Ont. farmers react to carbon tax increase

Ont. farmers react to carbon tax increase
Apr 02, 2024

The tax increased by $15 per tonne on April 1

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Canadians are coming to grips with an increase to the national carbon tax.

On April 1, the price on pollution increased by $15 per tonne from $65 to $80 per tonne. By 2030, it’s expected the carbon tax will cost $170 per tonne.

Farmers like Ethan Wallace, a dairy and grain farmer from Huron County, are concerned about what the increased costs will mean to their operations.

“This tax is a direct draw on producers’ income,” he told Farms.com. “It’s a consumption tax that’s meant to change our behaviour and move us away from fossil fuels. But in agriculture there’s no alternative. I can’t heat my barn or dry my grain or fuel my tractors with anything except fossil fuels.”

For clarification, Canadian farmers are already exempt from paying the carbon tax on gasoline and diesel used in farm vehicles.

In Ontario, the price of gas and diesel increased by about 3.3 cents and 4 cents per litre, respectively on April 1.

And the carbon tax on natural gas went up to 15.25 cents per cubic metre.

These increases and their potential impact on Canadian farms is a perfect example of why Bill C-234 needs to pass, Wallace said.

The bill, which would remove the carbon tax from grain drying and barn heating, remains in parliamentary gridlock.

Passing that bill would provide farmers with the relief they need to continue feeding the world and running a successful business.

“Grain farmers can’t not dry their grain, or it becomes and unmarketable product,” he said. “Chicken farmers must heat their barns, or the birds will die. Farmers produce food and we shouldn’t be punished for this when no other options are available for us.”

Farmers, however, must pay the carbon tax on the deliveries of those fuels.

“I’m sure when we have any delivery, whether it’s diesel or fertilizer, we’ll see an increase in those costs,” said Leo Guillbeault, a grain farmer from Essex County who paid about $12,000 in carbon taxes in 2023.

Like Wallace, Guillbeault thinks Bill C-234 needs royal assent.

This recent increase may spur the industry to reignite the calls for its passage, he said.

Guillbeault is also frustrated with how the federal government promotes the carbon tax and its effectiveness on the environment.

“My question to the federal government is where is all this money going? You’re collecting all this money, but what it is being spent on? If the biggest emitters are just buying off tax credits, it’s not really helping the environment if they’re polluting at the same levels. It would be an easier pill to swallow if they could show us how the money from the carbon tax is specifically benefitting Canadians.”

The Trudeau government implemented the carbon tax in 2019.

At that time, Canada emitted 724 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, Environment and Climate Change Canada data says.

In 2020, that level dropped to 659 megatonnes. But in 2021 it increased to 670 megatonnes.

In 2021, Canada’s ag sector was the 5th largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. Ag accounted for about 10 per cent of Canada’s total, or about 69 megatonnes of carbon emitted.

That year, the oil and gas sector was the country’s largest emitter. The industry accounted for about 28 per cent of Canada’s total, or about 189 megatonnes of carbon emitted.

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