The asking of the return of the carbon tax rebates is very heartless. This greenwashing GST plan is a pointless exercise in climate change planning that is failed. Now families with dead family member are being asked to pay back cash that they may not even have for family members who got the refund and then died. What the heck is wrong with government? So dumb and heartless.
More grieving families told to return carbon tax rebates; opposition demands answers
Published on: March 15, 2017 | Last Updated: March 15, 2017 5:30 PM MDT
A carbon tax rebate sits next to a bill for the same amount following the recipient's death. JIM WELLS / POSTMEDIA NETWORK
It was an unexpected windfall a dying Cochrane mom used to buy some final gifts for her kids just days before she lost her two-year battle with cancer.
But Alisa Slager’s death on Jan. 18 meant the $180 carbon tax rebate she received from the Alberta government was no longer hers to spend, so Slager’s grieving parents received a bill.
And despite their bitterness over the letter, they paid every cent in their 37-year-old daughter’s name.
“We paid it right away — she only had her good name to leave behind,” said Alisa’s mother, Cathie Slager, still emotional at the memory of receiving the bill.
“For us to get a bill asking for it back is just sickening.”
The money, which the grieving mom said was a pittance, was used to purchase a first bike for her nearly three-year-old son, Vincent, a special doll for her four-year-old daughter, Danni, and helped pay for a new computer for her 16-year-old son, Seth.
The Slagers’ story is one of a dozen instances Postmedia has learned of in which the Canada Revenue Agency demanded the full amount of January’s carbon tax rebate be returned by families of recipients who have died.
In January, some 1.13 million cheques, worth about $138 million, were issued by the province to low- and middle-income Albertans to help defray the effect of the carbon tax. It’s unclear where any of the returned money will go.
Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci has pledged to discuss the matter with CRA, which administers the program’s rebates, to end the practice, but stopped short of saying those who’ve received bills after a family member has died will either have their payments returned or the bills cancelled.
Wildrose party Leader Brian Jean took aim at Premier Rachel Notley in the Alberta legislature Wednesday, questioning how it was possible the government never considered this when they launched the rebate program.
“It’s disgusting, it’s shameful and somebody needs to be held to account,” Jean said.
“Will somebody be fired for this insensitivity and lack of judgment?”
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley blames the federal tax collection agency for the notices. JASON FRANSON /THE CANADIAN PRESS
Notley blamed the federal tax collection agency for the notices that have raised the ire of families in mourning, echoing Ceci’s vow to ask the CRA to end the practice.
“We don’t think it was right or fair. We are in discussions with (the CRA) to make sure it doesn’t happen anymore,” said Notley, not saying whether there will be any exemptions for those who’ve already received bills.
“This is something that happened with the CRA. The NDP is standing up for Albertans and going to the CRA to ask them to stop it.”
Terry Gaulin’s daughter, Tina, who died in January, was called a miracle girl after she survived a horrific plunge from a tree as an 11-year-old that she wasn’t expected to survive. The incident paved a difficult life for Gaulin’s daughter, who died of an accidental overdose in her apartment.
Still reeling from her loss, Gaulin received a letter addressed to his 28-year-old daughter earlier this month, asking that her estate return the $100 cheque she received in January.
“She had nothing. No assets, no estate, no will. I tried to be the good dad and call them back,” said Gaulin, who noted the simple call turned into a 2.5-hour ordeal that resulted in him ultimately having to fill out a form to get permission to speak on Tina’s behalf.
“I should be sending them a bill. If it wasn’t so sad, it would be funny.”
Gaulin said he has no intention of paying the bill, and isn’t sure if the tax agency will come after him as her legal guardian and trustee.
But he knows what his answer will be.
“If they want to come after me, all I’ll tell them is there is no estate,” he said.
Paige MacPherson with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation said the latest black eye for the controversial carbon tax and the rollout of early rebates shows the program was poorly thought out.
“The whole thing is a mess. The government was trying to score political points from people using their own money … and it seems to have backfired,” she said.
“The main problem is these rebates aren’t based at all on (carbon) usage, they’re based on income, which brings into question just how effective it is.”