New Brunswick will be reimbursed 11.4 million in extra Carbon Tax funds collected while the Province was under the federal backstop program. Since these funds can’t be directly reimbursed to taxpayers now that the province has its own program, the Liberal Opposition is calling on the Higgs government to use these funds for environmental initiatives.
“The money collected from a carbon tax needs to be used in effort to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change. It’s that simple” says Liberal Environment critic Francine Landry. “If the funds can’t be directly reimbursed to the population, then it needs to be given back to taxpayers in the form of environmental initiatives. This is not an extra 11.4 million dollars for government to use as they wish, it’s taxpayer money dedicated to protecting the environment and must be used as such.”
While the pandemic has obviously taken a toll on the provincial budget and the economy, Francine Landry suggests these funds could be put towards environmental projects that also stimulate the economy.
“Investing in public transportation across the province, creating an incentive for the purchase of electric vehicles, and even enhancing the residential and commercial energy efficiency programs are all ways to simultaneously help our fight against climate change and contribute to New Brunswick’s economic recovery” says the Liberal MLA from Madawaska Les Lacs-Edmundston. “There are plenty of environmental projects and initiatives that could benefit from this kind of funding, under no circumstance should these funds go into the government’s pockets.”
It was recently revealed by MLA Andrea Anderson-Mason in the Public Accounts Committee that the Higgs government took around four million in carbon tax revenue left in the provincial climate change fund in 2019 and put it towards general revenue. “The Premier has been using the pandemic to justify his mismanagement of taxpayer dollars, especially when these funds come from Ottawa. He will likely use it as an excuse not to put the 11.4 million towards the environment, but the fact that he took four million of the climate change fund and put it towards general revenue almost year before the first appearance of Covid-19 exemplifies how little this government cares about the environment.”