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According to a recent Angus Reid poll, 45 per cent of Atlantic Canadians support a provincial carbon tax, with 55 per cent opposed.
N.L. business leaders want to know the details of the provincial government’s plans on carbon pricing. - 123RF Stock Photo

CFIB N.L. executive director says members need to know implications

Business owners and operators in Newfoundland and Labrador know carbon pricing will be coming into play locally — at least according to provincial and federal comments to date — in less than half a year. The provincial government is being asked now to offer further details.

“It’d be nice to have advance warning,” said Vaughan Hammond, executive director of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business in Newfoundland and Labrador, speaking with The Telegram Monday.

He mentioned a news report last week with comments from Premier Dwight Ball on the provincial carbon pricing plan. The premier said he wants to make sure the federal government is insisting on carbon pricing (also adding he has no reason to think otherwise), and accepts the plan being put forward by the province, before releasing further details.

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The plan has to be provided to the feds in September.

Hammond and others say businesses should be told now what’s being proposed.

“This thing is going to be implemented in January whether the province adopts it or the federal government adopts (its generic plan). Well, if the provincial government is coming up with a ‘Newfoundland and Labrador approach to this,’ then it would be nice for business owners to have advance notice in terms of what that means and what that means to them,” he said, saying it would be harder to respond meaningfully after the fact.

There have been references to the remaining four cents in 2016 gas tax. The “temporary” 16.5 cents-per-litre tax was first chopped by 8.5 cents back in June 2017, and then another four cents at the end of that year, with the Ball government committing to getting rid of the remainder as a carbon tax is introduced.

The federal government originally put forward a carbon pricing plan of $10 per tonne of carbon dioxide and equivalent emissions in 2018, rising each year to reach $50 per tonne in 2022, with $10 per tonne translated as roughly 2.3 cents extra on a litre of gasoline, 2.7 cents on a litre of diesel and 1.5 cents on a litre of propane.

There’s been reference to a two-tiered system coming for Newfoundland and Labrador, with carbon pricing applied differently to the province’s large, industrial emitters. 

“We’ve got to know where they’re going with this and we don’t right now,” said St. John’s Board of Trade CEO Nancy Healey.

“It’s going to impact all businesses, both big and small. So we need to know what the rules are going to be,” she said.

Healey said the board has been developing a position over the last month or so with the information that is available, and has a meeting request in for the Minister of Natural Resources. “So hopefully we will get some clarity when we have that meeting and we’ll be able to advance our concerns at that time,” she said.

As for transformation of industry to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, The Telegram has already reported the province has a Low Carbon Economy Fund on the books, to be cost-shared with the federal government, falling under the Department of Municipal Affairs and Environment. At last update, shortly after the release of Budget 2018, details were still being finalized. There is also a Low Carbon Economy Leadership program, under the Department of Transportation and Works, meant to aid in renovations.

Jean Marc Picard is the executive director of the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association and said his association has been asked if they would be interested in participating in at least one program in this province related to lowering carbon emissions.

And there is interest, he said, as trucking companies seek vehicle add-ons to reduce fuel usage, and enhance shop policies to reduce fuel consumption (including anti-idling policies).

ashley.fitzpatrick@thetelegram.com

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