Five simple things Trudeau could do to make life more affordable for Canadians

Franco TerrazzanoFiguring out how to make life more affordable for Canadians shouldn’t be like unravelling Einstein’s theory of relativity.

If Prime Minister Justin Trudeau won’t do the big things to make life more affordable, he could at least do the little things.

“We know Canadians are facing challenging times right now, people are squeezed between the cost of groceries, rents,” Trudeau said during a cabinet retreat in Montreal aimed at “bringing down the cost of living.”

Trudeau knows “people are squeezed” because his tax hikes are some of the things that are doing the squeezing.

Take the carbon tax. Trudeau may never scrap his carbon tax, but he could at least not raise it again on April 1.

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Even after the rebates, average families will be out hundreds of dollars this year because of the higher heating bills, gas prices, inflation and the economic damage wrought by the carbon tax, according to the Parliamentary Budget Officer.

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Governments of all political stripes have paused fuel taxes to provide relief.

British Columbia’s New Democrats delayed their carbon tax hike during the pandemic. Manitoba’s NDP government suspended its fuel tax. Newfoundland and Labrador’s Liberals are also providing fuel tax relief, and so are the Conservative governments in Alberta and Ontario.

The United Kingdom, Sweden, Australia, South Korea, the Netherlands, Germany, Norway, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, New Zealand and Portugal also provided fuel tax relief.

To add insult to injury, the feds charge their sales tax on top of the carbon tax. That’s right. The federal government applies its sales tax after all the per-litre taxes are added.

This tax-on-tax is costing Canadians about $500 million this year, according to the PBO. By the end of 2030, the GST on the carbon tax alone will have cost Canadians $6.2 billion.

Ending the tax-on-tax is a simple way to save Canadians billions when fuelling up or heating their homes.

Trudeau knows taxes make it more expensive to stay warm during the winter. Otherwise, why would he have taken the carbon tax off home heating oil for three years?

That political ploy was an attempt to help Atlantic Canadians amid tanking poll numbers in this typical Liberal stronghold.

But 97 percent of Canadian families use other forms of energy to heat their homes. Trudeau should extend the relief he provided to Atlantic Canadians to everyone by taking the carbon tax off all forms of home heating. That would save the average family using natural gas about $1,100 over three years.

Trudeau can also give farmers relief and ease grocery prices by making sure the original Bill C-234 becomes law this year, which would remove the carbon tax from the natural gas and propane used on farms.

The House of Commons already passed this relief twice, but it still isn’t law because of shenanigans in the Senate.

The carbon tax on natural gas and propane used to heat barns and dry grain will cost farmers $1 billion by 2030, according to the PBO.

By making it more expensive for farmers to grow food, the carbon tax makes it more expensive for Canadians to buy food.

There’s one more easy way for Trudeau to provide relief: stop his upcoming 4.7 percent alcohol tax hike.

Last year, the feds capped the annual increase at two percent. Trudeau shouldn’t have hiked the tax at all, but the smaller increase reduced the tax burden by $100 million. At a time when both consumers and businesses are struggling, freezing the alcohol tax is the least Trudeau could do.

The Trudeau government doesn’t need an expensive getaway in Montreal to figure out how to make life more affordable. There’s a simple solution: stop taking so much money from Canadians.

Franco Terrazzano is the Federal Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

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