Floods, fires, and tax havens | National Union of Public and General Employees

Floods, fires, and tax havens

What links tax havens to flooding and wildland fires is the response we hear all too often when money is needed to respond to climate change — "there isn’t the money."

Ottawa (30 April 2019) — Communities in New Brunswick, Quebec, and Ontario are coping with flooding as rivers rise to record levels. In Saskatchewan and British Columbia, wildland firefighters are battling forest and grass fires. And last week, Canadians for Tax Fairness revealed that the amount of money Canadian corporations have in the 12 most popular tax havens has increased by 10 per cent to over $350 billion.

The link between flooding and wildfires is well established. While no one event can be attributed to climate change, the increase in the number of serious fires and floods we are seeing can.

Tax avoidance — why there isn’t the money to fight climate change

What links tax havens to flooding and wildland fires is the response we hear all too often when money is needed to respond to climate change — "there isn’t the money."

Government action is essential to stop climate change from getting worse and to protect people from the impact. From supporting the shift to renewable energy, to providing the support needed to make their homes energy efficient ,to improving public transport, governments have to take the lead.

There is also the need to help people and communities through the transition to a green economy. A just transition that does not leave people struggling will be costly — though nowhere near as costly as failing to respond to climate change.

When large corporations and the wealthy are allowed to use tax havens and other methods to avoid paying their share, it’s harder for governments to find the money.

$350 billion in top 12 tax havens is the tip of the iceberg

The $350 billion that corporations have in the 12 most popular tax havens is just what corporations reported that they have. Actually, billions more are hidden using anonymous shell companies. There are also individual holdings in tax havens.

Adding to the picture that the federal government is letting large corporations and the wealthy off the hook for things like tax expenditures of $24 billion for 4 tax loopholes that disproportionately benefit corporations and the wealthy. Then, just last week, there was the news of a $133 million excise tax write-off for a large corporation.

The federal government has the power to make the tax system fairer

There is a lot the federal government can do to make the tax system fairer that it isn’t doing. Many of the ways large corporations and the wealthy avoid taxes — including many of the ways tax havens are used — are legal. Things like the secrecy around corporate registrations makes it harder to catch large corporations and the wealthy when they break the law. And there still aren’t the resources to enforce the law.

While the federal government has taken some steps to improve the situation, they are no where near what is needed. If the federal government really wants to address the problem of climate change — and many of the other problems facing Canadians — that has to change. Otherwise, we will continue to hear governments claim that they can’t do what’s needed because the money isn’t there.


NUPGE

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE

 

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