OTTAWA — Indoor-grown mushrooms are saddled with the federal carbon tax, but indoor-grown vegetables, flowers and even cannabis get an 80% break from the fickle federal levy.
Amid this unequal treatment, Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre recently highlighted the carbon-tax burden carried by Carleton Mushroom Farms, a major Eastern Ontario producer. The company, which “supplies the Nation’s Capital with the mushrooms we eat,” expected a $14,275 carbon-tax charge on its January natural gas bill, Poilievre said in the House of Commons Feb. 7.
Mushroom farming requires artificial heat and humidification year round, so there’s no respite from the tax in the summer, either. The charge was still $9,000 last July, Poilievre reported.
The local farm’s plight illustrated the Conservative leader’s point that “the carbon tax is actually a tax on the food we eat … because when we tax our farmers who produce the food and tax the truckers who deliver the food, we tax the food itself.”
Private member’s bill C-234, currently working its way through the legislative process, would redress the situation by eliminating the tax on fuel for drying grain and heating agricultural structures. If passed, the change would also equalize the treatment of mushroom facilities with those others that currently enjoy an 80% discount on the tax: greenhouses, indoor hydroponic outfits and pot-growing facilities. All would be free of the carbon tax for at least the next eight years.
The Canada Revenue Agency has justified the current difference on the grounds that mushroom facilities don’t have glass roofs and “won’t budge” on the matter, according to Carleton Mushroom Farms co-owner Mike Medeiros. No one has been able to explain to him why cannabis or hydroponic facilities still get the discount when they generally don’t meet that definition, either.
Poilievre drew attention to the farm’s predicament while introducing a parliamentary motion that called on the Trudeau government to immediately drop the carbon tax. The motion was defeated Feb. 8 as the official opposition continued a campaign to “keep the heat on, take the tax off.”