South Peace News
The provincial carbon tax has hit some local businesses hard and others at a minimal impact.
Businesses that consume a high volume of fuel pay a big price and are frustrated by the tax.
“I think the carbon tax is ridiculous, it’s a cash grab,” says Arlen Quartly, president of High Prairie Oilmen’s Association.
When the carbon tax was introduced by the provincial NDP government one year ago to protect the environment, he predicted it would cost consumers five to 20 per cent more for all consumer goods and services.
“It’s just a cash flow into the government,” says Quartly, who owns Sunstone Energy Services Ltd.
“They’re not doing anything to improve the environment that we can see here.”
He says his trucks produce no emissions and to daily fill up a 1,000-litre tank for his many trucks quickly adds up the cost.
Still the company has to pay big bucks for the carbon tax.
“As for carbon emissions, Canada is not a dirty country,” Quartly says.
Implemented on Jan. 1, 2017, the initial levies were set for gasoline at 4.49 cents per litre, diesel at 5.35 cents per litre, propane at 3.08 cents per litre with natural gas at $1.011 per gigajoule.
The levies jumped on Jan. 1 for gasoline to 6.73 cents, for diesel to 8.08 cents, for propane to 4.62 cents, and natural gas to $1.517 per gigajoule.
The levy doesn’t apply directly to consumer purchases of electricity.
“It adds 5 per cent on our fuel bill right off the top,” Quartly says.
“That expense is passed on to the consumer and it trickles down.”
All consumer products sold in the community are delivered by truck and the carbon tax has “absolutely” caused the prices to rise, he says.
Instead of a carbon tax, he suggests another option for the government.
“If they figure they need more revenue, the government should have put in a sales tax of 1 or 2 per cent,” Quartly says.
“It would be a fair and equal way to do it.”
He contends the carbon tax is also unfair in another way.
“There are lots of people who don’t pay carbon tax and get rebates for one reason or another,” Quartly says.
One retail business owner says the impact of the carbon tax was not as hard in that sector of the economy.
“As a retail business, I have been able to easily adjust without increasing my prices,” says Tracy Sherkawi, who owns Glamour and Gear, and the president of the High Prairie and Area Chamber of Commerce one year ago.
“It’s almost like a hidden sales tax and consumers don’t look for the carbon tax on the price (of her products).”
She says the carbon tax was a bigger hit to businesses where more fuel is consumed.
“I know there are some businesses who felt the impact more because of their type of business,” Sherkawi says.
“There are ways to get around and deal with the increases.”
She was also able to get good deals with suppliers to minimize shipping costs.
“I took advantage of a rebate to change lighting in my store to LED, which has been a huge saving on my energy costs,” Sherkawi says.
She notes that consumers find the carbon tax softer than another option.
“We should be more concerned if the NDP government introduces a provincial sales tax,” Sherkawi says.