Saskatchewan·SASK BUDGET 2022

Sask. budget hints at provincial government's proposed carbon tax revenue strategy

Saskatchewan's provincial budget included a hint about a provincial proposal to administer the carbon tax revenue, a move the government says would allow Saskatchewan to address its own unique needs and challenges.

Province proposes taking control of revenue distribution, splitting between consumers and industry

A man fills up his truck with gas in Toronto, on Monday April 1, 2019
Saskatchewan'sbudget said the province was proposing to take over administration of federal carbon tax revenue. (Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press)

Saskatchewan's budget, released on Wednesday, shows the province isn't giving up its fight over the carbon tax. 

The 2022-23 budget indicated the provincial government — which took the federal government to the Supreme Court over the carbon tax last year and lost — wants to administer carbon tax revenues in Saskatchewan. 

"The government believes that it is better to have full control of this tax and its associated revenues, rather than accept that the federal government will continue to make the decisions on how to best return the revenues within Saskatchewan," the budget document said. 

Wednesday's budget document said if the plan is approved, the province would address its "own unique priorities and needs" by deciding how revenues from fuel charges would be distributed back to households and businesses in Saskatchewan.

Premier Scott Moe, when asked what the people of Saskatchewan could expect under the proposed plan, said it depends on what the federal government says. 

He said he hoped to speak to the next leader of the provincial NDP to ask the federal NDP — who recently entered an agreement to support the federal Liberal party — to support Saskatchewan's proposal. 

"Saskatchewan, the provinces need to have administration of this ridiculous tax so they can properly bring together an offset system to reward those industries that are making the investments and actual emission reductions," Moe said. 

The premier said that as long as the federal government maintains administration of carbon tax dollars, the province is unable to move forward in administering a carbon credit system for industries like agriculture, energy or mining. 

"That is what we need to do if we are truly going to be, and continue to be, competitive," Moe said. 

Premier Scott Moe says a carbon tax will only be effective if the companies responsible for producing emissions are also compensated for the work they're doing to reduce emissions, too. (Matt Duguid/CBC)

After question period in Regina on Thursday, Moe provided more information on what specifically the province is proposing. 

Moe said the provincial government's proposal sought to find balance between consumers and industries, and what portion could go back into cleaning up Saskatchewan's existing energy infrastructure.

He said if the carbon tax was going to be effective, a portion of the money would need to go back to industry to recognize the work they're doing to reduce emissions, too.

Moe said it would ultimately depend on whether or not the federal government accepts Saskatchewan's proposal — which he said was presented to the federal government some time ago — and what the agreed upon terms looked like. 

"I honestly think at the very core of it, this is not an area where the federal government actually wants to be," he said. 

"They do want this to be provincially administered so that it can be reactive to the various diversity that we have across this nation." 

Opposition calls for more transparency

In response to Moe's comments, NDP agriculture critic Trent Wotherspoon said Saskatchewan's NDP always supported a made-in-Saskatchewan carbon tax strategy. 

He said any plan needs to recognize and ensure industries and workers affected by the carbon tax, like agriculture producers in the province, are taken care of.

Opposition agriculture critic Trent Wotherspoon called for transparency from the premier in his proposal to take control of carbon tax revenues in Saskatchewan. (Moreen Mugerwa/CBC)

However, he said the province needs to be clear about what it's proposing to do first. 

"The government should lay this plan on the table for Saskatchewan people as well, and it should be open and transparent about what they're presenting," Wotherspoon said. 

"Judging by their history and how they consult with Saskatchewan people and who they consult and who they listen to, I'm concerned that this government hasn't gone about this in a very even handed way." 

Wotherspoon also said he felt the provincial government was a "laggard" when it comes to actions on reducing emissions like funding energy efficient retrofits, exploring renewable power opportunities or rooftop solar projects further. 

Looking further into those subjects, he said, would also create more jobs in Saskatchewan, support local businesses and drive investment to the province.

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