“Today is April 1st, and I wish I could say this is a bad April Fools’ joke, but it’s not.” 

Souris-Moose Mountain Conservative MP Dr. Robert Kitchen made the comment as the federal carbon levy, which applies in Saskatchewan, Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario, increased from $40 per tonne to $50 per tonne. The increase works out to roughly 2.2 cents per litre for gasoline, which is where many people will see the impact of the increase right away. 

“This carbon tax increase, which is really a 25 percent increase of the carbon tax, is going to add significantly to everyone’s pocketbook,” Kitchen added.  

There had been calls for a delay in the increase from across the country leading up to today. Federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault said the government was not going to back down from the increase, as carbon pricing is a cornerstone policy of the federal government’s climate action plan.  

The increase comes as the rate of inflation outpaces the increases in wages in the country. Kitchen also pointed to the impacts the increases will have on those in rural Canada, using his constituency as a point of reference. 

“They don’t understand what rural Canada is,” Kitchen said. “It’s all fine and dandy if you live in the big city and you have public transit there, you have light rail trains, etc. We don’t have that luxury in rural Canada – we don’t have the ability. If you’re travelling from say Maryfield to go see a doctor in Regina you don’t have that transit line there. Even if you were talking electric vehicles, you don’t have the charging stations.” 

The Conservative Party of Canada has been calling for the cancellation of the carbon levy, stating it doesn’t do anything to reduce carbon emissions, but instead, it just increases the prices for the average Canadian.  

The four provinces which are enrolled in the federal carbon levy system see rebates issued to residents. The rebates are intended to help families handle the additional costs of the carbon tax while putting an incentive on people to reduce their carbon footprint. 

This year, it is expected that Saskatchewan taxpayers could see payments up to $1,101. The rebate will be distributed throughout the year, with a double payment in July, and additional payments in October and January.  

--with files from The Canadian Press