Skip to main content

'Making life less affordable': Smith among premiers pushing for halt of carbon tax

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith joined together with leaders from across the country on Monday as they called for Ottawa's carbon pricing measures to be more fair.

Almost all of Canada's premiers and territorial leaders were in Halifax for a two-day meeting that focused on health care and the effect of carbon pricing measures on the rising cost of living.

On Monday, following the meeting, premiers from across Canada, except Quebec, released a statement calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to ensure that federal policies, like carbon pricing, are delivered in an equitable way.

"One immediate action that we discussed as premiers that can be taken to address the affordability challenges, that is, to ensure that all Canadians are treated fairly by the federal government when it comes to the federal carbon tax and home heating," said Council of the Federation, Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston.

"All this is doing is just causing unfairness and making life less affordable, and really harming our most vulnerable as we get into the winter season," Alberta Premier Danielle Smith said. "If this is truly a global problem, then we need global thinking."

During the same news conference, B.C. premier David Eby shared his enthusiasm for a heat pump program being used in Atlantic Canada, and his hope for it to make its way to B.C.

Smith, however, didn’t share that same enthusiasm for the program.

"In our province, they don't work particularly well below - 25 C. You can't get insurance without having a backup to your heat pump," Smith said. "We believe very strongly that natural gas should be treated as a cleaner fuel."

Last week, Trudeau announced his government would pause for three years the carbon price on home heating oil to make it easier for users of that fuel to switch to electric heat pumps.

But the move immediately drew criticism from premiers in Western Canada, where few residents and businesses use home heating oil.

The House of Commons is expected to vote Monday on a Conservative motion calling for a pricing pause on all home heating fuels. 

It will be supported by the federal NDP, and comes after tax breaks were announced for people living in Atlantic Canada who use heating oil.

The premiers have come to the realization they will accomplish more together, according to Mount Royal University political scientist Lori Williams.

“The provinces have recognized that a united front on any issue puts more pressure on the federal government,” she said.

Much of the talk leading up the meeting was regarding the Alberta’s proposal to break away from the Canada Pension Plan, but in the end, not much was made of it. The premiers coming together, could play a part in that.

“[New Brunswick Premier] Blaine Higgs is saying that he thinks this is a signal from Alberta that it is not being treated fairly,” said Williams. “He’s trying to promote the concern for unfairness sort of as a trade off for Alberta staying in the Canada Pension Plan.”


Much of the discussion at the two-day meeting in Halifax was focused on the shortage of nurses and doctors across Canada, and how to fill the gap.

"I suspect what you'll see is the premiers working very diligently and collaboratively to try to recruit from abroad, whether it's Philippines or another nation," Smith said.

According to Smith, Alberta would work on foreign credentials recognition and having health-care workers accredited through the country, allowing them to move seamlessly between jurisdictions

Rural health care was also discussed, as premiers looked at training medical professionals in rural communities to "so they stay in rural communities."

Chair of the meeting, Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston and the premiers are calling on Trudeau to hold a First Ministers meeting in person, something they said has not happened since December 2018.

With files from The Canadian Press Top Stories

Stay Connected