Why are Albertans getting nearly $200 today and we aren’t?

Apr 14 2023, 8:06 pm

The Canadian government is handing out hundreds of dollars to thousands of families today, but if you live in BC, you won’t be so lucky.

Today is the day that Ottawa is giving out the Climate Action Incentive (CAI) payments, and our neighbour, Alberta, is seeing the biggest cheque out of all the participating provinces.

But because BC is not on that list, we aren’t getting the cash.

Why Alberta?

Under the federal pollution pricing system, the government puts a price on pollution in regions that do not have their own pricing system, which includes Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario. Some eligible residents in those provinces then get money back from that fund.

Late last year, the federal government announced that come April 1, 2023, Albertans will see their rebate amounts increase.

On April 14, that will mean a family of four could see $386 in Alberta, $340 in Saskatchewan, $264 in Manitoba, and $244 in Ontario. When it comes to single Albertans, that total comes to $193. It’s the first of four payments, so by 2024, an Albertan family could see more than $1,500.

If they live in a rural area, they could even get 10% more.

A single person could get nearly $200.

“What’s in a name?”

But while British Columbians may be feeling the freeze today, it wouldn’t be accurate to say residents don’t receive money for a carbon tax.

BC was actually the first to bring in a broad-based carbon tax in all of North America and because it already has its own pollution pricing system in place, the federal government has allowed the province to retain all the proceeds to use as they see fit.

Because it’s a different system, the amount is different. As determined by the province, for some eligible families, that meant about $500 last year.

Carbon tax

“The provinces and territories on the map of Canada are one of three colours depending on whether the federal backstop applies in full, in part or not at all.” (canada.ca)

To make things a bit more confusing, there was a rebate this month — but it was a combined payment. That money was from the BC Affordability Credit plus the Climate Action Tax Credit and you had to have filed your taxes and be within the income threshold to get it.

A single person receiving the full amount would have gotten $212, and a family of four receiving the full amount would have received $535, the Ministry of Finance told Daily Hive.

But more $ is coming

Budget 2023 proposes to increase the B.C. climate action tax credit amounts starting in the summer.

“For the July 2023, October 2023, January 2024 and April 2024 payments, the maximum annual amounts will increase to: $447 for you, $223.50 for your spouse or common-law partner (or for the first child in a single parent family) $111.50 for each child (except the first child in a single parent family).”

That means about $400 more next year than last year, the Ministry said.

It’s aimed to help low-income people, so not everyone gets the cash. But, the threshold amounts will increase to $39,115 for individuals, and $50,170 for families for the next payments in an effort to get more families some financial help as the cost of living continues to soar.

While that might be a nice boost, it’s not exactly “free” money.

oil prices

Kat Om/Shutterstock

For drivers in BC, and especially Metro Vancouver, they might notice they are paying a lot of tax on gas lately, which in turn goes back towards the rebate.

The carbon tax in BC jumped earlier this month and will keep rising in the years to come in order to align with federal targets. But, the province says the rebates will rise along with it, for eligible British Columbians, of course.

“We expect that most people who receive the credit will get back more money than they pay in carbon tax,” the ministry told Daily Hive.

Read more about that here.

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