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‘She’d tell them to stuff it’: Outrage after Alberta demands return of carbon tax rebates from deceased

CALGARY – If Marie Casey was still alive when she received a bill from the province, demanding she return her $100 rebate from the NDP’s carbon tax, the feisty great grandmother wouldn’t have minced words.

“She’d tell them to stuff it and keep it,” said Darlene Piche, the daughter of the recently passed Strathmore woman, who was floored when she received the notice from the government to her mom’s estate, calling for the return of the cash just six weeks after Casey died.

Casey, who would have been 75 in April, received her carbon tax rebate from the province in early January. The $100 cheque, issued to middle- and lower-income Albertans to offset the costs of the controversial levy, was supposed to cover the period between January and June.

But just 16 days later, the mother of five with seven grandchildren and six great grandchildren, died.

Dealing with her mom’s death while handling the estate, the last thing that occurred to Piche is the province would come looking for its money back.

“I was dumbfounded. And then my dumbfoundedness turned to anger,” said Piche, who received the bill from the province via Revenue Canada March 3.

“And all I could think was ‘how can you people do this?’ To have that insult added to injury. I already have enough on my plate and then I have the government coming after me.”

Darlene Piche holds the carbon tax rebate her mother received along with the bill for its return after she passed away this past January.

The notice on the letter is as simple as it is cold: “We determined that you are no longer eligible to receive ACLAR (Alberta Climate Leadership Adjustment Rebate) payments.”

Below that is the amount due: $100.

Piche isn’t the only one facing demands to return the carbon tax levy after losing a loved one.

Loreen Forrest lives in Rosemary, population 396, sandwiched between Brooks and Bassano.

Her father, Jacob Wiems, was bedridden in a care facility for two years after a fall shattered his hip. But at 95 years old, not paying for gas or heating, he received the rebate anyway.

He died Jan. 11, just a few days after he received his rebate cheque. Last week, the government asked for it back.

“It’s kind of hurtful. I was so stunned I had to read it twice,” Forrest said.

“I thought if I could gather $100 in pennies and send that, that would be a good idea. But right now I don’t really want to pay it. It’s the principle of the thing.”

Loreen Forrest shows a bill from the Alberta government requesting the carbon tax rebate back from her father’s estate.

Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci on Tuesday acknowledged the fact grieving families are being asked to return their loved ones refunds is “not right,” and he says the province will begin discussions immediately with the Canada Revenue Agency to correct the unforeseen issue.

“I have urged the CRA to prevent this sort of thing from happening again,” said the Calgary MLA.

“I think families deserve and expect better when they lose a loved one. The loss of a loved one is difficult and I think the last thing they need at a time like this is to get a letter than causes any more stress in their lives.”

Meanwhile, Strahmore’s Piche said she’ll be looking for compensation of her own.

Piche noted her mother was a Status Native in Canada, and thus exempt from having to pay for provincial carbon tax.

“When we went to have her cremated, there was a $10.09 charge for carbon tax on it,” she said.

“I would really appreciate my $10.09 back.”