Small firms to pay almost half of the federal carbon tax; get 7 per cent back

New survey data reveals 80% of small firms will be able pass on less than one quarter of new costs

Regina, February 12, 2019 – The majority of small businesses in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick oppose the federal carbon backstop plan, which is set to come into effect this April in the four provinces, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). The plan unfairly burdens small businesses, which will contribute almost 50 per cent of carbon tax revenues along with municipalities, universities, school boards and hospitals, but will receive just 7 per cent back in the form of rebates and grants.

“With consumers receiving 90 per cent of the ‘Climate Action Incentive’ payments and many large emitters receiving carbon tax exemptions, small businesses are left holding the bag,” said CFIB president Dan Kelly. 

“The government’s technical documents state that small businesses are expected to simply pass their added costs down to consumers, but 80 per cent of small firms in the four provinces report they will be able to pass on less than one quarter of the new costs,” Kelly added. “In fact, over half of small firms said they will have to eat the entire new cost, on top of the seven years of CPP premium increases already underway. These costs will hamstring their ability to compete, and paradoxically, invest in emissions-reducing solutions.”

In its new survey of small businesses in the four provinces where the federal backstop will apply, CFIB found that an overwhelming majority (87 per cent) oppose the government’s carbon tax plan (96% in Saskatchewan). Additionally:

  • 84 per cent of small businesses are already taking action to reduce their carbon footprint.
  • 81 per cent of Saskatchewan small business owners say that the added cost of the carbon tax will make it harder for them to further invest in reducing their emissions (71% nationally).
  • 87 per cent in Saskatchewan believe the current rebate plan, where 90 per cent of rebates will be allocated to households, is unfair (83% nationally).
  • 86 per cent in Saskatchewan would like to get back the same share in grants and rebates as they pay in carbon taxes (84% nationally).
  • 73 per cent of Saskatchewan small business owners say a federally imposed carbon tax will make their business less competitive.

91% of Saskatchewan small businesses support the province’s legal challenge:

The Government of Saskatchewan’s court challenge on whether a federal carbon tax is constitutional will be heard this week. “We commend the provincial government for standing up for Saskatchewan by aggressively opposing the federally imposed carbon tax and with 91 per cent of Saskatchewan business owners supporting the legal challenge, entrepreneurs will be closely watching the decision,” said Marilyn Braun-Pollon, CFIB’s Vice-President, Prairie & Agri-business.

“Small business owners care about the environment and have already been taking steps to reduce their emissions. However, the federal carbon tax plan punishes them with new costs instead of providing them the tools they need to further reduce their carbon footprint,” concluded Kelly. “We are strongly urging the federal government not to proceed with this unfair and unaffordable plan, and find better ways to work with provinces to reduce emissions without negatively affecting small businesses.”

To arrange an interview with Marilyn Braun-Pollon, Vice-President Prairie & Agri-business on the provincial results please call (306) 757-0000, 1-888-234-2232 or email You may follow CFIB Saskatchewan on Twitter @cfibsk.

About CFIB
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 110,000 members (5,250 in Saskatchewan) across every industry and region. CFIB is dedicated to increasing business owners’ chances of success by driving policy change at all levels of government, providing expert advice and tools, and negotiating exclusive savings. Learn more at