In defiance of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s refusal to extend a carbon tax exemption on all forms of home heating, the Saskatchewan government has taken the initiative and introduced the Carbon Tax Fairness for Families Amendment Act.
Bill 151, spearheaded by the ruling Saskatchewan Party and introduced in legislature on Thursday by SaskEnergy Minister Dustin Duncan, is set to stop the collection of the federal carbon tax on natural gas bills.
The move is seen as a direct response to the federal government’s decision to pause the carbon tax on home heating oil, a measure focusing on carve-outs for Atlantic provinces.
The Saskatchewan government argues that Trudeau’s decision to pause carbon tax on home heating oil creates an unfair situation, as it does not offer similar treatment to natural gas users, like most residents in Saskatchewan.
By designating SaskEnergy as the sole registered distributor of natural gas in the province, the bill aims to provide legal protection to the Crown corporation and its associates from any repercussions of not remitting the carbon tax.
This legislation was introduced shortly after Premiers from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, Alberta, and Saskatchewan each signed a letter urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to apply the carbon tax equally across Canada.
Whether other provinces will follow suit and propose similar legislation remains to be seen.
Following Deputy Minister Chrystia Freeland’s recent meeting with provincial finance ministers, she urged premiers to follow federal law.
“I think an expectation shared by all Canadians is that everyone in the country should follow the law. That’s our expectation, and it’s our job to ensure that the law is enforced. It will be,” said Freeland.
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and Minister Duncan have voiced their stance against the federal carbon tax.
“We still believe the federal government should remove the carbon tax on everything for everyone. But until that happens, our government will ensure fairness for Saskatchewan families by taking the carbon tax off their SaskEnergy bills,” said Duncan.
The financial implications of this bill are significant for Saskatchewan residents.
The government estimates that removing the carbon tax from SaskEnergy bills will save the average family in the province about $400 next year.
While Freeland has affirmed the federal government’s commitment to upholding the law, the recent introduction of this legislation by Saskatchewan could lead to a legal standoff.