New Brunswick was one of many provinces that wanted to discuss the impact of Canada’s carbon tax during a meeting of provincial and territorial finance ministers last week.
A virtual meeting was convened Friday by federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland to discuss Alberta’s proposed withdrawal from the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) in favour of a provincial plan.
While the main agenda item was to discuss thoughts behind the proposed Alberta Pension Plan, provinces also brought forward a discussion about the federal carbon tax and its impact.
But according to Saskatchewan Finance Minister Donna Harpauer, Freeland seemed unwilling to discuss the issue.
“I am extremely disappointed with the complete disregard from Minister Freeland to speak about the carbon tax crisis,” she said in a statement.
New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta then issued a joint statement asking for an end to the tax.
“We urge the federal government to eliminate the carbon tax to ensure fairness and ease financial pressure on Canadians,” the statement said.
Following Friday’s meeting, Freeland told reporters the special meeting was meant to discuss the CPP.
“Ministers came to attend the meeting specifically because of that invitation to discuss that subject,” she said.
“I absolutely recognize that there are a lot of different issues that provinces and territories are interested in.”
Finance Minister Ernie Steeves said the tax, which took effect in New Brunswick in July, is creating economic hardship.
“The prime minister has himself admitted that the carbon tax is hurting Canadians,“ he said.
His comments come after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Ottawa will not offer carve-outs to the carbon pricing policy beyond the plan to pause the tax on home heating oil.
“This is designed to phase out home heating oil, the way we made a decision to phase out coal,” Trudeau told reporters last week.
“This is specifically about ending the use of home heating oil, which is more polluting, more expensive, and impacts low-income Canadians to a greater degree.”
Prior to Tuesday’s comments, Trudeau announced a temporary break for households that use home heating oil, a move that primarily will assist Atlantic Canadians.
He also laid out plans to double the pollution price rebate rural top-up rate, and roll out new incentives to make it more affordable for those using heating oil to transition to heat pumps.
“While pausing the tax on home heating oil is a good start, we need relief for everyone, across all types of home heating costs,” said Steeves.
Trudeau’s announcement has led to more debate in the House of Commons, notably from Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre.
“Apparently we’re going to have different tax rates in different constituencies depending on how people vote,” he said.
“[Trudeau] said that the tax would make people better off — he’s now admitted that that’s not true.”
Poilievre said the prime minister is dividing Canadians based on where they live and called on Trudeau to axe the tax altogether.
New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs has also made similar remarks, saying eliminating the tax would bring “desperately needed relief” to Canadians.
“Pausing the tax on home heating oil isn’t enough,” he said in a post on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.
“All Canadians need relief.”