By Medicine Hat News Opinon on January 6, 2017.
Albertans often ask me how the Climate Leadership Plan will affect them and their families.
It’s a good question. And with all the fear-mongering out there about the plan, it can be hard to get to the truth.
Three benefits stand out:
First, the Climate Leadership Plan paved the way for the approval of the Trans Mountain Pipeline, a historic decision that will open up new markets for our energy products, creating tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity.
Second, the Climate Leadership Plan protects Albertans’ pocketbooks. Sixty per cent of Alberta families will get full carbon levy rebates. Those rebate cheques start arriving this month. And every penny raised by the levy will be invested back to diversify Alberta’s economy.
And third, all Albertans will benefit from energy efficiency programs that will save families money on their home heating bills.
These benefits from climate action are possible because the Climate Leadership Plan is made right here in Alberta â€” not Ottawa. It’s designed by Albertans, for Albertans. And that means our economy and our communities will see the most benefits from the actions we take.
New Markets forOur Energy Products
For far too long Albertans have had to sell our oil to one customer (the United States) at a discounted price. That means we’ve been short-changed on every barrel of oil we produce. It’s not fair.
Former conservative governments tried to address this, but all they did was create more conflict and mistrust, and nothing was accomplished.
With the Climate Leadership Plan, that’s changing. Last November, the federal government approved the Trans Mountain Pipeline to Canada’s west coast.
Why did Ottawa finally take this step?
Simple: Because Alberta is now a leader on climate change. Here’s what the prime minister said:
The federal government “could not have approved this project without the leadership of Premier Notley, and Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan â€” a plan that commits to pricing carbon and capping oilsands emissions at 100 megatonnes per year.”
Rebates for Families
A key part of the Climate Leadership Plan is the carbon levy. It went into effect on New Year’s Day. To protect family budgets, households will receive cash rebates to offset costs.
Here’s how it works:
Sixty per cent of households will get a full rebate of $200 for an adult, $100 for a spouse, and $30 for each child under 18 (up to four children). Those cheques start arriving this month.
Full rebates will be provided to single Albertans who earn $47,500 or less, and couples and families who earn $95,000 or less. An additional 6 per cent of households will receive a partial rebate.
In addition, the small business tax is being cut by 33 per cent, saving small business owners about $185 million a year. With this cut, Alberta now has the second lowest small business tax rate in the country. And with no provincial sales tax, health premiums or payroll tax, Alberta maintains a big tax advantage over our competitors.
Alberta has long been the only province in Canada without an energy efficiency program. As an energy leader, that just doesn’t make sense.
So starting early this year, Albertans will get help to make our homes and businesses more energy efficient. Programs will include free installation and rebates to improve energy efficiency and save money on our heating bills. There will also be incentives for businesses, non-profits and other institutions to install high-efficiency lighting, heating, cooling and hot water systems.
And for our farmers, there’s even more. Farm operations will be able to access separate funds to reduce their emissions and save on energy bills through efficiency upgrades.
These are just a few examples of how Albertans will benefit from putting a price on carbon. There’s much more, including investments in green energy, better infrastructure for our cities and towns, help for our coal workers and their communities, and an economy that’s ready for the future.
So don’t believe the fear-mongering about the carbon levy..
With the made-in-Alberta Climate Leadership Plan, Alberta is moving forward, taking our place as a global energy leader with new pipelines and new jobs in a stronger more diversified economy.
Shannon Phillips is Minister of Environment and Parks in the Government of Alberta.
Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA Drew Barnes, the Wildrose Party’s ‘shadow energy minister’, doesn’t agree with much of what guest columnist Phillips writes. He’ll have his retort in this space Saturday.
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