March 11, 2024

Majority of Canadians support a windfall profit tax on oil and gas companies’ historically high profits  

With federal budget looming, poll finds cross-Canada support for tax on Big Oil profits

OTTAWA | TRADITIONAL, UNCEDED TERRITORY OF THE ALGONQUIN ANISHNAABEG PEOPLE — New polling shows a majority of Canadians (62 per cent) support a windfall profit tax on oil and gas companies’ historically high profits. This majority support was found throughout Canada, with the strongest support in Quebec and Ontario. 

Ahead of the federal budget, Canadian civil society groups are calling for the federal government to implement a windfall profit tax on oil and gas companies to fund climate solutions and nature protection. Over 22,000 people in Canada have written to the government to support this call. 

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, energy prices surged, and oil and gas companies made historically high profits while driving inflation.   

In a recent Leger survey, people were asked whether Canada should introduce a tax on these profits, as other countries such as the United Kingdom have; 62 per cent agreed, 21 per cent disagreed and 17 per cent responded they don’t know.  

The 2022 federal budget introduced a one-time tax of 15 per cent on profits above $1 billion for banks and insurance companies. Last fall, the parliamentary budget officer estimated that extending the tax to the oil and gas sector could generate $4.2 billion in revenue over five years.  

A windfall profit tax was also recently recommended by the House of Commons’ finance committee. It suggested new taxes on oil and gas companies as well as grocery retailers for their excessively high profits.  

The David Suzuki Foundation, and Climate Action Network Canada commissioned the Leger survey. 

Civil society groups have come together on the campaign Make Polluters Pay  calling on Minister Chrystia Freeland to make oil and gas companies pay their fair share into the public purse in this federal budget.  

Tom Green, senior climate adviser and economist, David Suzuki Foundation, said:   

Momentum is building for a windfall profit tax on oil and gas companies’ excessive profits. It’s easy to see why: the fossil fuel industry has made the affordability crisis harder for people while making out like bandits.  

“We know decision-makers are under pressure to cut spending but we must invest in a sustainable future for the next generation. Making polluters pay in this year’s federal budget would release billions of dollars in funding for essential climate solutions and nature protection. 

“The fossil fuel industry is making the climate crisis worse each day. We need governments to step in, otherwise we risk more devastating climate impacts.”  

Jim Stanford, economist, Centre for Future Work, commented: 

“Sky-high petroleum prices and sky-high oil and gas profits, were the biggest single factor causing recent high inflation in Canada. Even with moderating gasoline prices, petroleum profits in 2023 were still $30 billion higher than the last year before the pandemic. Those excess oil and gas profits are 7.5 times larger than the growth in grocery store profits (up $4 billion in the same time), that has rightly generated such public anger. It’s time Canadians turned their attention to the much larger excess profits being captured by the oil and gas giants.”   

“An excess profits tax on petroleum sector, similar to measures already applied to banks and insurance companies, would be a fair and efficient way to redistribute those inflationary profits back to hard-pressed Canadian consumers. It would be good for the planet and good for the economy.” 

Amara Possian, Canada team lead,, said: 

“It’s criminal that oil and gas companies are raking in record profits while the rest of us struggle. People across Canada are facing a worsening housing crisis, skyrocketing bills, and climate-driven disasters that threaten our health, homes, and communities. It’s time for the government to stand with the majority of the public, who support taxing Big Oil’s excess profits tax. If our leaders make polluters pay their fair share, we can fund the bold climate action this moment demands.” 

Caroline Brouillette, executive director, Climate Action Network Canada, said: 

“Canadians are struggling with the rising cost of living; meanwhile, oil and gas companies are raking in record profits. These two things are directly related. During a year when temperature records are being smashed, we cannot allow CEOs and shareholders to get richer and richer from climate destruction. Extending the windfall profits tax to the fossil fuel sector would raise billions for climate solutions with tangible benefits for people. We urge Minister Freeland to listen to what Canadians want and introduce a tax on windfall oil and gas profits in Budget 2024.”  

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For more information or media interviews, please contact: 

Melanie Karalis, [email protected], 548-588-1279