Scott Moe, the province’s Minister of Environment, spoke about his government’s opposition to the carbon tax and what can be expected from the upcoming budget at an event in Nipawin.
Moe stated that while climate change is a global problem, the Government of Saskatchewan doesn’t see a carbon tax as an effective solution.
“If the federal carbon tax is imposed on Saskatchewan, it would be the single largest tax increase ever felt by the people in this province. The largest tax with arguably the least results in regards to real reductions of our greenhouse gas emissions and carbon footprint,” he said.
Moe cited a carbon tax cost of $2.5 billion, compared to $2.8 billion paid in income tax in Saskatchewan.
“It would equate to 11 cents a litre on gasoline, 14 cents a litre on diesel and a family of four would see your annual taxes increase by $1,250. All the while providing very, very little in the way of an impact or a reduction or an improvement in the conversation around climate change.”
The Environment Minister worried that the carbon tax would drive away companies in the potash and canola crushing industries. He said farmers wouldn’t leave, but their bottom line would be affected, despite the carbon sequestering that occurs in the agriculture industry through zero-till methods.
“The fact of the matter is this: Saskatchewan agricultural producers are feeding the world and agriculture is at the very minimum a carbon neutral industry and quite likely, as we clarify our science, we’re going to find that it is a valuable and an unrecognized carbon sink.”
Moe also took the time to discuss the upcoming budget. He was clear in that it would not be an austerity budget. Instead, the government would be making decisions to avoid that.
“Those decisions need to be made so that we can prevent true austerity,” he said. “True austerity is when the energy industry employee loses his job and hasn’t worked for 18 months.
“True austerity is a new grad, possibly out of this Cumberland College, that is having trouble finding work or can’t find work for six months or a year. That’s true austerity and that’s not what where we want to get.”
Moe said that while the budget will be a challenge, the province will come out stronger.
“We are committed to finding the balance between addressing the deficit that we have and ensuring that Saskatchewan people continue to have programs, continue to have services and the infrastructure you expect.”
Moe spoke on Feb. 11 at the Nipawin Chamber of Commerce’s President’s Dinner and ABEX Awards. He is the MLA for Rosthern Shellbrooke.