Premier Dwight Ball says if Ontario gets out of the federal carbon pricing plan, Newfoundland and Labrador will try to get out, too.
The province has until Sept. 1 to deliver its plan for carbon pricing to the federal government. From there, Ottawa and the province will have until November to come to an agreement on the final plan, with a Jan. 1 start date for the new program.
Earlier this month, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced a court challenge of the federal carbon pricing plan with the intention of allowing Ontario to opt out of the federally mandated plan.
While there’s skepticism on whether Ford’s challenge will work, Premier Ball says if Ontario manages to get out, he’ll want out, too.
“We know our plan is less impactful on residents than the federal carbon tax would be. We would never put our province in a situation where we’re not able to compete with other jurisdictions,” Ball said Wednesday.
“You wouldn’t see Ontario without one, and us with one. We’ll be making that part of our plan as well.”
As for what’s in the carbon plan for Newfoundland and Labrador, Ball says he’ll wait until Ottawa has a chance to look at the plan before releasing it publicly. That means it’ll be November before residents and business owners know what carbon pricing will look like.
But he did give a hint.
“The closest model that we could compare ours to would be more around the Alberta model,” said Ball.
“They’re closer to where we are, given we want to grow our offshore and the potential that a strict carbon tax would have on industry and restrict job creation.”
So, what does the Alberta model look like?
Currently, Alberta has a $30 per tonne price on carbon emissions from heating and transport. There’s also a gasoline tax of 6.73 cents per litre, with 8 cents per litre on diesel. Propane sees a tax of 4.62 cents per litre.
This province already sees a total of 20.5 cents per litre of provincial tax on gasoline, 21.5 cents for diesel, and seven cents for propane.
The Alberta plan, brought forward in 2017 by NDP Premier Rachel Notley, also sees rebates for some consumers.
“If you took the federal plan, that would actually restrict economic growth in our province.” — Premier Dwight Ball
A low- to middle-income couple in Alberta will see a rebate of approximately $540 a year. The total rebate varies depending on income and usage.
Ball says any money generated from the carbon pricing plan will stay in the province. He says a federally imposed carbon pricing plan would be much harsher for consumers than what the provincial government is working on.
“We need to put in a mechanism that allows for economic growth rather than just putting a provincial threshold or limit on what our carbon emissions would be,” said Ball.
“If you took the federal plan, that would actually restrict economic growth in our province.”
The provincial Progressive Conservative party wants nothing to do with a carbon pricing plan for the province.
In a news release issued Thursday, PC environment critic Barry Petten calls a carbon tax a “tax-grab” that he worries will negatively affect jobs in the province.
“Dwight Ball is blindly supporting a tax without being honest and transparent with the people of Newfoundland and Labrador on what impacts, if any, it will have on addressing the real issues of climate change,” Petten stated in the release.
“Instead, Dwight Ball and his federal counterparts are imposing a tax-grab that will take more money away from hard-working Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, drive up the cost of goods, and kill jobs in our economy. The Liberals have an obligation to do better for the people of our province.”