'About fairness': Saskatchewan government won't remit carbon levy to Ottawa

REGINA — The minister responsible for Saskatchewan’s energy utility said Thursday the province will not be remitting the federal carbon levy on natural gas to Ottawa.

Premier Scott Moe posted a video on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, of Dustin Duncan making the announcement as sleet and wind whips around him outside the Parliament Buildings.

“Today, I took a walk in the rain and made an important decision about the carbon tax," said Duncan, alluding to the "walk in the snow" former prime minister Pierre Trudeau purportedly took 40 years ago before he stepped down.

The Saskatchewan and Alberta governments have said it’s not fair Ottawa has exempted home heating oil from the carbon charge — a move that largely benefits Atlantic Canadians — and has not done the same for natural gas, used to warm homes on much of the Prairies.

Moe had announced SaskEnergy would stop collecting carbon levies from customers in January, and the province had until Thursday to remit those dollars. Had it decided to remit, the funds could have come from provincial revenues or the utility’s bottom line.

Duncan said the decision not to remit wasn’t taken lightly and the provincial government recognizes there may be consequences.

SaskEnergy is breaking federal emissions law by choosing not to remit the levy, which could result in fines or jail time for executives. The Saskatchewan government has passed legislation that aims to shield executives from legal consequences, putting that burden on the province.

Duncan said the average household in Saskatchewan is expected to save about $400 this year as a result of the province no longer collecting the charge on carbon.

"This is also about fairness and our government refusing to allow (Prime Minister Justin) Trudeau to treat Saskatchewan people like second−class citizens," said Duncan.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Feb. 29, 2024.

The Canadian Press

Photo: Prime Minister Justin