06/08/2016 04:50 EDT | Updated 06/08/2016 04:59 EDT

Alberta Carbon Tax Will Feature No Rebates, Exemptions For Charities


The Alberta NDP passed carbon tax legislation on Monday, defeating an amendment proposed by the official opposition that would have given a rebate to charities.

The move has Alberta non-profits worried about how they'll cover the additional costs, which could reach tens of thousands of dollars each year.

The Calgary Food Bank is anticipating the move will cost their organization an additional $31,000 per year by 2018, the organization's president told Metro News.

“We don’t have the ability to write-off or to otherwise pay for the taxes. If I were a business, I could pass down some of those costs to my customer, but as a charity I can’t," said James McAra, president and CEO, to Metro.

Increased costs coming at a difficult time

Food bank usage in Alberta has surged over the past year, with some organizations seeing an increase in clients as high as 60 per cent.

There could also be increased expenses for transportation, especially for charities like food banks that rely on vehicles for bulk deliveries of food to partner agencies.

An increase of eight cents per litre may seem small, until it's multiplied by dozens of trips to different agencies.

The Calgary Chamber of Voluntary Organizations also noted its disapproval, saying in a release the organization was disappointed the bill includes no rebates or exemptions for the non-profit sector.

"If I were a business, I could pass down some of those costs to my customer, but as a charity I can’t."

The official Opposition Wildrose Party voted against the bill, saying without the amendment protecting charities it would hurt Alberta's most vulnerable.

"All charities in Alberta are about to see a significant rise in their operating costs for fuel, heating, food and travel," said Wildrose MLA Angela Pitt during the debate.

"These rising costs come at a time when charities are already facing a double-edged sword. On the one hand, due to the economic climate and the fact that many Albertans are struggling, charities are seeing an increased demand for their products and services and a decrease in the actual donations that are coming in."

Alberta Environment Minister Shannon Phillips defended the decision in the house, saying that charities should work to "find efficiencies" to make up the lost costs.

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