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Comment: The carbon tax and the federal dental plan are both unfair

They do not benefit all Canadians equally.
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A gas pump is shown at a filling station in Montreal, Wednesday, April 12, 2017. The federal government says the average carbon price rebates sent to Canadians in 2021 far outstripped the average amount they paid in carbon pricing to begin with. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

A commentary by a Victoria resident.

Here is why government policies like the carbon tax and dental plan in their current form will never gain widespread public support – because they do not benefit all Canadians equally.

To wit:

Carbon tax: In B.C. we pay 17.61 cents per litre of gasoline and $3.9859 per gigajoule of natural gas. Last month, I paid $13.16 as the cost of natural gas and $19.11 carbon tax – 50 per cent more in tax than the value of gas.

Where’s the balance or equity in that? I pay a $9.50 carbon tax, about 11 per cent, on the price of a tank of gas.

We are seniors on a fixed income and yet we receive no rebate on the carbon tax, due to the ridiculously low “means test” limits on our income. The carbon tax increases annually, yet our incomes never keep pace.

Carbon taxes are largely ineffective, because they tax commodities that are “inelastic,” meaning they are necessities whose consumption remains relatively constant.

People need to commute to work where timely, affordable public transportation is not available. We need cars for grocery shopping, attending children’s events, medical appointments and more.

Natural gas is needed to heat homes, water tanks and cooking ranges. This will not change as carbon taxes escalate and Canadians’ incomes remain relatively constant.

Federal dental plan: The new federal plan covers only a small portion of Canada’s population, while excluding millions who require coverage. I have very limited, expensive dental coverage under my pension plan, as the only option when I retired.

Because I have some dental coverage, however inadequate, I’m not eligible for the federal plan. If I cancel my limited plan, I still do not qualify for federal coverage. Unfair and unequal.

And yet I pay for this federal dental plan through my income taxes, which I continue to pay after more than 50 years in the workforce.

But these programs are not for me, due to the inane qualifications set by federal and provincial governments.

Canadians overwhelmingly support our Medicare system because all Canadians benefit equally. This means-tested nonsense for supposedly “universal” public programs will undermine public support and make it easier for successive governments to eliminate these programs, leaving seniors like myself and my wife to pay more and receive less going forward.

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