A new bill, called The SaskEnergy (Carbon Tax Fairness for Families) Amendment Act was introduced by the Minister Responsible for SaskEnergy, Dustin Duncan Thursday afternoon.
The bill is a follow-up from Premier Scott Moe’s announcement on October 30th that SaskEnergy would stop collecting carbon tax on home heating bills in the new year, in response to the federal government’s decision to pause the collection of carbon tax on home heating oil.
“We want to have the same treatment that the Prime Minister has given to Canadians in Atlantic Canada when it comes to removing the carbon tax on the way that they heat their homes,” Duncan told Discover Weyburn.
The bill that was introduced in the legislature when passed, will transfer the responsibilities and obligations of SaskEnergy contained in the Greenhouse Gas and Pollution Pricing Act, the federal act that created the carbon levy, from SaskEnergy to the minister responsible, which is currently Duncan.
“If there is a decision to be made at some point to stop remitting the carbon tax, that decision will be the government; it will be my decision to do that,” Duncan clarified. The bill is also aimed at preventing the board of SaskEnergy, any of its officers, and any of its employees, from having to deal with any legal consequences.
“The normal day-to-day operations of SaskEnergy continue,” Duncan explained further. “We have a board in place, we have officers of the company that will continue to do a great job for the people of Saskatchewan day in and day out.” He continued that the provincial legislation will remove the responsibility for collecting, remitting, and accounting for the carbon tax from SaskEnergy and put it into the responsibility of the minister.
When Moe first announced his decision that SaskEnergy would stop collecting the carbon tax in late October, many thought it would be a case of which side would blink first – the province, or Ottawa. With the introduction of the bill, Duncan said it shows the Saskatchewan government won’t be the ones blinking first.
Earlier this month, a motion from the federal Conservatives was introduced in the House of Commons calling on the federal government to put the exemption for the carbon tax onto all forms of household heating, not just home heating oil, which is predominantly used in Atlantic Canada.
“We certainly were hoping that that would send a signal, and even the fact that the NDP nationally, and the Conservative Party, voted together on that motion, hopefully, that sent a signal to the federal government that we need to see fairness for the rest of Canada,” added Duncan.
When the decision was first announced by Moe, it gained support from the opposition NDP here in Saskatchewan. Duncan noted Thursday was the first time the opposition had seen the bill, and he hoped they would be willing to support the bill so it could be passed quickly.
The federal government has stated they will not be putting any more carve-outs or exemptions to the carbon tax in place, despite calls from most provincial governments, no matter which party they belong to.
The Saskatchewan government has stated that removing the carbon tax from SaskEnergy bills will save the average SaskEnergy residential customer around $400 a year.