The Yukon government says that when it calls the territory’s carbon tax rebate “revenue neutral” it means the territory will return all revenues to Yukoners, not necessarily that every Yukoner will get back exactly what they paid.
“The revenue neutral that I refer to in (saying) revenue neutral is for the Yukon government, meaning we’re not going to keep the money,” said cabinet spokesperson Sunny Patch.
“That’s the intention behind the revenue neutral term.”
Patch said the territorial government will not make money off the carbon tax when it is implemented by the federal government sometime in 2018.
The Yukon Party criticized the territorial government earlier this week over a suggestion that certain people or businesses could get more of a rebate than others.
In a survey issued earlier this week, the government wants opinions on whether people like seniors or rural Yukoners should get more of the money.
The Opposition accused the government of picking winners and losers and not ensuring that the carbon tax was revenue neutral for individual people or businesses.
The Liberal election platform promises that all the carbon tax would “be distributed back to individual Yukoners and businesses through a rebate.”
The Yukon Party points to a quote from Premier Sandy Silver in April when he said the government would “make sure that 100 per cent of that tax stays in the Yukon so that it is truly revenue neutral for Yukon businesses and Yukon families.”
Patch said she couldn’t promise that individual Yukoners will get the exact amount back that they spend on carbon tax.
Asked whether she thought Yukoners would accuse the government of misrepresenting its position if some of them end up getting less back, Patch said, “That’s a difficult one to answer.”
“We will return all the money to Yukoners, we’re working on how that rebate will look and we will endeavour to make a rebate that works properly for the people of Yukon.”
Meanwhile federal officials with Environment and Climate Change Canada were in Whitehorse, Dawson City and Haines Junction Aug. 17 and 18 to hold closed-door sessions on the carbon tax.
The meetings were for representatives from municipal and First Nations governments as well as industry. The media was not allowed in.
“Not all participants are necessarily comfortable with their comments being on the public record, and we want to elicit frank and open comment on carbon pricing in the Yukon,” federal spokesperson Mark Johnson said in an email.
The federal government has promised that a study on the impacts of a carbon tax in the Yukon will be completed this fall, before any decisions are made on how the tax will be implemented here.
No public meetings were planned in relation to the study. Johnson said the government is “comfortable with our approach” and that the public will have other opportunities to comment before the tax is implemented.
A Canada-wide public comment period closed June 30.
“By no means are we at the end of the process,” Johnson said. “While I can’t provide specifics yet as the decisions have not yet been made, we certainly expect more opportunities for public engagement down the road.”
The territorial government has created an email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, to collect opinions and pass them on to the federal government.
Contact Ashley Joannou at email@example.com