Since 2010, Canada’s largest tar sands producer received over $354 million of public money. It was also responsible for hundreds of spills and environmental violations, but paid less than $6 million in fines.
This is an obscene use of public dollars. Tell the federal government to stop giving government money to fossil fuel companies.
Last week, an investigative story in the Toronto Star revealed that polluting companies across Canada violated rules that protect our land, air and water while receiving millions in public money. The companies occasionally paid fines, but the fines were a tiny fraction of the subsidies they received. The 32 companies the Star analyzed going back to 2010 collected more than $2.6 billion in taxpayer dollars but were fined just $15 million for thousands of environmental violations.
Essentially, your tax dollars are paying these companies’ meagre fines for pollution, with plenty left to spare.
One of the biggest culprits in the Star investigation was Suncor, Canada’s largest tar sands producer and operator of oil and gas infrastructure from British Columbia to Newfoundland. Since 2010, Suncor received over $354 million from the federal and provincial governments. But the company paid less than $6 million in fines for hundreds of spills and environmental violations. This includes the release of potentially deadly hydrogen sulfide at nearly 10 times the legal limit.
Suncor itself says that its environmental violations are “unacceptable”, but they continue to happen regardless, and are perfectly content to continue collecting hundreds of millions in public money. The company’s take of rebates, interest-free loans, grants and subsidies is part of the $3.3 billion in subsidies handed out by governments to fossil fuel companies every year in Canada.
And this is on top of the company’s creative use of offshore tax havens to avoid paying its fair share of taxes. Over a ten-year period, Suncor paid just 15.86 per cent in taxes on its $35 billion in profits—a rate lower than that paid by an Ontario resident earning about $42,000 per year.
Fossil fuel subsidies have been called “the world’s dumbest policy.” The government handouts to fossil fuel companies that are polluting our land, air and water, and undermining Canada’s efforts to tackle climate change need to stop.