By Greg Pollowitz, Planet Gore
This would be funny if it wasn’t putting lives at risk:
The Lower Mainland’s health authorities will have to dig more than $4 million a year out of their already stretched budgets to pay B.C.’s carbon tax and offset their carbon footprints. Critics say the payments mean the government’s strategy to fight climate change [hoax] will further exacerbate a crisis in health funding. “You have public hospitals cutting services to pay a tax that goes to another 100 per cent government-owned agency,” NDP health critic Adrian Dix said. “That just doesn’t make sense.” The Fraser Health Authority will pay $616,000 in carbon tax this year, rising to $821,000 next year, officials there said. And by 2010 Fraser will also be paying $1.3 million a year to the province’s Pacific Carbon Trust to offset its projected 52,600 tonnes of carbon emissions released. The trust pays out money to offset projects — for example to help a firm upgrade its industrial heating system so less carbon-based fossil fuel is used. The carbon emissions saved are counted against what the paying arm of government emits. Vancouver Coastal Health Authority also expects its costs will be close to $2 million next year in combined carbon tax and offset payments. Fraser Health officials are grappling with a budget shortfall of more than $100 million and potential cuts to patient services, while low on their list, have not been ruled out. Dix warned that some of the potential cuts — such as closing the ER at Mission Memorial Hospital — would actually increase carbon emissions by sending patients further afield. “Obviously when you shut down regional centres it makes people travel farther to get to their health care facility,” he said.