Gas bills will look a little lighter as the peak of winter hits after the provincial government has vowed to cease collecting the carbon tax on SaskEnergy bills. Effective Jan. 1, 2024, the move to axe the carbon tax is anticipated to save the average Saskatchewan family around $400 throughout the coming calendar year with the Carbon Tax Fairness for Families Act.
“Our government is taking the necessary steps to protect Saskatchewan families’ ability to afford to heat their homes this winter by removing the federal carbon tax from the natural gas bills of residential customers,” said Dustin Duncan, the Minister Responsible for SaskEnergy in a media release. “This legislation will give our government, and me as Minister, the sole authority and responsibility for decisions regarding the collection and remittance of the federal carbon tax on SaskEnergy bills while also providing protection for SaskEnergy employees and board members.”
Premier Scott Moe made the announcement on Oct. 30, responding to a federal government decision that will cut the carbon tax on home heating oil. In Saskatchewan, an estimated 0.3 per cent of homes are heated using this method, and calls to slash the tax on all heating methods came from various places. Sources note that over the past year alone, SaskEnergy submitted $172 million in carbon tax to the federal government, and a motion from the provincial legislature supporting a move to not remit the tax to Ottawa was passed unanimously in late October. Introduced in April, 2019, the carbon tax on natural gas began at $20 per tonne ($0.0391 per cubic metre) with annual increases to a projected $110 per tonne ($0.2097 per cubic metre) by April, 2026. The April, 2023 amount was $65 per tonne ($0.1239 per cubic metre) and while PST is not applicable to the tax, GST is tacked on.
“We still believe the federal government should remove the carbon tax on everything for everyone,” Duncan said. “But until that happens, our government will ensure fairness for Saskatchewan families by taking the carbon tax off their SaskEnergy bills.”
Local MLAs weigh in
MLAs Warren Kaeding (Melville-Saltcoats) and Daryl Harrison (Cannington) answered a few of the World-Spectator’s questions regarding the Carbon Tax Fairness for Families Act.
What do you think of the whole carbon tax on heating issue?
Warren Kaeding: “What we introduced in this SaskEnergy Act is to try and provide a fairness. Because ultimately, how can you carve out one part of Canada and provide them a rebate or a concession and not allow that in the rest of Canada that’s still used as a hydrocarbon for heating? That’s the issue we’ve got is just the whole fairness part of this.”
Daryl Harrison: “When the prime minister announced that they were pausing the carbon tax for three years on home heating oil, it primarily affected the the Maritime Provinces. That was a clear indication that carbon tax is driving up the cost of living for for Canadians and they chose to carve out basically a portion of the country and not the rest.”
“There are more people that use wood than use home heating oil right now [in Saskatchewan] because we have a great natural gas network across the province. And going back to the 1980s when it was brought out to rural areas, it was promoted as a clean-burning fuel. People spent the money and bought into it and I don’t think anyone has regrets for doing it.”
What are your hearing from constituents in your area about this issue?
Warren Kaeding: “They’re totally all-in on our fight against the carbon tax because pretty well everyone sees that it’s not the most effective way to reduce emissions. Like we talked about before, really everyone is into supporting innovation and supporting the companies that are trying to make a difference through innovation and technology. Taxing us into compliance is definitely not an effective way and it’s for these reasons that we’re seeing all of a sudden now we get a carve out here, a carve out there, we don’t get a carve out.”
“We’re really concerned about this Bill C-234. That was supposed to provide a carve out for using natural gas for heating barns and grain dryers. And ultimately now we’ll probably see that bill dropped, just because the prime minister doesn’t want to have any more carve outs.”
Daryl Harrison: “I hear a lot that people want carbon dollars gone completely, but being that the prime minister has tipped his hand, as the carbon tax on home heating oil has raised the cost for people, that’s a clear admission that the carbon tax is is driving up the cost of living. I hear a lot of people that want it completely gone. And we did run a challenge all the way to the Supreme Court and we and we lost that. But this is an opportunity for us to to do it through to this bill.”
How big of a difference do you think this will make to individuals, farmers and businesses?
Warren Kaeding: “It will save individuals, we’ve been able to quantify it is kind of in that $250 to maybe $500 a year for the average consumer of natural gas for home heating. So that is pretty significant when you when you look at it on a year to year basis.”
Daryl Harrison: “It will reduce their cost of heating their homes and if the federal government comes to realize that this (the Carbon Tax) is hurting, families, farm, urban and businesses, hopefully they will do the right thing and make the exemption wider than they did for the home heating oil primarily in the Maritimes.
How do you think the Carbon Tax in general should be dealt with at this point?
Warren Kaeding: “It should be eliminated. I don’t know how we’re the only jurisdiction in the world now that is maintaining a carbon tax. Anybody else who tried it before, it was quickly dropped. It is just not a fair way to to approach emissions reductions with that our goal here, and ultimately that’s what we believe - our federal government wants to tax us to reduce emissions. Taxing it isn’t going to isn’t going to provide that.”
“If you want to go down the route of fairness, they say you’re almost making more in the rebates that they’re providing people every quarter, well, maybe in some locations where freight and transportation doesn’t factor a lot into your cost of living, but I would say Western Canada, we’re definitely not getting anywhere close back to what we’re being charged, if you extended all the way through the value chain. We continue to look back to this is one of the root causes of our issues with affordability.”
Daryl Harrison: “I want to get rid of the car carbon tax and our government have stated or been opposed to the carbon tax from the beginning.”
“I’ve always been opposed to it. Like I said, we we took it all the way to the Supreme Court. It’s just a really a regressive tax. And they always said that you would get back more than what you pay and that’s just not true. It’s not being applied fairly across the country.”
Ryan Kiedrowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The World-Spectator