As the winter season continues to hit northwestern Ontario, Kenora MP Eric Melillo is keeping a close eye on his constituents’ energy bills and fuel costs.
Analysts say home energy costs are set to spike anywhere from 30 to 100 per cent this winter, as the cost and demand of natural gas continue to rise and the Ontario Energy Board approved a 20 per cent increase in fees for companies such as Enbridge earlier this year.
“Those of us in the north will feel it the most,” said Melillo, in an interview with the Q Morning Show.
“People shouldn’t be punished for heating their homes in the winter, especially in countries like Canada. That’s been a relentless focus for our party. We’re pushing for the government to remove taxes on home energy, and recognize that it is not a luxury but it is essential for us across the north,” he adds.
According to Statistics Canada, the majority of Canadians, 61 per cent, use gas-powered heating systems like a furnace, while 29 per cent use electrical systems and 10 per cent use things such as heat pumps or stoves, the latter of which is dangerous.
And as Melillo points out, the Liberal government plans to triple the amount of Carbon Tax that Canadians pay on a number of essential items like gas and groceries in the new year – which will only make things worse for lower-income families.
The federal carbon tax, currently at $50 a tonne, is set to rise by $15 per year until it reaches $170 by 2030 in Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and Saskatchewan – while other provinces use their own carbon tax plans.
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre has repeatedly criticized Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government’s plan to ‘triple, triple, triple’ the carbon tax until 2030, saying it will add up to 37.5 cents per litre onto the cost of fuel across the country by the new year.
“That certainly won’t help, but unfortunately, this government has never really missed an opportunity to hike taxes on Canadians,” Melillo adds. “That’s going to make everything more expensive. We have a different approach.”
The Liberal government says their carbon pricing plan actually helps lower-income families, who come out ahead after quarterly rebates, compared to the extra costs they’ve paid. They say by increasing carbon taxes, investment into carbon-intensive industries is discouraged – bettering the environment.
But the PCs have repeatedly pointed to the Canadian Taxpayers Associations’ report that shows Ontario families are actually out $360 dollars, as the average family spends $1,039 in carbon taxes but only receives $679 in rebates. They estimate costs to be $299 in Manitoba, $390 in Saskatchewan and up to $671 in Alberta.
A motion to delay those increases was shot down by members of the Liberals and NDP in October.