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Canadians are confused about federal carbon tax

A new poll conducted by Angus Reid suggests the federal Liberals are losing the battle when it comes to public support of the carbon tax.

It said support for the carbon tax is down 11 points since 2021, as Conservative Party Leader Pierre Poilievre's "Axe the Tax" campaign builds steam.

"It's clear now that household finance concerns are paramount in the minds of Canadians," said Research Director Dave Korzinski. "While they would like to continue to fight climate change, most see the carbon tax as an inefficient and unfairly expensive mechanism to do so."

Korzinski said what's not clear is whether Canadians understand how the tax and rebates are applied.

"This is an important aspect of the communications battle that the Trudeau government is currently losing," he continued. "Many Canadians [are] convinced that they're not receiving their Canada Climate Action Incentive rebate at all, or that when they do, the benefit gained back is not worth the cost they've paid in."

Asked if they are satisfied with the amount they receive in the rebate, only 17 per cent of respondents stated they were. Over a third believe they pay more in carbon taxes than they get back, and a quarter don't think they have received the rebate at all. Twenty-four per cent weren't sure.

The federal government claims nearly all households that filed taxes receive a rebate, and 80 per cent get back more than they pay.

"The most troubling perceptions -- are among lower income earners. Analysis from the non-partisan Parliamentary Budget Office suggests these groups are nearly guaranteed to receive back more than they pay," said Korzinski. "They're little more likely to be certain they're benefitting from the program than those with much higher incomes."

Those who believe they break even or benefit are much more likely to support the tax.

"Four in five do," stated Korzinski. "Even those who are unsure about it but simply don't feel they are losing our are 50/50."

Overall, 39 per cent of respondents supported the carbon tax, compared with 61 per cent who opposed it.

Canadians are also unsure how much carbon tax impacts their daily expenses. On gasoline, it adds between 14 and 17 cents a litre, yet only three in ten could accurately identify the amount.

According to Angus Reid, 15 per cent believe it adds 10 cents a litre or less, 17 per cent said as much as 30 cents, while 18 per cent said more. The more people thought they were paying, the less they supported it.

The same could be said about the tax's impact on home heating.

The impact varies across the country. For example, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, it is around nine per cent and eight per cent in Manitoba. However, 30 per cent of participants overestimated the impact, and the same percentage weren't sure.

"Ultimately, one has to ask what the end game is here," questioned Korzinski. "Canadians feel that climate change is an immediate priority, but they're worried about the cost of living. The carbon tax, which received majority support in both 2018 and 2021, is now facing majority opposition. It's up to the federal government to get around this roadblock and more clearly communicate the costs and benefits."

He believes failure to convince Canadians will spell the end of a signature Liberal policy.

Angus Reid polled Canadians in every province except British Columbia and Quebec. Those two provinces have their own carbon pricing plans and are not subject to the federal tax.

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