On Monday, Ontario, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan and Manitoba will officially have a price on carbon. The carbon price will be implemented under the “federal government backstop” and will mean that Canada will now have a form of carbon pricing in every province and territory.
Carbon pricing has received a lot of attention in recent years because it’s been widely supported by economists and policymakers as a fair and affordable way to address climate change. The federal carbon pricing program that goes into effect on Monday includes a rebate, which means that all the money collected goes back to households and businesses. Eight in 10 Canadians are expected to receive more in rebates than they pay in extra costs.
But that hasn’t stopped opponents from attacking the policy. In Ontario, the policy has been mischaracterized by some elected leaders as an added cost burden. They’ve focused particularly on suburban areas of Toronto where there are a disproportionate number of commuters, especially because they know these suburban regions tend to be an important electoral battleground.
So how do commuters in Ontario feel about the policy? New data we released today along with University of Toronto shows that that’s not the case.
In fact, we found that carbon pricing is supported or accepted by 59% of Ontarians in the commuter regions of the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area (i.e. the full GTHA excluding downtown Toronto), compared to 28% who oppose the policy and 13% who are undecided.
When told that all the money from carbon pricing would go back to households and businesses, we found 48% of those who are against the policy policy switch their position to support or accept. When asked how their views would change if they received a rebate that exceeded their costs (as will be the case for an estimated 8 out of 10 Ontarians, according to the federal government), 60% of those who opposed switched their position to support or accept. The federal government has said the average Ontario household will receive a rebate – called the Climate Action Incentive – of $307 through their income tax return this spring.
However, we also found that understanding about the rebate is low – just 41% of Ontarians in the surveyed area were aware of the federal government’s plan to rebate money to households and businesses.
“It’s clear from this poll that most people in the commuter regions of Toronto and Hamilton are comfortable with carbon pricing, and even most people who oppose it change their minds once given basic details about how carbon pricing works. The carbon rebate is the key – it means Ontarians don’t have to choose between protecting the planet and protecting their pocketbook” said Michael Bernstein, Senior Vice President for Policy & Strategy at Clean Prosperity, “when told about the rebate, over 70% of respondents support or accept the policy. The bottom line is that carbon pricing with rebates is a fair, affordable and effective way to address the urgent challenge of climate change.”