Yesterday, however, auditor general Sheila Fraser came down hard on the program as part of a larger condemnation of the government's action on the environment in a review of all programs aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
This is a lede from an Ottawa Sun story on Fraser's report:
The federal government hasn't got a clue if the billions it spends on green initiatives are working or where it's even being spent according to a sweeping report by Canada's environmental watchdog.One of those initiatives, the 15.5-per-cent transit tax credit that was slated to cost $635 million in foregone tax revenue over two years, was roundly criticized for being ineffective. This is among the most relevant passages from her report (emphasis ours):
In its 2007 Climate Change Plan under the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act, Environment Canada stated that the Tax Credit is expected to result in emission reductions of 220,000 tonnes each year from 2008 through 2012. This was approximately double Finance Canada's estimate of the resulting emission reductions in its strategic environmental assessment. In its 2008 Plan, Environment Canada amended the figure for expected reductions to an average of 35,000 tonnes per year—about 16 percent of the original estimate. Given the lowered figure, the Tax Credit will have a negligible impact on Canada's greenhouse gas emissions.And even if the program did have any measurable impact on cutting emissions, that impact would apparently be quite hard to quantify (again, emphasis ours):
Many factors influence public transit ridership, including the price of gasoline. The result is that it is almost impossible to measure actual greenhouse gas emission reductions attributable to the tax credit. With regard to other air emissions, Environment Canada could not provide any analysis to support the assertion that the Tax Credit would result in measurable impacts.Do readers take advantage of this tax credit?