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Survey: A Majority of Canadians Seek Reduction or Elimination of Carbon Tax

A majority of Canadians would like to see the reduction or complete elimination of the federal carbon tax, a recent Leger survey found.

Facing rising living costs, 55 percent of Canadians say they think the carbon tax should be either reduced (18 percent) or completely eliminated (37 percent), said the Montreal-based polling company in a release on Sept. 28

The survey found that most Canadians (68 percent) are not willing to pay higher taxes on gasoline to support the Liberal government’s net-zero carbon emissions goals. Even in Quebec, where there is relatively more support for maintaining or increasing the carbon tax, only 24 percent of residents favour this policy, according to the Leger survey.

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“Canadians appear to be reaching their limit in terms of what they are willing to pay to help meet a net-zero carbon emission policy,” said the survey.

In April, the carbon tax saw another 30 percent increase, raising it from $50 to $65 per tonne. This resulted in extra expenses for consumers at the gas pump, with prices surging from 11.05 cents to 14.31 cents per litre, as reported by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. Under this carbon pricing policy, fuel charge rates automatically increase every April 1, rising by $15 per tonne annually to reach $170 per tonne in 2030.
Notably, the Leger survey revealed that just over half (52 percent) of Canadians are informed about the federal government’s net-zero 2050 policy. This policy is designed to fulfill Canada’s commitment to the enhanced Paris Agreement target of reducing carbon emissions by 40 to 45 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.

Meanwhile, a majority of Canadians expressed skepticism about the feasibility of the net-zero policy, with 37 percent believing that the government’s 2050 deadline for achieving net-zero emissions is too ambitious, while 15 percent consider it a realistic goal. The survey pointed out that 35 percent of respondents feel that progress toward this goal is too slow, a view particularly pronounced among residents of Quebec.

Canadians have mixed views about the feasibility of transitioning away from natural gas in different sectors. The survey shows 43 percent of respondents believe that Canada can eliminate natural gas appliances and mandate the use of electric alternatives within 15 years. However, there is more skepticism surrounding other actions, such as banning natural gas for home heating by 2040, prohibiting the sale of new gas-powered vehicles by 2035, and restricting the operation of gas-powered vehicles in specific areas or during certain times of the day.

Overall, the survey says 19 percent of Canadians believe it is realistic for virtually all of Canada’s electricity generation to transition to non-carbon-emitting sources by the year 2035.

The carbon tax has prompted a significant portion of Canadians to modify their behaviour. About three in ten Canadians have taken specific actions due to the carbon tax, the survey says. This includes reducing travel (31 percent), driving less (30 percent), and conserving energy by keeping their homes cooler during the winter (27 percent).

Notably, these behavioural changes are more prevalent among individuals who are willing to pay higher gasoline prices to support Canada’s net-zero policy. Prairie residents are the least likely to have made changes in their travel or driving habits in response to the carbon tax, the survey says.

The poll was conducted online between Sept. 15 to Sept. 17, surveying 1,564 Canadians. For comparison purposes, it carries a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percent, 19 times out of 20.

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