Ontario farmers argue carbon tax has cost them thousands

Ontario farmers argue carbon tax has cost them thousands

Ontario farming and small business advocates joined Premier Doug Ford in criticizing the federal carbon tax on Tuesday, arguing it has cost them thousands of dollars out of pocket.

Andrew Spoelstra, president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, owns a farm in the southeast corner of Hamilton. He said that last fall, drying about 2,500 tonnes of grain cost him $4,500 in carbon pricing.

Another greenhouse in Hamilton paid about $3,837 in taxes on a $13,614 natural gas bill, Spoelstra added.

“We support a clean environment, but farmers just don’t have any alternatives,” he told reporters in East Gwillimbury.

“We have to use fuel and energy to grow the food that we all eat three times a day.”

Canada’s price on carbon pollution increased by $15 per tonne on April 1 as part of an annually scheduled hike.

The policy is meant to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The federal government does offer a rebate to consumers as part of their tax return. While for the average consumer this means they should come out even, advocates say that’s not the case for farmers and small businesses.

“We estimate 40 per cent of the burden of the carbon tax is coming from the business community, and the federal government has not rebated any of the money back that it had promised,” Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said

There is a specific tax credit for farmers impacted by the fuel charge, which offers a rebate of $1.86 per $1,000 in eligible farming expenses.

The federal government also exempted taxes on diesel and gasoline used to cultivate farmland. However, this exemption does not apply to natural gas and propane.

A bill is currently being considered in the House of Commons that would encompass these additional charges.

Ontario’s minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs called out Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for claiming that premiers were making “political hay” about the carbon pricing program.

“I’m fed up with the prime minister calling out our premier, Premier Ford, and the rest of us liars,” MPP Lisa Thompson said on Tuesday.

“According to Grain Farmers of Ontario, they’re going to see an additional $2.7 billion worth of expense associated with carbon tax. If you talk to vegetable growers by the year 2030, carbon tax is going to add on an additional $90,000 per acre in carbon tax. That’s not sustainable.”

Speaking in Toronto Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that provincial governments have the option of putting their own system into place, and that it is in fact the federal Conservatives who are blocking certain legislation that would help put money back into people’s pockets.

“All those premiers that are busy complaining about the price of pollution, but not putting forward a concrete alternative they think will be better for their communities, are just playing politics,” he said.

The premier has been vocal about criticizing the carbon tax for years, and even established a gas and fuel tax cut that would offset the extra charges drivers see at the pumps.

“This carbon tax doesn’t just hurt small businesses. It hurts consumers, families in Ontario and well beyond,” Ford added.

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