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Sask. premier will remove carbon pricing on natural gas heating if feds don't expand current exemption

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Premier Scott Moe took to X Monday, announcing that the province intends to end carbon pricing on natural gas heating – after the federal government said it will pause carbon pricing on heating oil for the next three years.

“Today I am calling on the federal government to offer the same carbon tax exemption to Saskatchewan families by extending it to all forms of home heating, not just heating oil. It’s only fair to other Saskatchewan and Canadian families,” Moe said in the video statement.

“Hopefully, that exemption will be provided soon. But if not, effective Jan. 1, SaskEnergy will stop collecting and submitting the carbon tax on natural gas – effectively providing Saskatchewan residents with the very same exemption that the federal government is giving heating oil in Atlantic Canada.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Friday that the federal government would be doubling the pollution price rebate rural top-up rate and implementing a three-year pause to the federal carbon price on deliveries of heating oil in all jurisdictions where the federal fuel charge is in effect.

"If you live in a rural community, you don't have the same options that people who live in cities do. We get that," Trudeau said during the announcement. “So, this is more money in your pocket to recognize those realities, even as we continue to fight climate change.”

Immediately following the announcement, Moe said the exemption was an admission that carbon pricing costs more than it pays, a claim he reiterated in his announcement Monday.

While heating oil is used in both Ontario and Quebec, it’s primarily relied on in Atlantic Canada.

“The federal government may say that’s illegal and that you simply cannot choose to collect and pay your tax. In most cases I would agree with that,” Moe said. “But it’s the federal government that’s created two classes of taxpayer by providing an exemption for heating oil – an exemption that really only applies in one part of the country and effectively excludes Saskatchewan.”

Moe reiterated that the move is focused on ensuring Saskatchewan residents get a fair deal.

”As premier, it’s my job to ensure Saskatchewan residents are treated fairly and equally with our fellow Canadians in other parts of the country,” he said.

“And that’s what I’m doing today.”

In 2021, the Government of Saskatchewan lost its challenge against federal carbon pricing after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled it was constitutional.

SASK PARTY, SASK NDP UNITED IN OPPOSITION

Following Question Period on Monday, a motion by the Saskatchewan NDP – calling on the federal government to remove carbon pricing on all forms of home heating – passed unanimously.

The motion also outlined concerns over certain comments on carbon pricing made by the federal Minister of Rural Economic Development.

“The Assembly expresses deep concern over the divisive comments made by the Minister of Rural Economic Development, the Honourable Gudie Hutchings, on October 28, 2023 in which she blames Canadians living on the prairies for the unfair choices of the Liberal government,” the motion read.

“The Assembly calls on all parties in the Parliament of Canada to quickly work to remove the federal carbon tax from all forms of home heating for all Canadians.”

The government provided an amendment to the motion – calling for the “carbon tax” to be scrapped altogether – to which the opposition supported.

“What we heard today was agreement from both sides of the house,” Beck told reporters following Question Period.

“The actions taken by the federal government in removing the carbon tax from heating oil – something that really applies mainly to Atlantic Canada – is a measure of unfairness that simply can’t go without remedy.”

While the opposition and the government were united in their motion against federal carbon pricing rules - Beck was sure to note that the province’s “extraordinary but justified” actions were only acceptable if a deal with the federal government could not be reached.

Minister of Crown Investments Corporation Dustin Duncan said he hadn’t reached out to the appropriate federal authorities when asked about it Monday.

“It caught all of us by surprise,” Duncan said of the federal announcement. “So certainly there wasn’t outreach by the federal government to indicate that this was happening. But if there are discussions that need to be had with the federal government and officials … certainly we’ll have those.”

--With files from Rachel Aiello and Drew Postey.

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