Backgrounder: Climate Action and Indigenous Peoples

Helping Indigenous Communities Access Climate Action Incentive Payments

In the provinces that have not taken action to meet the federal benchmark for pricing carbon pollution (Ontario, New Brunswick, Manitoba and Saskatchewan), the Government of Canada proposes to provide Climate Action Incentive payments directly to individuals. 

Individuals in these provinces will claim the Climate Action Incentive payment by filing a T1 Income Tax and Benefit Return. Individuals who do not file their income tax return will not be able to access this payment and other benefits.

The Government recognizes that some individuals, including those in remote and northern Indigenous communities, may face distinct barriers to filing their tax return and accessing benefits. Two important initiatives are underway to ensure that Canadians receive the benefits to which they are entitled, including Climate Action Incentive payments.

The first initiative is the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP), a collaboration between participating community organizations and the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). These organizations host free tax preparation clinics and arrange for volunteers to prepare tax and benefit returns for low- and modest-income individuals in simple tax situations, including Indigenous persons. In Quebec, this program is known as the Income Tax Assistance – Volunteer Program, and volunteers prepare both the federal and provincial return.

The Government has more than doubled the size of the CVITP and the Income Tax Assistance – Volunteer Program. With total annual ongoing investments of $13 million in Budget 2016 and Budget 2018, the Government has quadrupled funding to support this program in recent years. Planned activities include significantly enhancing the outreach of this program, with an emphasis on outreach to Indigenous communities.

The second initiative by Service Canada is expanding provision of in-person support for tax filing and benefit applications to all on-reserve, remote and northern Indigenous communities, and piloting outreach activities for urban Indigenous communities. Planned activities will include information workshops, facilitation of social insurance number applications and birth registrations, direct support for completing federal benefit applications, and advice and support on tax filing. In Budget 2018, the Government provided funding of $17.3 million over three years, starting in 2018-19, to support these activities.

Supplement for Residents of Rural and Small Communities

The Government proposes to provide a supplementary Climate Action Incentive amount for residents of rural and small communities in recognition of their increased energy needs and reduced access to clean transportation options. This supplement would be equal to 10 per cent of the payment amount to which they would otherwise be entitled. Rural and small communities would be defined as anywhere outside of a census metropolitan area, as defined by Statistics Canada.

Other Targeted Relief from the Fuel Charge

To address high costs of living and energy, full relief from carbon pollution pricing will be granted to diesel-fired electricity generation in remote communities. In addition, the Government is proposing fuel charge relief for aviation fuels in the territories. More information on targeted relief from the fuel charge is available in the backgrounder titled Targeted Relief for Farmers and Fishers, and Residents of Rural and Remote Communities.

Support for Particularly Affected Sectors including Indigenous Communities

The Government is developing options to provide direct support to particularly affected sectors of the economy in backstop jurisdictions — including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), municipalities, non-profit organizations, and Indigenous communities — in recognition of the additional costs these sectors incur as a result of carbon pollution pricing. Further details on the program design to support particularly affected sectors will be outlined in early 2019.