The Alberta government’s reintroduction of the provincial fuel tax has prompted an uncommon alliance to emerge.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) and the New Democratic Party (NDP) are both criticizing the Alberta government’s decision to reinstate the provincial fuel tax. 

Kris Sims, Alberta director of the CTF, in an address to Albertans, highlighted the impact of this decision.

“Breaking news for taxpayers in Alberta. Your fuel tax is going to jump up on January 1. Yes. Finance Minister Nate Horner just announced that he’s going to be increasing your fuel tax by $0.09 per litre for gasoline and diesel,” she said. 

Sims explained that Premier Smith suspended the fuel tax a year ago because she evaluated everything as being very expensive and inflation as a major problem, along with Ottawa increasing the carbon taxes.

She said that Albertans saved around $10 every time they filled up their minivans, $15 every time they filled up a big truck, and truck drivers driving big rigs saved around $130 to $140 every time they filled up. 

“This is the wrong thing to do. Nothing’s changed as far as affordability goes. In fact, it’s often worse for a lot of people. They’re still struggling to avoid the basics. And to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, he’s just got a few more weeks left before he jacks up his carbon tax on us again,” said Sims. 

The province increasing the fuel tax is a bad idea, said Sims. She noted that this decision comes even though the province has amassed a $5.5 billion surplus, achieved without collecting the fuel tax for an entire year.

Sims pleaded for Albertans to pick up the phone or send an email. 

“Let Finance Minister Nate Horner know that you can’t afford his fuel tax hike. Send a note to Premier Daniel Smith. Tell her she did the right thing when she fully suspended that fuel tax a year ago. And tell her to listen to the hardworking, everyday taxpayers of Alberta and fully suspend her fuel tax again and to stop listening to the bad advice coming from the bureaucrats in downtown Edmonton,” said Sims.

Her position was also explained in a press release she wrote and issued with the CTF.

Minister of Finance Nate Horner defended the policy in a statement released on Tuesday.

“Alberta’s fuel tax is a predictable source of provincial revenue, helping to offset the volatility of other revenue sources. As a stable component of Alberta’s revenue mix, the fuel tax helps fund programs and services Albertans rely on while maintaining our significant tax advantage,” he wrote in the letter.

Horner said that another update will be provided before the next quarter ends on March 31, 2024. 

Kathleen Ganley, MLA for Calgary-Mountain View and the NDP energy critic for oil and gas, natural gas, critical minerals, and hydrogen, shared her and her party’s displeasure with the announcement at a press conference on December 14. 

“In a province grappling with escalating rents, a housing affordability crisis, high grocery bills, and rising power prices, the UCP is focused not on how to help Alberta families, but on how to help themselves,” she said. 

Ganley referenced a recent survey that showed nearly half of Albertans are planning to cut their holiday spending, with 49% of those respondents using the money on groceries instead. In contrast, half say they don’t have any additional money to spend.  

Franco Terrazzano, federal director of the CTF, took a similar position to Kris Sims. 

“Premier Danielle Smith needs to do the right thing and keep Alberta’s fuel tax suspended,” he said in a post to X.

“She’s right to take Trudeau to task on the carbon tax. But she’s about to get outflanked by the New Democrats.”