Mr. Gérard Montpetit, from La Présentation, Quebec, describes his recurring frustration with his annual tax return versus the amount of tax breaks, subsidies, and credits handed out to the oil companies by both governments. These tax breaks and subsidies are a misuse of our tax dollar.
My Grudge with Taxes
It is the month of April. The last grimy snowbanks in the shade are slowly melting while the grass attempts to come back to life on the sunny side of the lawn. But April is above all the time to collect one’s »T4 »s for the federal income tax form and one’s records for the Quebec version. This perspective is as enthralling as sitting in the chair at the dentist’s office and feeling the dreaded drill attack a decayed tooth with vibrations penetrating the whole skull. It must be done, but … we would rather not!
Our tax money is supposed to be used to pay for the education of our children, our health system, infrastructure such as roads, the armed forces, the justice system, the protection of the environment and so on. In theory, the idea is to pool our financial resources for the well being of all. Our taxes might be used to support certain key economic sectors. This could mean sustaining an industry during economic turmoil : for example, the automobile sector and the forest industry during the financial crisis of 2008. But these subsidies are tools which should be used wisely. If they are abused, it is a waste of money. The subsidies and fiscal advantages granted to the oil industry are in the latter category.
According to various sources of information (1), we know that the different levels of government in Canada support fossil fuel producers to the tune of $3.3 billion (2) This aid from our governments encourages the oil producers to explore and develop these products which have a negative effect on our efforts to reduce pollution, greenhouse gases and climate change. According to Bloomberg (3) these grants are the »dumbest policy » in the world; not only is it utterly useless from an economic point of view, it is destructive to the environment.
»The world’s public subsidies dedicated to the energy sector are expected to exceed $5300 billion in 2015. This is the conclusion of a new study by theInternational MonetaryFund, which emphasizes that this amount is higher than the total expenditures on health. »(4) Fattening the oil companies is more expensive than health costs! And the International Monetary Fund is certainly not an idealist Marxist organization of the left! These subsidies exist in an upside down world. Instead of the principle of »the polluter pays », these »gifts » pay the polluter.(5)
Having promised to eliminate financial support to the fossil fuel sector, the federal government of Mr Trudeau continues to support the oil industry to the substantial tune of $1.6 billion in 2017. To help Canadians forget his broken promises, Mr Trudeau prefers that we all smoke » pot » starting the 1stof July! As for our provincial tax return, the Couillard government is giving the oil industry the sum of $300 million.(6) So much for all those empty, meaningless speeches on the subject of reducing greenhouse gases?
According to the blog Environmental Defence, we give $234 per household on average to the oil companies (3). So, when I will send my tax return between now and April 30th, a portion of my money will help to fatten the multibillionaire oil companies rather than provide services for the population. To legally reduce my taxes, I will write in the line provided for medical care the amount of $145 that my dentist charged me to fill a tooth. All in all, the misuse of that $234 of my tax dollars that the governments appropriate to enrich the oil companies makes me grind my teeth more than the dental drilling.
Member of comité des citoyens et citoyennes pour la protection de l’environnement maskoutain.
April 8, 2018