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Carbon Tax is Not Enough – the Rich Can (and Will) Keep Polluting

By: Lindsay Mewhiney

To fight climate change, the Canadian Liberal Government has imposed a carbon tax – a tax of $20 per tonne of carbon emitted, that is set to rise to $50 per tonne by 2022. But this measure is not an effective solution. The major polluters in Canada are big corporations – aka, the rich.

Why the carbon tax isn’t effective

If corporations have the financial resources to pay the carbon tax in order to continue polluting, they will. The carbon tax is intended to serve as a deterrent for producing carbon emissions, but the current carbon tax rate simply isn’t high enough to deter large corporations. United Nations economists have suggested that a carbon tax must be set to a rate of at least $135 per tonne to be a meaningful deterrent to corporation pollution.

Another major issue with the carbon tax program is that industries facing intense trade competition, such as steel and chemical industries, are exempt from the carbon tax program. These industries have been placed under an alternate plan known as the Output-Based Pricing System (OBPS). OBPS limits these big polluters to producing only 80-95% of their industry’s standard emissions level, but the only real consequence for exceeding this 80-95% threshold is a fine – a fine many polluters are content to pay rather than investing in the research and development to create more efficient technologies.

What is the better solution?

An alternative that Canada could employ to achieve more successful results in fighting climate change is the cap-and-trade method. Cap-and-trade establishes an overall maximum industry emissions level, and corporations are allocated a specific number of emissions permits. Corporations can sell their unused permits to other corporations looking to purchase them. This ability to sell unused permits is a vital aspect that makes cap-and-trade a superior solution, as it encourages the innovation of more efficient technologies by financial rewarding corporations for reducing their emissions levels to the point of having excess permits.

The technological innovation that cap-and-trade encourages will have continue to have an effect on reducing climate change once these innovative measures are implemented – even if the general public loses interest in the issue of climate change, these technological advances will still be in place and will continue to have a lesser impact on climate change than their predecessors.

Does cap-and-trade really work?

In theory, cap-and-trade sounds great. But in practice, will it really have any more of an impact than carbon tax? The answer is yes.

Australia enacted cap-and-trade in 2012 and saw an almost immediate decrease in carbon emissions across the country. However, after facing significant backlash from industry groups, cap-and-trade was repealed and replaced with a carbon tax program in 2013. This carbon tax program has been in place ever since, and as a result, Australia is now projected to miss its goals for cutting carbon emissions.

Within just one year of implementing cap-and-trade, Australia saw a considerable decrease in the country’s overall carbon emissions, and the evidence clearly shows that once cap-and-trade was revoked and a carbon tax program was reinstated, emissions skyrocketed to a level that is now expected to exceed the country’s emissions goal .

Cap-and-trade places a clearly defined limit on overall carbon emissions, whereas under carbon tax programs, there is virtually no limit on the level of emissions that polluters can produce so long as they are willing to pay the price. Carbon tax has not proven to be an effective measure to combat some of the most significant polluters, who also happen to be some of the richest polluters.

Cap-and-trade does not favour the wealthy in the way that carbon tax does. The regulations of cap-and-trade programs make it very clear that wealth will not serve as an exemption from complying with climate change measures, just as wealth will not provide exemption from the detrimental effects that climate change will have on the earth

It’s time for Universal Pharmacare in Canada

By: Sarah Jefferies

We’re depriving Canadians of their Basic Human Right

Canada is the only developed country with Universal Healthcare without Universal Pharmacare. We don’t pay out of pocket for our hospital and doctor visits, so why should we be paying for prescription medications to manage our chronic illnesses, pain management, and improve our overall quality of life?

It’s time Canada should be providing universal access to prescription medication like we do universal health care. Canadians spent roughly $34 billion on prescription drugs in 2018. Competing pharmaceutical companies in Canada are forcing consumers to pay 20-40% more on medication than any other developed country with universal healthcare.

Universal Pharmacare Coverage

The only way for Canada to truly provide its citizens with the access they deserve is to adopt a public coverage plan. Paving the way to a universal drug plan begins with public coverage of essential medicines. This coverage is based on the World Health Organizations CLEAN Meds list. These are 125 most common medications that are deemed to be essential.

