ON: Ontario Minister of Agriculture’s roundtable on Federal Carbon Tax – March 21

On March 21, 2019, Ontario Premier Doug Ford joined Minister of Agriculture and Food Ernie Hardeman and Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks Rod Phillips for a roundtable discussion on the impact of the federal carbon tax on Ontario’s agri-food industry. They were joined by 25 sectoral representatives at an Oxford county farm in Woodstock.
Premier Ford vowed that the Ontario government will do everything it can to fight the carbon tax, which he stated would increase the cost of everything in the province.
Minister Phillips said that Ontario has achieved a 22 per cent reduction in GHGs to date and will reach the 30 per cent target without cap and trade and carbon tax requirements.
The CPA and member company Dowler-Karn were joined by farm groups, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA), Christian Farmers Federation, producer groups, greenhouse growers, hatcheries, sheep and pork producers. CPA Board Chair Dan Kelly and Jason Cooper, both of Dowler-Karn, along with CPA Director of Government Relations for Ontario Marcelline Riddell, highlighted the administrative and policy limitations of the tax as well as the significant negative impact it will have on the propane industry and its ability to serve its agri-business clients.
The Premier highlighted the government’s job creation record, the “poison pills” contained in the former government’s energy contracts, skills shortages, red tape reduction measures, expansion of natural gas and broadband internet as government priorities. Ford also spoke of the importance of mental health issues in rural communities and the need to defeat the federal government to ensure the carbon tax is removed.
Kelly reiterated the propane industry’s concern about propane not being exempt from the tax, despite its green nature. Cooper spoke about how poorly conceived the tax is and the impact on certain sectors and elements. Issues include how to apply the tax to propane cylinders and how farmers and suppliers can’t pass the increased cost of goods on to customers as contract prices have been previously set. Riddell asked the government to consider the cost of natural gas expansion projects on other existing fuel providers, like propane.
The OFA’s Keith Currie said the carbon tax pits farmers against one another as some will be paying less, depending on how their operations are run. The OFA says the agriculture industry employees directly or indirectly, over 800,000 jobs in Ontario.
This was a productive meeting and offered an opportunity to network and foster alliances with many propane customers and their representative associations, many of whom can add significant viewpoints to this discussion as well as offer allegiances on other issues of mutual interest such as seasonal load restrictions.