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When the levy breaks

Carbon levy rebates met with confusion

Alberta’s carbon levy came into effect on Jan. 1, and the first batch of rebates has been issued with little fanfare.

Some friends and I were talking about receiving the rebates and how it would be a great bonus at the start of the semester. I was taken aback when I realized my friends had just received their rebates, but had assumed their GST cheques had doubled.

Our conversation made me wonder how many people had the same experience receiving a carbon levy rebate without even realizing. 

They may not have known because they hadn’t done the research. However, another factor became clear, the provincial government needs to find another way to reach out and educate people.

As of Jan. 10, the provincial government began issuing rebates. So far, over one million dollars in payments have been released, and the issuing of payments has led to some major confusion.

It can be unclear to many people that they have received rebate cheques or how much of a rebate they can expect to receive in the future. 

The Alberta government needs to make it easier for people to understand when the rebates are issued and how the rebates will work. 

 “I’ve been waiting for [the carbon levy rebate],” said Josh Arseneau, a Calgary resident. However, Arseneau was unclear on when, how much or even if he would receive a rebate. Arseneau was not even sure if he had already received his payment.

There is a failure to communicate between the government and the people. Both need to meet halfway to make the carbon levy work. People need to make an effort to be informed, and the government can try different avenues to make it easier for people to understand. 

“It’s just another thing to tax us on. What’s it going to benefit?”

For the record, the levy will benefit the environment as it has been proven to be the most effective tactic in reducing green house gas emissions. The money generated can also help drive innovation in energy efficient industries, leading to new jobs and aiding in creating new markets within the province. 

This has been the problem: there are many benefits from the carbon levy, including the tangible bonus of cash in hands for lower income people, including SAIT students.

 In the end, after all payments have been issued, the rebates will total approximately $138 million, and 60 per cent of Alberta households will receive a rebate. 

When asking around campus, the majority of students were not always sure if they had been issued a rebate. It was clear that people need to take five minutes to do some Googling. 

A big part of the confusion was that GST cheques and the carbon levy cheques were released at the same time and look exactly the same.

Also, there have been concerns throughout Alberta that the tax will hurt Albertans at a time when the province is experiencing an economic recession. There is a fear it will discourage investment in the province because it will be too expensive for companies.

For now, enjoy your rebate if you have received one, but don’t trust the government to inform you on how it works. 

Take the time to do some research and visit https://www.alberta.ca/climate-carbon-pricing.aspx 

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