Chiefs of Ontario File a Judicial Review Calling on the Federal Government to Alleviate Burden of Carbon Pricing on First Nations
(November 30, 2023 )– Chiefs of Ontario (COO) is releasing the following statement regarding a judicial review it has filed today on the Greenhouse Gas and Pollution Pricing Act.
Chiefs of Ontario and Attawapiskat First Nation have filed a judicial review today after Canada refused to negotiate with First Nations in Ontario to alleviate the discriminatory and anti-reconciliatory application of the Greenhouse Gas and Pollution Act (GGPPA) on First Nations. The GGPPA established Canada’s carbon pricing regime, which although designed to be revenue-neutral, has a disproportionate impact on First Nations and their members.
“First Nations see the reality of climate change every single day and expect Canada to address it. However, we do not accept a regime that creates new burdens on First Nations which already face deep infrastructure and economic challenges. Canada should be working with us to confront the climate crisis and close gaps on reserve instead of creating policy in an ivory tower that exacerbates the affordability issues our citizens face,” said Grand Chief Abram Benedict, Environment Portfolio lead at Chiefs of Ontario and Grand Chief of Akwesasne.
The GGPPA is intended to effect change using price signals – moving consumers away from greenhouse gas-emitting fuels. First Nations face significant infrastructure and economic gaps making it difficult to transition to less carbon-intensive alternatives. First Nations, who already have higher poverty rates than the rest of Canada’s population, are therefore forced to absorb these extra costs.
“The Charge is not supposed to generate revenue for Canada, but when it’s applied to us it does,” said Grand Chief Benedict. “We don’t get the rebates and returns that other communities get and it’s unfair.”
Chiefs of Ontario was mandated by all First Nations in Ontario to negotiate an end to carbon pricing on First Nations in a resolution that First Nations across Ontario passed with full consensus. However, Canada has refused to enter into good-faith conversations to resolve the harms caused by the carbon charge.
The carbon charge has applied to Ontario since 2019. Producers, distributors, and importers pay the charge to the federal government but then pass on the charge by way of higher prices to consumers. The GGPPA is designed to be revenue-neutral, with the money going back to the province of origin. Individuals and households receive 90% of collected charges back through the Climate Action Incentive Payment (CAIP) tax rebate (which is not readily accessible to First Nations) and 10% is returned through federal programs. Through these rebates, most households get more back than they pay.
However, that is not the case for First Nations. The Federal Government has pledged to return 0.7% of the total Charge proceeds from Ontario to First Nations communities in Ontario. This amount is insufficient given the increased costs of the charge on First Nations and their members.
“This judicial review was completely avoidable if Canada only showed up to the table,” said Grand Chief Benedict. “I sincerely hope that Canada gets the message that reconciliation and collaboration are non-negotiable, and policy made about us without us is never acceptable. Show up and work with us so we can come up with solutions that make sense.”
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