Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe speaks at a press conference at the Legislative Building in Regina, Thursday, March 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michael Bell

Saskatchewan premier says Ottawa has rejected province’s carbon pricing plan

Saskatchewan premier says Ottawa has rejected province’s carbon pricing plan

REGINA — Premier Scott Moe says Ottawa has rejected Saskatchewan’s plan for replacing the federal carbon price with one of its own, while the Liberal government is saying any proposed changes simply have to wait.

Moe announced that the province would submit a plan for approval after the Supreme Court of Canada in March ruled the Liberal government’s price on carbon was constitutional.

People in Saskatchewan have been paying the federal carbon price on fuel, but Moe’s government had rejected that as being a punishing tax that made the province less competitive for business.

He said that Saskatchewan would introduce a carbon price similar to New Brunswick’s that would “provide an immediate rebate right at the pump.”

In a letter sent to his provincial counterpart, federal Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson says the federal government is updating its benchmark criteria for carbon pricing.

“Canada has committed to updating its approach to carbon pricing to make it more fair and rigorous,” reads the letter. “In the coming months, all provinces and territories will have the opportunity to propose, for the 2023-2030 period, carbon-pricing systems that meet these updated stringency criteria.”

The letter says one of the key changes will be a requirement for governments not to weaken a carbon price on fuel by providing upfront rebates or reducing fuel taxes to offset the price.

“As we are currently updating the benchmark to ensure fairness and consistency across Canada, and to provide certainty and stability for residents and businesses, at this stage the earliest any new or expanded system will be able to replace the backstop will be in January 2023,” Moira Kelly, Wilkinson’s press secretary, said in a statement.

“We are pleased to see Saskatchewan’s interest in developing a made-in-Saskatchewan pollution pricing plan, and remain open to conversations with Saskatchewan about what their system could look like going forward.”

carbon pricing