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Maritimers brace for impact of latest carbon tax increases

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With prices climbing at the pump again, this April 1 carbon tax increase was one that people noticed as soon as it happened.

“It seems like every time I go it’s up another three, four, six, seven cents and you just can’t drive as much as you would like to sometimes,” said Bill Kingston. “[The] timing is just absolutely terrible with everything going up.”

Breaking down the numbers, gasoline per tonne jumped from $65 to $80, which means filling a 50-litre gas tank will now cost about $1.65 more.

William Godwin says he noticed the jump at the pump as soon as he woke up this morning.

“I think it was 168 and now it’s almost 180 some places,” he said. “Not everyone has the ability to drive a fuel-efficient car or even buy electric cars so you’ve got to make due with what you have and unfortunately gas costs me almost $90 and I have a little four cylinder, so that should tell you something.”

If he’s lucky, he says one tank of gas will last him about a week and while he expects to be impacted most at the gas station, that isn’t the only area where he needs to make adjustments and even sacrifices to get by.

“[You’re] walking around now with a calculator in your hand because you’ve got to make sure the price stays under the budget you can afford,” he said.

Moncton financial planner John Maisey expects this carbon tax increase to effect people’s discretionary income more than anything and says it’s also going to have a ripple effect.

“You can say all your want you’re getting a rebate cheque and it’s only going up four-to-five cents/litre on your fuel, but the reality is everything you have in your house, whether it’s your food, your clothing, your toilet paper, has gotten there from a vehicle,” he said. “If you think, the standard long-haul trucker has 1,000 litre tank, at five cents is $50 a tank extra on fuel and he fills it up every couple of days, or she fills it up every couple of days, you’re looking at $8,000-10,000 a year extra just for fuel for one trucker.”

Another area of concern for Maisey over the next few months is mortgage renewals.

“It’s not just carbon tax, there’s $200 billion in mortgages renewing in Canada this year and the average increase is going to be about 2 per cent. In Moncton for example the average mortgage is $250,000, that’s an extra $400 a month in servicing costs, let alone carbon going up,” he said.

Other areas where people might feel the pinch is filling a 20lb propane tank will now cost 42 cents more, an average annual natural gas bill will climb by $65 and experts are pointing out indirect impacts, too – Statistics Canada estimates food has increased by 0.3 per cent and clothing is up two per cent since carbon tax was first introduced.

The effect of the latest hike is yet to be determined.

“The big thing that everybody’s got to get a handle on right now is where their money is going,” said Maisey. “[…] Far too often it’s not the big ticket items that hurt your budget, it’s all the little stuff. Everybody knows their rent or their mortgage payment, but it’s that third or fourth cup of coffee during the day that’s going to take the brunt on this at some point.”

With just a few items in her cart, Amy Waye spent $50 on groceries Monday morning she suspects will only last her a few days.

“I think it’s insane,” she said. “Right now I make minimum wage and I barely make enough to survive. With everything going up, yes, we got an increase in minimum wage, but it doesn’t help us at all.”

Currently, she doesn’t know what will happen as prices continue to increase.

“Honestly, I have no idea because my rent is going up to $2,400 and it’s just insane,” she said. “I don’t know, honestly, it’s kind of depressing.”

This tax is associated with a federal rebate, but how much people get back depends on the number of people in their households and also what province they live in.

New Brunswick:

Single: $95 Couple: $142.50 Family of four: $190

Nova Scotia:

Single: $103 Couple: $154.50 Family of four: $206

Prince Edward Island:

Single: $110 Couple: $165 Family of four: $220

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