OTTAWA — The federal government is cutting the amount of money small- and medium-sized businesses will be given from carbon pricing revenues so it can increase the amount of money rebated to rural families.

That's happening even as the government still owes businesses $2.5 billion in carbon pricing revenues from the first five years of the program.

Dan Kelly, the president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, says businesses were already getting far less back from carbon pricing than they pay, and this will make that even worse.

The federal government says it intends to return $623 million in carbon pricing revenues to businesses for the 2023-24 year.

That's one-third less than was set aside for business rebates for the previous year when the carbon price itself was $15 less per tonne.

The carbon price rebate programs for business are tied specifically to investments they make in energy efficiencies, but those programs have issued less than $100 million to businesses to date.

The federal government's decision last fall to add another 10 per cent to household carbon rebates for rural Canadians reduced the amount of money left to distribute to business even further.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 20, 2024.