Saskatchewan to End Carbon Levy on Electric Heat, Premier Announces

0
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe gestures while speaking at his party's convention in Regina, on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Heywood Yu

Premier Scott Moe has announced that Saskatchewan will stop collecting the carbon levy on electric heat, a move set to take effect on January 1, 2024, according to The Canadian Press.

Addressing Regional Heating Needs

In a video announcement, Premier Moe and Saskatchewan Party MLA Jim Lemaigre highlighted the change, addressing the heating preferences in the province. Approximately 85% of homes in Saskatchewan use natural gas for heating, while the remaining 15% rely on electric heat and other sources. This is particularly relevant in the province’s north, where many residents use electricity for heating.

Implementing the Change

Premier Moe acknowledged the logistical aspects of the plan: “We’re going to need to determine who is heating their home with electricity and then estimate the percentage of their power bill that is being used for that heat,” he said. “But those are details and we will get that all worked out.”

Federal Housing Minister Sean Fraser says the carbon policy shift will protect the environment while saving money for Canadians. Fraser discusses why Ottawa made changes to carbon pricing, and the impact felt in his home region of Atlantic Canada.

Response to Federal Carbon Pricing

The move comes in the wake of the federal government’s exemption of home heating oil from the carbon charge, which Moe criticized for primarily benefiting Atlantic Canada. In response, Saskatchewan introduced the “Carbon Tax Fairness for Families Amendment Act” into the legislature. The act aims to protect SaskEnergy executives from penalties if the corporation does not remit the tax.

Opposition and Government Alignment

This decision marks a rare alignment between the government and the opposition in Saskatchewan. NDP Leader Carla Beck expressed support for the move, saying, “Affordability measures are needed for people in this province.” Beck also urged the government to consider suspending the gas tax.

Prime Minister’s Response

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, responding to Saskatchewan’s intentions, reiterated the importance of adherence to federal regulations: “Canada is a country of the rule of law, and we expect all Canadians to follow the law,” he said. “That applies to provinces as much as it applies to individual citizens.”

Implications of the Announcement

Premier Moe’s announcement reflects Saskatchewan’s ongoing stance against federal carbon pricing and underscores the province’s commitment to providing economic relief to its residents. The decision is seen as a step towards addressing regional disparities in the impact of the carbon levy.