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Saskatchewan stops collecting carbon tax

Michael Bell The Canadian Press The minister responsible for SaskEnergy, Dustin Duncan, said the deadline to pay the tax to the federal government is the last day of February.

The Saskatchewan government says its natural gas utility will stop collecting the carbon tax from residential customers starting Monday.

The move comes after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau exempted those who use home heating oil from paying the tax, primarily benefiting residents of the Atlantic provinces.

Saskatchewan requested an exemption for all other forms of heating, but Ottawa rejected the request. In response, the province said it would stop collecting these fees in early 2024.

The minister responsible for SaskEnergy, Dustin Duncan, said the deadline to pay the tax to the federal government is the last day of February.

If SaskEnergy does not remit this amount, it would violate federal law and executives could face fines or prison time.

Saskatchewan, however, passed legislation to protect executives from legal consequences, placing this burden on the province.

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Mr. Duncan said in December that SaskEnergy had asked the federal government to remove it as a registered natural gas distributor.

He said the company wanted Ottawa to designate the province as distributor instead.

“The sooner we get clarity from the federal government, whether or not they recognize what the bill says and agree to this change in registration, I think that will dictate the next steps for us to make a decision in January (not to remit the tax),” Mr. Duncan said.

The Canadian Press asked the Canada Revenue Agency if it had delisted SaskEnergy.

The agency said in a statement that the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act prevents it from discussing the details of specific cases.

SaskEnergy declined interviews on the issue and redirected media inquiries to the provincial government.

Mr. Trudeau said he expects all provinces to follow the law. He also said that fuel oil costs much more than natural gas.

Ottawa also said the carbon pricing system provides rebates, putting more money back in the pockets of most Canadians, and that the revenue is returned to the provinces where the charges are collected .

Saskatchewan argued that the average resident can expect to save $400 next year by not paying the tax.

Also starting this month, Saskatchewan will no longer collect a carbon tax from those who use electricity to heat their homes.

However, the province does not anticipate legal consequences for this decision because it controls the carbon tax that applies to its electric utility, SaskPower.

Mr. Duncan said SaskPower would deposit what customers paid for these levies into an investment fund.

He said the move would cost SaskPower more than $3 million this year.

“The reason we decided to order SaskPower to keep all of these carbon tax payments is because we don't want to risk the federal government stepping in and saying 'you do not respect our agreement and, therefore, you take back all of these funds, “said Mr. Duncan.

The Saskatchewan Party government has argued that it plans to use money from the fund for emissions-free electricity projects, including a possible small modular nuclear reactor.

Carbon taxes imposed on other large emitters must be deposited into a separate technology fund for projects that reduce, sequester and capture emissions.

Saskatchewan took Ottawa to court over the 2021 carbon tax, but the province lost its challenge when the Supreme Court ruled it was constitutional.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116