Saskatchewan

Premier criticizes report that says most Sask. households come out ahead despite carbon tax

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe is responding to a report on the carbon tax tabled by the parliamentary budget office which says most households in this province will benefit once rebates are taken into consideration.

Opposition Leader Ryan Meili also raising concerns about budget watchdog's findings

Premier Scott Moe called the parliamentary budget office report on the carbon tax incomplete. (Bryan Eneas/CBC)

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe is responding to a report on the carbon tax tabled by the parliamentary budget office which says most households in this province will benefit once rebates are taken into consideration.

The report by the independent budget watchdog says in Saskatchewan, the average household is expected to pay $425 in carbon tax this year.

That's the highest of the four provinces which had the tax implemented on them by the federal government.

But when rebates are included, most people come out ahead, the report says.

For instance, the lowest-income families in Sask. are expected to net around $70 more than they pay.

Moe, whose government is suing Ottawa to have the tax declared unconstitutional, called the report "incomplete."

"In many ways it looks at direct costs to families but does not include many, many indirect costs that will be impacted to families and industries," Moe said Friday in a CBC interview.

Moe cited freight of products between jurisdictions and costs of products that are purchased by individuals and by industries as examples of what the report misses.

He said those costs and their impact on the provincial economy will be challenging to measure.

Moe said the report indicates the carbon tax doesn't have anything to do with reducing emissions.  Rather, he says, it's just a wealth redistribution program.

He noted the report does show emissions will be cut by 15 per cent, but insists that's not the carbon tax's doing.

Moe attributed that drop to a shift towards cleaner energy generation, a shift in the fuel efficiency in the vehicles people drive and a 16 per cent decline in oil and gas emissions.

"[The oil and gas emissions decline] is due to a decline in supply, not a decline in demand, but a decline in supply from 2019 to 2024," Moe said.

"This actually goes contrary to a National Energy Board report that's been released that says between 2017 and 2040 there will actually be a 50 per cent increase in Canadian oil and gas production."

Carbon tax unfair to rural families: Opposition leader

NDP Opposition Leader Ryan Meili said now that the numbers are out, the question of how distribution of the tax works across the provinces is one of his main concerns.

"One of the reasons I think Trudeau's carbon tax is concerning is it really is unfair, I think, to rural families in particular, as well as agriculture," Meili said.

He was uncertain whether or not families who have to drive to hockey tournaments through the winter will really benefit from the rebates.

Meili said people might be happy for a day or two after people receive their rebates after filing their taxes, but every day after that, they're still paying carbon taxes.

The opposition leader has often been a target for the premier and the Sask Party for supporting the carbon tax. When asked to respond to those criticisms, Meili said that simply isn't the case.

"What is clearly the case, and I think is pretty wide agreement across the province, is the Trudeau tax is not a fit for us," Meili said.

With files from Adam Hunter, The Canadian Press

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