Anger in Canada’s pork industry over federal carbon tax

Canada pork
Photo: Canva

The pork association for Canada’s province of Ontario is calling on the federal government to eliminate its carbon tax on fuels such as propane and natural gas used to heat swine barns. Ontario Pork, the voice of the province’s 997 pork farmers, requested the exemption on November 6.

Ontario Pork pointed out that there are no viable alternatives to fossil fuels in swine farming, and that the exemption is “essential in lightening the financial burden” farmers are experiencing at a time of other very high input costs. Because one cannot farm pigs without barn heating, “the carbon tax has added financial strain,” said Ontario Pork, “increasing the cost of production without reducing emissions.”

The carbon tax, it added, is also negatively affecting the competitiveness of the pork sector in domestic and international markets. “Canadian farmers face hurdles that producers in other jurisdictions do not,” the group observed.

Swine farmers in Canada are already exempt, as are other producers, from having to pay a tax on the emissions they create from burning natural gas or propane for barn heating, drying grain and preparing feed. That became law in March 2023.

Carbon tax breakdown

The Canadian federal carbon tax system has a regulatory charge on fossil fuels and a regulatory system for large industry. That tax has been highly controversial since it was introduced several years ago and has steadily increased at regular intervals.

With the return of Canadian winter, anger about the tax has been strong, particularly in Canada’s Eastern Maritime provinces, over the latest tax increase. Oil is commonly used there to heat homes, and it’s already the most expensive home heating method. In response, Liberal prime minister Trudeau recently gave the Canadians living there a carbon tax exemption on home heating oil. This move, in turn, incited wrath in all other parts of the country where the tax still applies to natural gas and propane.

The premier of the province of Saskatchewan, Scott Moe has taken drastic action, directing the provincial-owned energy utility to stop collecting the tax on natural gas starting January 1, 2024. This is against federal law but Moe has passed a countermanding provincial law. He also noted on X (formerly Twitter) that the exemption in the Maritimes was about securing votes, and called Trudeau’s government “the most divisive… Canada has ever had.”

Premiers of all provinces but Quebec met on November 6, calling for equitable application of the carbon tax across the country. That same day, the federal opposition party put forward a motion in the House of Commons to that effect, but the parties in power (the Liberals & NDP) along with the Quebec-based Bloq party, defeated it.

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Treena Hein Correspondent
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