COVID-19 Updates: Taking steps to return to normal.
A private member’s bill introduced by Ontario MP Philip Lawrence could help fix some of the problems caused by the federal government’s one-size-fits-all carbon tax. But Parliament needs to pass it before the next election or the opportunity to help ease the burden on our farmers may be lost for years.
Food is not a luxury, and to produce it, grain farmers must dry their crops – otherwise, millions of tonnes of food Alberta produces each year will rot. This requires, simply, a lot of heat. There are no alternatives to our current grain drying practices, and if there were, our farmers and processors would already be adopting them to avoid the actual market costs of fuel.
By correcting a flaw in the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act and extending the exemption for qualifying farming fuel to marketable natural gas and propane, this bill will provide critical relief for our agriculture sector. But it’s important that it become law before the end of the current growing season and before the next federal election.
As well, with grocery prices already increasing, this is not the time to be adding extra costs on food production. While farmers are the first hit by this tax, low-income earners who spend a disproportionately large part of their incomes just buying what they need to eat will also be hurt.
The cost of this tax is significant, and it will lead to failing farms, more debt, fewer competitive exports, and higher costs for consumers. Parliament must look beyond ideology and see the actual impact this policy will have on farmers and consumers.
With a possible election looming and harvest season fast approaching, I encourage all Alberta MPs and Senators to support Bill C-206 and move it through Parliament as soon as possible.
Devin Dreeshen served as Minister of Agriculture and Forestry from April 30, 2019 to November 5, 2021.