The carbon tax dominated question period at the B.C. legislature Monday, with the Official Opposition, BC United, calling for the NDP to follow Ottawa’s lead and give homeowners a break on heating their homes this winter.
“Why won’t the premier level the playing field and exempt all home heating from the carbon tax in British Columbia?” demanded BC United leader, Kevin Falcon.
Premier Eby responded with reference to the fact Falcon’s party previously brought in the tax. “I appreciate the member opposite now opposes the carbon tax—that’s his position to flip and flop over,” said Eby. “But for us, we’re going to continue supporting people.”
The sparks were ignited after the federal Liberals announced last Thursday they were giving a three-year break to the provinces where they impose the tax, along with rebates for switching from oil to heat pumps.
They are breaks aimed at Atlantic Canada, where upwards of a third of homes rely on oil for heat.
In B.C.—where the provincial government administers the carbon tax—Premier Eby said he was taken off guard by the sudden change by Ottawa.
“I was disappointed by the direction that really focussed on a particular heating rather than on protecting people,” said Eby.
In B.C., the provincial government says between 25,000 and 39,000 homes rely on oil for heat.
The Canadian Taxpayer Federation says the expense for those homes in B.C. should be waved.
“Just to heat your home this winter, your average British Columbian family is going to be spending $260 to $310 on the carbon tax alone,” said Carson Binda, the head of the B.C. chapter of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
Josie Osborne, B.C.’s minister of energy, mines and low carbon innovation, says the province is lobbying Ottawa for help with a bigger subsidy to help cover the cost of switching from fossil fuels to a heat pump.
“We’re going to push and push and push the federal government to do that with us,” said Osborne.
She said the province hasn’t decided about waiving carbon taxes for British Columbians on oil for heating homes.
“Just because the federal government made a rush decision like this doesn’t mean we have to too, but we’re looking at all options,” said Osborne.