Source: Facebook

A business group is highlighting the fact that the Liberal government owes small businesses over $2.5 billion in unpaid carbon tax rebates.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses is demanding that the Liberals distribute the funds owed equally to all small-and-medium-sized enterprises immediately, as it has already done with the consumer rebate. 

In addition to the delayed rebate payments, the association has several issues with the carbon tax, particularly changes that have been made to it in the aftermath of its implementation. 

For example, the CFIB said that if Bill C-234 passes as it was originally proposed, then it would include exemptions for natural gas and propane used for on-farm activities like drying grain and heating farm buildings. 

The carbon tax is scheduled to increase an additional 17 cents per litre of gasoline, 21 cents per litre of diesel and 15 cents per cubic metre of natural gas in April, however, the CFIB is calling for an immediate freeze on further increases.

Ontario’s share of that figure is $1.3 billion, which if paid out all at once, would give each Ontario small and middle-sized business a one-time payment of $2,367.

“It’s deeply unfair that five years into the program, Ottawa is still sitting on $1.3 billion it owes to small firms,” said Ryan Mallough, CFIB’s Ontario vice president. “Small businesses can’t wait. The federal government must pay this debt now and return the promised carbon tax revenues to all Ontario small businesses.”

Recently, the Trudeau government announced that it would be decreasing the amount of carbon tax rebates for small businesses from 9% to 5% in 2024. 

“Ottawa is already taking future funds out of small business owners’ pockets,” said Julie Kwiecinski, CFIB’s Ontario director of provincial affairs. “They cut the program in half before returning the promised $1.3 billion to Ontario businesses. Meanwhile, the carbon tax keeps increasing.” 

Now, the CFIB is calling on the Liberals to immediately pay out the $2.5 billion owed since 2019. 

Additionally, the CFIB would like to see the government scrap the possibility of returning to a previous policy of having only “emissions-intensive, trade exposed” businesses be eligible for rebates. 

“The federal government must immediately fix the broken carbon tax rebate system,” said Kwiecinski. “Small businesses deserve to be treated fairly.”

The CFIB also wants to see the SME rebate increase to 40% of carbon tax revenue and an exemption on all heating fuels.

A poll done by Leger for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation found that the majority of Canadians, 69%, were opposed to the hike, while the remaining 31% were in support of it.