Smaller companies worry they can’t pass carbon tax costs to customers: poll

Ottawa says 90 per cent of the carbon-tax revenues it collects will be returned via rebates

A large proportion of small- and medium-sized businesses soon to be subjected to Ottawa’s carbon tax worry they’ll be unable to pass along the bulk of the extra costs to their customers, suggests a new survey being released Tuesday.

The online survey was completed by 3,527 members of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business in the four provinces — Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick — that will have to follow the Trudeau government’s carbon-pricing system as of April 1.

The lobby group has strongly opposed the federal carbon-tax plan out of concern it will pile on too many costs for smaller companies. In fact, more than two-thirds of the business owners that it polled don’t support any kind of carbon pricing program at all.

Ottawa says 90 per cent of the carbon-tax revenues it collects will be returned via rebates to households in each of the four provinces. Consumers will get by far the largest share because the government expects them to ultimately pay most of the new costs passed down from businesses.

But the findings of CFIB’s poll, conducted in November, suggest there’s concern most smaller companies will be unable to pass along their new costs — meaning these firms will end up subsidizing the rebate program for households, the report said.

About 80 per cent of the respondents said they didn’t think it would be easy for them to forward costs on to their customers. The poll found 55 per cent of those surveyed didn’t expect to pass on any of the additional costs, while 25 per cent said they would only be able to pass on less than 25 per cent of the extra costs.

“These findings should be deeply worrisome to public policy makers,” said the report, which also repeats CFIB’s concerns the carbon tax will arrive the same year that businesses’ Canada Pension Plan premiums start to rise.

“It means small firms will be forced to find the resources to pay the tax from the business itself, which means it may come at the expense of wages, jobs or future business growth.”

The Liberals’ carbon tax has generated intense political debate across the country and it’s destined to be a key campaign issue in October’s federal election.

The Liberal government has argued pollution is already getting expensive for Canadians as costs from climate-change-related weather events have climbed to more than $1 billion a year. The Liberals believe carbon pricing, which has been in place for years in provinces like British Columbia, Quebec and Ontario, is one of the best ways to lower emissions.

The federal climate change action plan also includes efforts to develop clean fuel standards, create new energy-efficiency building codes and phase out electricity generation from coal.

The opposition Conservatives have repeatedly called the Liberal plan a “tax grab” that will hurt the bottom lines of small businesses and families, kill jobs and make the country less competitive. Moving forward, the Tories warn carbon-tax bills will only get bigger.

Several provincial leaders have also become vocal opponents of the federal program.

The regime will be applied to Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick because they don’t have their own carbon-pricing system.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan, Ottawa carbon tax case ‘monumental’ for Constitution

READ MORE: Federal government’s carbon pricing could determine election results

Ottawa has said the remaining 10 per cent revenue share from the carbon tax will be dedicated to a program to help organizations, such as schools, that are unable to pass on the costs via higher prices. Part of this portion — worth about $1.5 billion — will also be used to help small- and medium-sized businesses adapt to carbon pricing over the next five years, the government has said.

Ottawa has yet to lay out the specifics of this element of its plan.

The report noted that some big industrial emitters will pay through a separate system that provides some relief to sectors heavily exposed to foreign competition. Smaller businesses, it added, have not been provided the same relief.

CFIB is calling on Ottawa to limit the impact on smaller businesses, including reassurance the same proportion of revenue collected from these firms is returned to them.

Andy Blatchford, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Petition to stop new cell tower too close to Kelowna homes

An online petition was started to stop cell tower construction near Ellison Elementary School

Local Kelowna project tabs restaurant workers for industry fundraiser

The 2nd Hungry Games invites fundraises for local charities

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: Clear skies and pushing 20 C

Environement Canada forcasts a sunny and warm Easter weekend

Peeling away: OK strip clubs disappearing

Hear from Penticton’s only strip club owner about their success in a dying industry

Berry: Sayonara journalism, it’s been fun

Lake Country had more in store than I bargained for

Update: Fire destroys Peachland home on Somerset Avenue

Crews are still on scene pumping water onto the blaze

Waste not: Kootenay brewery leftovers feed the local food chain

Spent grains from the Trail Beer Refinery are donated to local farmers and growers, none go to waste

Summerland student examines effects of sound

Science fair project will go to national competition in New Brunswick

Cuteness overload: duckling thinks dog is its mom

Vernon photographer Fiona Hook shot a cute video after noticing one of her ducklings had taken a special liking to her dog.

Fire near Vernon airport “not a concern”

Vernon firefighters attended the scene and found a resident performing a controlled burn

Sons of Anarchy’s Kim Coates stops by Okanagan café

Coates was spotted in West Bank’s Kekuli Café on April 20

B.C. women make 2,200 cabbage rolls for charity

The money raised was donated to former NHL player Aaron Volpatti, who is raising funds for ALS

Deck collapses in Langley during celebration, 35 people injured

Emergency responders rushed to the Langley home

B.C. mom wages battle to get back four kids taken from her in Egypt

Sara Lessing of Mission has help from Abbotsford law firm

Most Read