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Liberals rebrand Canada's carbon tax rebate

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The federal government is rebranding the carbon tax rebate.

Previously known as the Climate Action Incentive Payment, the Liberals are now calling it the "Canada Carbon Rebate."

The news of the new name for the existing rebate program was first broken via a Finance Canada press release touting the amount Canadians will be reimbursed this year. It was subsequently announced by a series of ministers in Ottawa on Wednesday.

The change does not come with any adjustments to how the federal fuel charge system and corresponding refund actually works. 

"The name was updated to the Canada Carbon Rebate to clarify its function, and make its meaning and relationship to the carbon pricing system more intuitive for Canadians," reads a government press release.

Conceding that the previous name was difficult to understand or connect to the carbon tax plan, ministers said Wednesday they felt there was room for improvement when it came to how they communicated about the "complex" issue of carbon pricing and the Liberals' "revenue neutral" approach.

"If we can speak the language that people speak because people say the words 'carbon,' they say the words, 'rebate,' right? And if we can speak that language that's important, so people understand what's going on here," said Labour Minister Seamus O'Regan. 

The pollution pricing program and corresponding rebate system has been in effect since 2019. It applies a levy on greenhouse gas emissions, making it more expensive to burn fossil fuels, in an effort to encourage Canadians to change their habits.

The rebates are given to Canadians through direct deposit or cheque every three months, in provinces where the federal backstop system applies.

Starting in April, a family of four will receive "Canada Carbon Rebates" of:

  • $1,800 in Alberta ($450 quarterly);
  • $1,200 in Manitoba ($300 quarterly);
  • $1,120 in Ontario ($280 quarterly);
  • $1,504 in Saskatchewan ($376 quarterly);
  • $760 in New Brunswick ($190 quarterly);
  • $824 in Nova Scotia ($206 quarterly);
  • $880 in Prince Edward Island ($220 quarterly); and,
  • $1,192 in Newfoundland and Labrador ($298 quarterly).

Talks of a rebrand have been circling on the Hill since MPs got back to the capital last month, aafter Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faced months of political heat last fall for advancing select carbon tax carve-outs.

This year's rebate amounts reflect the reduced revenue coming as a result of the temporary pause of the fuel charge on deliveries of home heating oil that came into effect in November.

During Wednesday's press conference, the Liberals equated Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre's ardent opposition to the carbon tax to axing these payments to families.

Instead of charging back during question period, Poilievre focused his questions on the government's mismanagement of the ArriveCan application and what he called Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault's "war on cars," referring to the minister’s recent declaration that the federal government will stop investing in new road infrastructure.

Last month Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland pointed to the at-times nondescript direct deposits that land in Canadians' bank accounts, and said that "Canadians have the right to know what they're getting."

Now, while vowing their climate plan is working, Guilbeault said Wednesday that the Liberals are working with financial institutions to "make sure that it's labelled properly so that people actually know what it is."

Reacting to the rebrand, senior energy strategist at Greenpeace Canada Keith Stewart said he was glad to see the government give the program a name that better describes what it is.

"I didn't know what the Climate Action Incentive Payment was and I work on climate policy for a living," he said in an emailed comment to CTV News. "I'll bet that once people see that line on their bank statement, they'll think twice about the nonsense being spread by many Conservative politicians."

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation chalked the move up to "lipstick on a pig," noting the carbon price is rising to 17 cents per litre as of April 1.

"Trudeau's real problem isn't that Canadians don't know what his government is doing, Trudeau's real problem is that Canadians know his carbon tax is making life more expensive," said CTF federal director Franco Terrazzano in a statement. 

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