Opinion: Carbon tax hike a crushing blow for Alberta’s charitable sector

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On April 1, the Trudeau Liberals will raise the price of everything when they increase the disastrous carbon tax by another 23 per cent — a crushing blow for families and businesses.

Although this may seem like an April Fool’s Day prank, it will be anything but for people already struggling to cope with an affordability crisis that has made it impossible to make ends meet.

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As someone who spent years working in Alberta and Canada’s charitable sector, I’m especially concerned about the effect this latest carbon tax hike will have on the charities that do so much important work in our communities, often on shoestring budgets. Despite the important work charities do, these critical organizations get little forgiveness in paying the carbon tax. I consider this a national disgrace.

The repercussions of the carbon tax hike will only make life harder and more expensive for Alberta’s charities.

Our food banks are already witnessing unprecedented demand. Food bank use in Canada is up 78.5 per cent since 2019, and one in five Canadians report skipping meals due to increased food costs. Our food banks already struggle with sourcing nutritious food at affordable prices. This carbon tax hike will directly translate to increased transportation costs for food suppliers, which will inevitably trickle down to the food banks. As a result, food banks will be forced to stretch limited budgets even further, potentially reducing the quantity or quality of the food they provide at a time of record need.

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Moreover, many charities operate fleets of vehicles to deliver services, transport supplies or reach remote communities. The spike in fuel prices due to the carbon tax hike will significantly inflate operational expenses, diverting funds that could otherwise be allocated to front-line services. For organizations providing health-care services or emergency relief, every extra dollar spent on fuel is a dollar less for medical supplies.

Furthermore, the timing of this carbon tax increase couldn’t be worse for many charities already grappling with decreased donations (donations to charities dropped 12 per cent between 2019 and 2021), volunteer shortages and heightened demand for their services. The additional financial strain imposed by the tax hike jeopardizes their ability to sustain operations, forcing some to make agonizing choices between cutting essential services, reducing staff or even closing their doors for good.

Trudeau’s carbon tax hike represents a misguided policy that inflicts undue hardship on charities, undermining their ability to serve their communities and fulfil their missions. Rather than burdening those already stretched thin, policymakers should recognize the vital role that charities play in Canada’s social fabric and provide support mechanisms that enable, rather than inhibit, their operations.

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The federal government will claim that, when you look at the direct costs and benefits of the carbon tax, many Canadians are better off with it than without. But we now know, based on information from the Parliamentary Budget Officer, that many Canadians are worse off when you calculate all the indirect costs associated with the carbon tax.

Seventy per cent of Canadians and seven premiers want Trudeau to axe the tax, but he isn’t listening. He’s bulldozing ahead with this whopping increase on April 1 because he either doesn’t care about the affordability crisis Canadians are facing, or he’s too out of touch to understand it.

Either way, it’s time to axe the tax and kick the Trudeau Liberals to the curb.

Jeremy Nixon is Alberta’s former minister of Community, Seniors and Social Services, and is currently a Conservative Party of Canada federal nomination candidate for the Calgary-Signal Hill riding.

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