The federal carbon tax is increasing on April 1 despite the economic pain the coronavirus pandemic is having on Canadian workers and businesses.
That scheduled rise from $20 per tonne to $30 per tonne is in keeping with the plan to raise it by $10 per tonne each year until 2022. For consumers, that translates to roughly an extra 2.5 cents per litre of gasoline at the pumps.
The prime minister repeatedly refused to give a yes or no answer to whether the increase would go ahead during days of recent questioning by journalists.
READ MORE: Trudeau refuses to say if planned carbon tax increase still a go amid coronavirus
“We know that it is important that we put more money in the pockets of Canadians at this point when they’re stressed,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Monday.
“Our plan on pricing pollution puts more money upfront into people’s pockets than they would pay with the new price on pollution. We’re going to continue to focus on putting more money in people’s pockets to support them right across the country.”
Unemployment claims have spiked in recent weeks as a result of the broad business and social shutdowns ordered by public officials to attempt to contain the spread of the virus.
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It has so far infected more than 800,000 people worldwide and killed 38,743.
In Canada, there were 7,424 confirmed cases and 89 deaths as of Tuesday morning.
The Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association had urged the government to delay the planned increase.
“Now is not the time to be to be adding to our household expenses,” said Gunter Jochum, president of the farm advocacy group.
“Our focus should be on the health and economic well-being of all Canadians.”
READ MORE: How long can Canadians expect to be social distancing?
More than 500,000 Canadians have so far applied for Employment Insurance under the loosened eligibility criteria rolled out as part of the government’s $107-billion coronavirus support package.
Health experts say there’s no way to know for sure how long the coronavirus isolation measures will last.
But many have estimated the timeline will be measured in months, not weeks.