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62% of Canadians back windfall tax on fossil fuel profits, says poll

In every region of Canada, pollsters found a majority of respondents agree Ottawa should introduce a windfall tax on oil and gas companies.
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Those who backed a windfall tax on oil and gas companies outnumbered those who opposed it by nearly three times.

Around 62 per cent of Canadians would support a federal windfall tax on above-average profits made by oil and gas companies, a new poll has found. 

The survey, carried out by Ledger on behalf of the David Suzuki Foundation, and Climate Action Network Canada, comes as Western governments have increasingly turned to windfall taxes to help populations deal with soaring energy prices. 

In 2022, the European Union levied a temporary windfall tax on surplus profits from oil and gas companies after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine led to record revenue. And over a dozen of the block’s members, plus the United Kingdom, have amended or proposed new tax policies to deal with excess profits and soaring prices. 

The Ledger survey, which polled more than 1,500 Canadian adults online, found a third of respondents strongly agreed Canada should introduce a similar tax on oil and gas companies’ historically high profits. Another 29 per cent somewhat agreed with the idea. 

Together, a majority of respondents in every region of Canada agreed the federal government should introduce a windfall tax on fossil fuel companies. The strongest support was found in Quebec and Ontario, where a respective 70 per cent and 64 per cent backed such a measure.

Slightly stronger support was found among males and those 55 and older. A combined 21 per cent of respondents disagreed with imposing the tax — about a third less than the 62 per cent who agreed a windfall tax should be introduced. 

“Momentum is building for a windfall profit tax on oil and gas companies’ excessive profits,” said Tom Green, a senior climate adviser and economist for the David Suzuki Foundation.

“It’s easy to see why: the fossil fuel industry has made the affordability crisis harder for people while making out like bandits.”

Green added that adding a windfall tax to the upcoming federal budget would offer “billions of dollars in funding for essential climate solutions and nature protection.”

In October 2023, a parliamentary budget officer estimated that applying a windfall profit tax to the oil and gas sector could generate $4.2 billion over five years. 

And in February 2024, the House of Commons’s finance committee recommended a windfall tax on companies that have made oversized profits by taking advantage of crises.

The committee pointed to profits made by grocery chains and oil and gas companies following the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.