Some small business owners in Airdrie say the NDP government’s carbon tax, expected to roll out next year, will negatively affect their businesses.
Starting Jan. 1, a carbon tax will be applied to fuels at a rate of $20 per tonne in Alberta. Provincial officials say it will cost the average Albertan $191 in 2017; however, Albertans with low incomes will be provided with rebates up to $200.
“It’s going to definitely put a lot of these oil companies out of work,” said Darrell Reuer, branch manager at Rebel Transport Ltd in Airdrie. “The carbon tax is going to affect everybody.”
Leah Hahn, office manager at Bob Miller Trucking Ltd., said the carbon tax is being implemented at a bad time. She said employees have already been laid off because of the downturn in the economy.
“The increase in the cost of fuel in this economy is what’s going to really hurt us because the economy has already been dictating our rates,” Hahn said.
“We’ve had to lower our rates pretty much across the board for all of our customers. We do liquid hauling so we do a lot of work in the oil and gas industry so we’ve been hit with that industry being affected already.
“And then with the economy being in the situation that it is in, the companies that are still out there functioning that we’re still working for have demanded lower rates or they’ll find somebody else.”
She has been working for Bob Miller Trucking Ltd. for eight years and said although there was a downturn in the economy in 2008, it’s much worse this time around.
“We’ve never seen anything like this or anything that lasted this long,” Hahn said. “To add the carbon tax on top of an already bad economy – yes, it is going to really hit us.”
A survey conducted by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) from July 21 to Aug. 29 indicates a majority of small business owners in Alberta are against the carbon tax.
Of the 865 small business owners who participated in the CFIB survey, 86 per cent said the carbon tax could increase operating costs and 85 per cent said it could reduce profitability. Sixty-six per cent said it could increase pressure to cut salaries and 59 per cent said it could delay business investments.
“There couldn’t be a worse time than right now to introduce this carbon tax,” said Amber Ruddy, Alberta director with CFIB. “We’re urging the government to make carbon pricing completely revenue neutral, so that means returning all of the funds back through tax reductions and through the rebates.
“It’s not a surprise that small businesses are struggling and they would expect some flexibility and sensitivity from the provincial government to stop making a bad situation worse.”
Hahn said she is also organizing a rally against the carbon tax in Airdrie Nov. 5 as part of a province-wide initiative. The rally will take place at the green space just north of the Co-op Gas Bar on the corner of Sierra Springs Drive and Yankee Valley Boulevard from 12 to 2 p.m.
There are 12 rally locations across the province with aims to raise awareness about the carbon tax and garner signatures on a petition calling for a referendum on the tax.
Hahn said Airdrie Food Bank donations will also be accepted at the rally.