the Earth (New rules to target overall emissions, Baird vows, 8 January), a 3 cent/kWh carbon tax were applied to coal-generated electricity (about 80 percent of Nova Scotia’s electricity comes from coal and petcoke) and a 10 cent/litre gasoline tax were applied to both gasoline and home heating oil, the additional cost to a “typical” one-car Nova Scotian family would be about $650 per year.

It is unclear how low-income Nova Scotians (and Canadians for that matter) could afford increases of this magnitude to their energy bills. If Canada is to proceed with a carbon tax, programs must be in place to assist those on low-income reduce their energy needs and replace high-carbon fuels with low-carbon ones.

Submitted to Globe and Mail 8 January 2008. Unpublished.