Carbon tax funds efficiency upgrades to 160 Sask. schools ahead of Supreme Court challenge
REGINA -- The federal government announced funding for more than 160 projects to make Saskatchewan schools more energy-efficient, stating the money is coming from its carbon pollution pricing, also refered to as the carbon tax.
In a release Wednesday, Federal Environment and Climate Change minister, Jonathan Wilkinson said, “By investing the proceeds from carbon pollution pricing in Saskatchewan into schools in the province, we are reducing emissions and creating a greener, more prosperous future for our children and grandchildren.”
In June 2019, the federal government announced the Municipalities, Universities, Schools and Hospitals (MUSH) Climate Action Incentive Fund. With the first round of funding, $60 million, dedicated to energy efficiency projects in schools. Saskatchewan’s share, to be split by its 27 school divisions, is roughly $12 million.
Specific projects include, $76,800 in upgraded light fixtures at Moose Jaw’s Vanier College, $333,000 for LED lighting at Michael A. Riffel Catholic High School in Regina, and $571,000 for boiler replacement and retrofits at Saskatoon’s Evan Hardy Collegiate.
According to the federal government, approximately 90 per cent of carbon pricing proceeds go back to taxpayers, with the other 10 per cent used for programs like MUSH.
It’s a system that doesn’t sit well with Saskatchewan’s premier Scott Moe.
“It's Saskatchewan people's money that is now being returned to school divisions and being returned to the people of the province and we've always put forward that it shouldn't have been taken in the first place,” Moe said “It is an ineffective tax it doesn't reduce emissions it actually reduces jobs by forcing industries to consider other areas of the world. To set up their operations.”
Earlier this week, Premier Moe sent Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a letter, expressing concern over the Prime Minister’s “ambition green agenda,” suggesting it is “code for shutting down the energy industry.”
In the letter, Moe referenced how “ residents of Saskatchewan continue to be inequitably impacted by the federal carbon tax.” Moe urged Trudeau to pause the tax until the Supreme Court has made its decision.
“We will hope for an answer in next week's throne speech on that among a number of other items that we had written to the Prime Minister on, on behalf of the people of this province,” said Moe.
The Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act was introduced into Parliament on March 28, 2018.
Ryan Meili, the leader of the Saskatchewan NDP, said the federal carbon tax doesn’t work for Saskatchewan people. He would like to see carbon pricing at the provincial level.
“Its not a good model. It is costing people more than they can afford, especially in rural areas and we are disappointed that we have had it for a year and a half because Scott Moe refused to come up with an alternative. He would prefer to have the political fight than to actually reduce cost of living for Saskatchewan people," Meili said.
The government of Saskatchewan challenged the constitutionality of this act, claiming it was not within the federal government’s jurisdiction to impose such an act. In May of 2019, the Court of Appeal sided with the Federal Government in a 3-2 split decision. The case will be heard by the Supreme Court of Canada starting on September 23rd, the same day, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will deliver his Throne Speech.