Manitoba politicians need to get off the bench and join everyone else in demanding the removal of the federal carbon tax from home heating bills.
Since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a carbon tax exemption for home heating oil, Manitoba politicians have been too quiet and its costing people on their heating bills.
Recently, Trudeau backpedalled on his carbon tax by exempting home heating oil for the next three years. This is great news for those Canadians who use furnace oil to heat their homes.
The only problem with that is that virtually none of those Canadians live in Manitoba. In total, about zero per cent of Manitobans use heating oil to heat their homes. Most Manitobans use natural gas. Natural gas still gets nailed with Trudeau’s carbon tax.
Natural gas is also the main fuel that most people use in Alberta and Saskatchewan to stay warm. So, shortly after Trudeau’s announcement, both of those provincial premiers lost no time demanding the exemption be extended to natural gas and propane to provide winter relief to Albertans and Saskatchewanians.
“I am frankly disturbed that same break will not be extended to Albertans,” said Alberta Premier Danielle Smith.
“It doesn’t do much for Saskatchewan,” said Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe. “The carbon tax is still being fully applied to natural gas and over 90 per cent of Saskatchewan households are heated with natural gas.”
Moe also announced if the exemption isn’t extended to natural gas, that SaskEnergy will stop sending carbon tax revenues from home heating to Ottawa.
The provincial NDP in Alberta and Saskatchewan also both support the extension of the relief.
“Instead of picking and choosing who gets relief based on PM Trudeau’s election map, we’re calling on the federal government to extend relief to all Canadian families,” said Saskatchewan NDP leader Carla Beck.
But what have Manitobans heard from their government? Crickets would be more forceful.
All that Manitoba Finance Minister Adrien Sala has said about dealing with Ottawa is that “we want to start from a position of collaboration and co-operation.”
That’s not good enough when the temperature is plummeting and people are struggling to pay their heating bills now.
What about local NDP MPs?
Now is their chance to get the carbon tax exemption extended to natural gas and other forms of home heating. The federal Conservatives plan to table a motion on Monday that would extend the carbon tax pause to all home heating. Manitoba NDP MPs need to vote for it.
First, Premier Wab Kinew needs to push his federal counterparts in the right direction. Then NDP MPs Nikki Ashton, Daniel Blaikie and Leah Gazan all need to vote for the motion to make life more affordable.
There is no time to waste because heating bills are only going higher.
This year the carbon tax costs Manitobans 12 cents per cubic metre of natural gas. Next year the federal government jacks it up to 15 cents per cubic metre. By 2030, the feds plan to increase it all the way up to 32 cents per cubic metre.
The average home uses about 2,385 cubic metres of natural gas per year. That will cost that household about $300 this year in carbon tax. If the federal carbon tax was removed from natural gas, a household would save more than $1,000 in heating costs over the next three years.
In total, the federal carbon tax will cost Manitobans about $386 this year, according to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, and that’s after accounting for rebates.
Winter is here and heating bills are starting to rise, the time to stand up for Manitobans is now.
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