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Carbon tax adding to inflation woes for B.C. residents

Prince George man says people paying price for carbon dioxide emissions essential for plant growth

Terry Ostashek says it’s time for the province to scrap the carbon tax it charges to British Columbians.

The 63-year-old Prince George resident says with inflation running rampant, the cost of goods and services keeps increasing and people are suffering as a result.

Ostashek read the recent Citizen article which told the story of Brian Wourms, a city resident whose January natural gas bill from Fortis BC showed the amount of carbon tax he was being charged was 49 per cent of the actual cost of the gas he used to heat his house.

“That carbon tax is actually a carbon dioxide tax,” said Ostashek. “When we use the word carbon, the average person thinks of dirty carbon in the atmosphere, but it’s actually a tax on carbon dioxide, which is a naturally-occurring gas that’s not a pollutant.

“The next time you fly into Vancouver, as you fly over Richmond look at all those greenhouses producing the peppers and tomatoes we buy at the grocery store. They all have in place carbon dioxide generators to  generate more CO2 because it helps plants grow.

“We’re being taxed on carbon dioxide, which we breathe out every time we exhale. I think if people realized that, more people would be (ticked) off like Brian is.”

According to an October 2021 BC Hydro report, 11 per cent of B.C’s annual greenhouse gas emissions (6.9 million tonnes) comes from heating buildings and homes and more than half the homes in the province rely on natural gas as the sole source of heat. The report also estimates the average B.C. home puts out two tonnes of CO2 every year, the equivalent of driving a fossil-fuelled car for 8,000 kilometres. 

When you crank up the thermostat of your natural gas furnace, combustion produces trace amounts of other greenhouse gasses, including nitrous oxide (N2O) and methane (CH4), but nearly all the fuel carbon in natural gas is converted to carbon dioxide when it’s burnt. Even in boilers or furnaces with poor efficiency, the amount of greenhouse gas, volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide and particulate matter is considered insignificant compared to the amount of carbon dioxide produced.

In April, the federal carbon price is set to increase from $50 to $65 per tonne, which the Canadian Taxpayers Federation says will increase the  carbon price for a litre of gasoline from 11.05 cents to 14.35 cents. 

Ostashek doesn’t have a problem with the province promoting energy efficiency and encouraging reduced emissions, especially the stinky particulate-laden exhaust diesel trucks spew out. But he says the province needs to rethink what the carbon tax to doing to eat away at people’s dwindling paycheques, especially low wage earners struggling to pay their bills.

“Have you looked at the price of food lately?” asks Ostashek.

“The carbon tax is impacting the grower, the guy shipping the product by truck, and Save-On-Foods is paying more to heat their store, and it all filters down,” he said.

“We’ve got seniors who are eating cat food instead of tuna because cat food is cheaper. Now with these increased carbon taxes on home heating, they’re already wearing the three sweaters they own, do they decide to turn down their furnace even more so they can afford tuna instead of cat food?”

Ostashek has a problem with policy makers in government choosing to tax all residents of the province equally, no matter where they live. There are no carbon tax breaks for people who live in cold winter climates and have to heat their homes and businesses to keep from freezing and use more fuel to warm up their vehicles as they trudge through snow to get to their jobs.

“I check my natural gas bill every month too and last month I was working out of town so I kept the heat turned down to 16C, and I got back and looked at the bill and  holy crap - I didn’t get a raise last year,” said Ostashek, a self-employed financial planner.

“Someone in the Lower Mainland screaming for more carbon taxes to save the planet doesn’t realize they’re calling for more carbon dioxide taxes for a gas that’s not a pollutant, and they’re racking up the costs for everyone living north of the Fraser Valley.”