Everything is on the table, including exemptions, for North carbon tax: federal official

The three Northern territories are not included in federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna's carbon tax plan, unveiled last week.

Ottawa working with all 3 territories to study impact of southern carbon tax on the North

A federal official says Ottawa is working separately with each territory to determine how carbon pricing in the south will impact goods and commodities shipped north. (iStock)

A senior official with the federal environment department says the North isn't included in Ottawa's current plans for a carbon tax. 

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna released details of the federal plan for the provinces last week. But an official with the department, who didn't want to be named, said Yukon, N.W.T. and Nunavut are being analyzed separately, and everything is on the table — including exemptions.

The official told CBC that because the North faces specific challenges such as climate and remoteness, the plan for the southern provinces does not apply.

He said the federal government is working separately with each territory to determine how carbon pricing in the south will impact goods and commodities shipped north. The studies will also examine the impact of carbon pricing within the territories themselves.

Those studies will then reportedly be used to form an analysis that can be used for decisions made later this fall.

The premiers of Nunavut and the N.W.T. have expressed concerns about the possible impact of a carbon tax on their territories' economies. Yukon's premier campaigned last year on a promise to ensure all carbon tax money returns to Yukoners in the form of rebates. 

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The federal official said he has met with senior Yukon government officials, and that "the ball is still in the Yukon government's court — they can design their own system, or they can ask [Ottawa] to step in." 

He also referred to "some political expectation" that Yukon will have some form of carbon pricing, following the election campaign.

He noted there will be "significant Indigenous involvement" in collecting the data that will provide the basis of the analysis, as well as involvement of NGOs and the business community.

"This won't be a closed door process", he said, and "no final political decision has been made."


Raised in Ross River, Yukon, Nancy Thomson is a graduate of Ryerson University's journalism program. Her first job with CBC Yukon was in 1980, when she spun vinyl on Saturday afternoons. She rejoined CBC Yukon in 1993, and focuses on First Nations issues and politics. You can reach her at