CFIB claiming Alberta government refusing to disclose carbon tax admin costs

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, left, riding in the Calgary Stampede parade with Finance Minister Joe Ceci. Photo: Rachel Notley/Facebook CFIB

CFIB files complaint with Information and Privacy Commissioner about lack of disclosure

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business(CFIB) is accusing the Alberta Government of refusing to divulge the cost of carbon tax administration.

The business organization says it was looking for the annual cost for administering the province-wide carbon tax, through a Freedom of Information(FOI) request. The FOI and Protection of Privacy Act  provides access to information held by public bodies which is not available by other means.

The CFIB claim the internal government documents obtained were so heavily redacted it’s not possible to discern the estimated annual cost to government to manage the new tax which came into effect on Jan. 1, 2017.


“This government has rolled out the carbon tax full steam ahead, but time and again avoids being transparent about the costs, including the impact on small business. Now we have clear evidence they know the cost to taxpayers to administer the new tax, but they are refusing to come clean as to what it is,” said Amber Ruddy, Alberta Director for CFIB.

The Alberta Government says the heavy redaction was related to the types of documents requested. The FOI process is not overseen by the government and if cabinet or treasury board documents are requested, legislation dictates that they not be disclosed. The FOI coordinator doesn’t have discretion to release those types of documents, according to the Finance Dept.

Ceci was asked for the administration cost by Derek Fildebrandt, Wildrose MLA at the time, during an April meeting of the Resource Stewardship committee. Ceci says nothing has changed since then.

“As I stated publicly(page 10) this past April, the cost of administering the collection of the carbon levy is approximately $2.5 million. This cost represents less than half a percent of the expected revenue from this program,” he said in an emailed statement.

“We pride ourselves on being an open and transparent government. To say that this information was not made public is just not true.”

Ceci says that revenues from the carbon tax are recycled back into the Alberta economy via rebates, reduction of small business tax by one-third, and opportunities to diversify the economy.

Ruddy says the Finance Dept. is interpreting the legislation too narrowly and a complaint has been filed.

“The way the information was disclosed is woefully inadequate in terms of being accountable for a multi-billion dollar new tax,” she said in response to emailed questions.

“I’d like to see the full breakdown so we can analyze the government administration costs which has yet to be shared publicly.”

The Alberta Government should accept in full any recommendations that come from Alberta’s information and privacy commissioner, Ruddy argues.

“The carbon tax is siphoning billions in new revenue out of the productive economy into government coffers.  Albertans have the right to also know what the bureaucratic cost of this new tax is,” she said.

The FOI request asked for “all documents that would show the estimated and projected annual costs to the Alberta Government to administer the carbon tax.” The CFIB’s Freedom of Information request can be found here.

Ed. note: This story has been edited to reflect new information received from Finance Minister Ceci.