Critics call out Alberta and federal governments for upcoming gas tax increases

As Albertans prepare for multiple increases to the cost of gas Monday due to the Federal Carbon Tax and the Provincial Gas Tax both going up, multiple groups are calling on those governments to change their minds.

By CityNews Staff

It’s almost here. Following the long weekend, Albertans will be hit with a “double whammy” in taxes on April 1, and critics are not letting the Alberta and federal government off the hook.

Ottawa will increase the federal carbon tax at the beginning of the month, sparking a charge of 17 cents per litre on gasoline and 21 cents per litre on diesel.

Natural gas will also see a 15 cents per cubic metre increase.

The Candian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) says the tax will cost about $12 extra to fill up a minivan and about $18 extra to fill up a pickup truck. It says truckers filling up their big rigs with diesel will pay about $200 extra.

“Albertans are getting a double whammy tax hike on Monday so they should fuel up this long weekend,” CTF Alberta director Kris Sims said.

“Gas taxes are going to jump by seven cents per litre on the same day.”

Gas prices have been rising in Calgary, with the average price up more than six cents in just a few days.

Sims wants Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to completely scrap the carbon tax.

She says the carbon tax will cost the average family in Alberta $911 this year, even after the rebates are factored in, referencing information from the Parliamentary Budget Officer.

Trudeau has repeatedly said that eligible Canadians receive more back in rebates than they pay in carbon tax at the pump or on natural gas.

Alberta not letting off the pedal

At the same time, the Alberta government is also bringing back a 13 cent per litre gas tax, a jump from the current nine cents per litre.

“It’s disappointing to see this fuel tax hike coming from both Ottawa and Edmonton,” Sims said.

“It’s pretty puzzling to see the NDP government in Manitoba and the Liberal government in Newfoundland and Labrador providing fuel tax relief for drivers, while the UCP government is cranking its fuel tax back up to full throttle here at home in Alberta.”

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith was pushed by Liberal MPs about the provincial gas tax increase while at the House of Commons on Thursday.

She said the provincial gas tax is less than the carbon price, and the province’s tax builds roads while the carbon price does not.

Alberta NDP transportation critic Lorne Dache questioned the timing of the increase and the reasoning from the Alberta government.

“Why would Danielle Smith choose this time to dip into Alberta’s pockets,” he told reporters Thursday.

“The simple argument is fuel taxes fund transportation infrastructure, like roads. Well, if infrastructure is critical, it should be funded and budgeted for, regardless of fluctuating fuel prices.”

Watch: Albertans concerned about gas tax increases

While speaking to the House of Commons, Smith attempted to get the federal government to scrap the carbon tax hike.

She called the increases “immoral and inhumane,” saying she was speaking on behalf of Albertans and Canadians who are “struggling with severe financial pressures.”

Meanwhile, premiers of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador have all asked Trudeau to forgo the planned increase.

Trudeau has pushed back against the premiers, saying they have not proposed better ideas to fight climate change.

This also comes as more than 200 economists associated with universities across the country took aim at Conservative claims in the carbon price policy debate. The group disagreed with the notion that the carbon price has driven up the cost of living and called out opponents for failing to pitch alternatives to reduce emissions.

A spokesperson for Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre said the party won’t be taking advice from “so-called experts” when it comes to carbon pricing.

With files from The Canadian Press

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