Farmers Forum staff
OTTAWA — The federal carbon tax jumped another 30% in April, the latest annual hike in the reputed climate-correcting levy imposed by the Trudeau government. First introduced on April Fool’s Day 2019 at $20 per tonne of carbon, the rate has now hit $65 — up from $50 last year.
For buyers of natural gas, which includes for barn heating and grain drying, that translates into a carbon tax burden of 12.4 cents per cubic metre — up from 9.79 cents last year. The small business pre-tax price of natural gas last month (including all itemized charges except taxes) was 25.2 cents per cubic-metre in Eastern Ontario, unless your are in Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Counties. In the tri-county you would have paid Enbridge 36.4 cents.
The cost was already at eye-popping levels for grain-drying operations vital to Ontario agriculture. Last November at Ganaraska Grain in Port Hope, the carbon tax added $20,722 to the company’s natural gas bill, which reached $89,407 that month alone. The tax was equivalent to 35 % of what supplier Enbridge charged for the actual product and delivery of 212,000 cubic metres used by Ganaraska Grain between Nov. 2 and Dec. 1, 2022. The total bill included $10,286 in HST applied on top of the carbon tax. This means that the carbon tax was taxed.
But with Trudeau’s latest carbon-tax hike, that same quantity of gas will cost Ganaraska Grain an additional $6,245 (before HST).
Producer groups are anxious to see a reprieve before corn-drying revs up this fall. Private member’s bill C-234 exempting grain-drying and barn-heating from the carbon-tax passed through the House of Commons in March and now awaits Senate approval.
Without that exemption, the carbon tax charged on natural gas used in agriculture will continue to step up annually, to more than 15 cents in 2024 and 32.4 cents in 2030. It’s the same situation for propane, though the figures are slightly different because that fuel is sold by the litre.
Unfortunately for Ganaraska Grain, bill C-234 extends the carbon-tax exemption to farm-based grain-drying operators exclusively — not commercial ones like Ganaraska. Senator Rob Black, a supporter of the bill, acknowledged this shortcoming during a recent Senate debate, and the office of federal Conservative agriculture critic MP John Barlow (CON – Foothills) confirmed the limitation to Farmers Forum. The bill wouldn’t have received the support of the NDP and Bloc Quebecois in the Commons if commercial grain-drying operations were included, explained Mark Choi, a policy advisor to the Alberta MP. Choi pointed out that the Conservatives intend to cancel the carbon tax entirely if elected.