THE BLOG
04/23/2018 11:29 EDT | Updated 04/23/2018 11:30 EDT

Tax Season Is Our Governments' Wasteful Gift To Big Oil

Not only are these subsidies utterly useless from an economic point of view, they are destructive to the environment.

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 T4s for the federal income tax form, as well as one's records for the Quebec version. This is about as enthralling as sitting in the chair at the dentist's office and feeling the dreaded drill attack a decayed tooth. It must be done, but we would rather not have to!

Roger Milley

Our tax money is supposed to pay for the education of our children, our health system, infrastructure, 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, too. 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 our money. The subsidies and fiscal advantages granted to the oil industry are in the latter category.

Not only are these subsidies utterly useless from an economic point of view, they are destructive to the environment.

We know that the different levels of government in Canada support fossil-fuel producers to the tune of $3.3 billion. This aid from our governments encourages oil and coal producers to explore and develop these products which have a negative effect on our efforts to reduce pollution, greenhouse gases and the effects of climate change.

According to Bloomberg, these grants are the ''dumbest policy'' in the world; not only are these subsidies utterly useless from an economic point of view, they are destructive to the environment.

According to the International Monetary fund's estimates, fattening theoiland coal industry cost worldwide economies $5.3 trillion in 2015. That's far more than the health costs generated by fossil fuels. These subsidies truly exist in an upside down world. Instead of ''the polluter pays,'' we pay a "gift" to the polluter.

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Having promised to phase out financial support to the fossil-fuel sector 2015, the federal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau continues to support the oil industry to the substantial tune of an estimated $1.6 billion a year. As for our provincial tax return, the Philippe Couillard government of Quebec is giving the oil industry the sum of $300 million. So much for all those empty speeches on the subject of reducing greenhouse gases.

According to the blog Environmental Defence, we Canadians give an average of $234 per household to the oil companies every year. That means when I will send my tax return between now and April 30, a portion of my money will help to fatten the multibillion-dollar 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.

The misuse of my tax dollars to enrich oil companies makes me grind my teeth more than dental drilling.

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