The end goal of Universal Pharmacare is comprehensive coverage in Canada. This is the coverage of a comprehensive formulary of hundreds of medications. Citizens will only pay the copayment, around $2-5. This program has been successful in other countries such as New Zealand, Australia, and United Kingdom.

Benefits to Canadians

There are many benefits to adapting universal coverage. It improves the value for our money.Public drug plans are more cost effective because of a single payer system, supplying generic drugs. This provides a huge incentive to drive down drug prices.

Universal coverage can also provide a better relationship with healthcare professionals and their clients by removing the cost barrier for citizens and prescribing universally covered drugs. According to the 2016 Canadian Community Health Survey, 8% Canadians reported to have skipped or stretched out their medication as a result of cost. Canadian seniors and people on social assistance are impacted the most and has been reported that their health had worsened as a result of skipping medication due to cost.

What could this mean for Canadians?

This is a huge breakthrough for the Canadian government, providing equal access to medication without discrimination. Once implemented, this program can save Canada up to $10 billion yearly and alleviate the cost barrier for many medications. All citizens deserve to have equal treatment and access to the medications they need to have the quality of life that every Canadian deserves.

How do we get there?

The federal government can set provinces and territories up for success by providing the appropriate subsidies to have a successful transition plan.

An 8-year plan can provide realistic guidelines to negotiate new legislation for National Pharmacare by 2027. The Federal government would work with each province/territory to negotiate a funding plan suitable for their needs. Transition support would include subsidies to support IT changes and ensure that national pharmacare standards are uniform across all provinces and territories.

Lastly, the government would provide funding to help adapt and change company business models. This would include changing private insurance coverage to covering copayments and insuring rare or drugs not on the national formulary.

There’s no better time

Canadian government must take action now and provide the universal coverage we deserve to ensure all citizens live a healthy life without the barrier of cost for medication. If our government doesn’t take action, the discrimination will continue, and cost will continue to be an issue for those who rely on medication.

The quality of life of Canadian citizens should be the forefront of the government’s priorities. By adapting a new legislation to adapt a Universal Pharmacare program, we are working in the right direction to equality for all.

With a new minority government in place, it is possible that the Liberal government can push towards universal pharmacare. Trudeau government made a promise to implement a down payment on pharmacare over the next four years. It’s time for our government to come to an agreement, work together, and advocate for a healthier society.

How safe are Canadian School Buses?

By: Olufunke Pegba-Otemolu

Canadian school buses should be a safe means of transportation for our children, not safety risks.

Yet the state of Ontario school buses means lives are being needlessly lost and major life-time injuries sustained through accident. Canada has recorded at least 23 school bus passenger deaths and 10,480 documented injuries since 1984.

Is it fair to say because of the low deaths’ percentage involving school buses, the necessary safety measures should not be taken? No, we can’t because the life of every child matters.

The fact that education is offered free, does not mean the standard of safety for the children should be overlooked or compromised. In order words we have an obligation to these future leaders to provide them unaltered safety measures in all situation at all times. Out of seven fatalities in small school bus crashes, six children would have survived if they had all worn a seatbelt.

While cost should not be a major factor when it comes to protecting children, the data shows the costs of safety are manageable.

Though the accidents may not happen yearly, the percentage may seem low but let’s not forget that the life of some children are being cut short due to either negligence or irrational thinking of saving cost or funds. These children who died are from a family where they are cherished.

Second, it is an irony that seatbelts, primarily designed to minimize injury or restrain a child from been thrown out of a vehicle, is enforced for children in private vehicles but is not available in Ontario school buses. Even the adult bus drivers are belted Third, eight states in the United States representing about 40% of the U.S population are required by law to have seatbelts on school buses as their National Transportation Safety Board and National Safety Council agreed that seatbelts on school buses save lives and prevent injury.

While the Ministry of Transportation in Canada is yet to take a stand on this. The minister recently set up a task force to examine the issue and promised to do the right thing once a report is submitted by the task force.

Hopefully, it will dawn on the government that retrofitting and installing seatbelts in the new school buses is very much doable, and not as complicated as it is been perceived, rather it will bring school bus passenger deaths to the barest minimum, because the aim

here is to make sure there are no deaths when accidents happen and major injuries are reduced to as well.

This goes to say that the safety of children should not be debated nor speculated before the right decision is taken.