Supreme Court to hand down decision on carbon tax Thursday

The court will will deliver a ruling on three separate legal challenges against the carbon pricing policy. The challenges were launched by the provinces of Saskatchewan, Ontario and Alberta.

Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta have challenged constitutionality of carbon tax

A pedestrian walks past the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa Nov. 26, 2020. The court will deliver its decision on a legal challenge against the federal government's carbon tax on Thursday morning. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

The Supreme Court of Canada will hand down its decision on the constitutionality of the federal carbon tax Thursday morning. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government brought the carbon tax into effect in 2019. 

Under the legislation, the federal government can impose its own carbon price "backstop" on provinces that do not have their own carbon tax, or don't have one that meets the minimum standards set by Parliament. 

Challenges were quickly filed by the provincial governments of Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

The provinces has argued that the law infringes on provincial jurisdiction and is therefore unconstitutional. 

Ottawa says climate change is of national concern. 

Lower courts ruled in the Saskatchewan and Ontario challenges that the federal government was within its rights to enact the carbon tax policy. 

In May 2019, Saskatchewan's Court of Appeal ruled in a 3-2 decision that the federal plan was constitutional.

WATCH | Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson discusses what happens if the government loses Supreme Court case in December 2020:

What happens if the feds lose Supreme Court carbon tax fight? | Jonathan Wilkinson

3 years ago
Duration 1:15
Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson on his government's plan to exceed Canada's 2030 Paris Agreement targets, and if there's a back up plan in the event the Supreme Court sides with the provinces.

Ontario's Court of Appeal ruled 4-1 for Ottawa's ability to implement the scheme while Alberta won a court challenge in its own courts

All three provincial decisions were then appealed to the Supreme Court. 

The highest court in Canada will not rule on whether the law is effective in reducing carbon emissions. 

Instead, the court will address whether the legislation is constitutional. 

The decision is scheduled to be handed down at 7:45 a.m. CST on Thursday. 


  • A previous version of this story said the decision is expected at 8:45 a.m. CST. In fact, it is expected at 7:45 a.m. CST.
    Mar 24, 2021 12:50 PM CT

With files from CBC's Adam Hunter