Poll suggests Ontarians not warming to carbon-pricing scheme

charles sousaFinance Minister Charles SousaThis probably wasn’t the carbon offset Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals had in mind when they crafted the provincial budget.

A new poll suggests the government’s carbon-pricing scheme to fight climate change has offset the positive impact‚Äé of giving free college and university tuition to low-income students.

The Forum Research survey found 58 per cent of respondents said Finance Minister Charles Sousa’s spending plan Thursday was “not a good budget for Ontario” while 19 per cent felt it was and 23 per cent weren’t sure.

“Cap and trade is just seen as a gas tax,” Forum president Lorne Bozinoff said Tuesday, referring to the new system designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

In the budget, the government announced gasoline will jump by 4.3 cents a litre next year and natural gas prices will rise by about $5 a month for the average homeowner.

That’s part of a cap-and-trade regime — being done in conjunction with Quebec and California — that forces businesses and consumers to cut carbon emissions by increasing fossil fuel costs.

But 68 per cent of people disapprove of the higher prices while 22 per cent approved and 10 per cent weren’t sure.

Asked specifically about the cap-and-trade system, 59 per cent disapproved with 27 per cent approving and 14 per cent not having an opinion.

However, when informed that about $2 billion in proceeds from the carbon-pricing plan would support greenhouse gas reduction, 46 per cent approved of the idea while 42 per cent disapproved and 12 per cent didn’t know.

Using interactive voice-response phone calls, Forum surveyed 1,148 people across Ontario from Friday through Monday. The results are considered accurate to within three percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Forum houses its poll results at the data library of the University of Toronto’s department of political science.

Still, Bozinoff said Ontarians are so cool to the measure designed to curb global warming that it appears to have undermined the good news in the budget.

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