Back on Monday, around 100 people in the Kindersley area stood up against the federal carbon tax and it's 23 per cent increase.  Protests against the April 1 carbon tax increase began back on Monday, and even carried on throughout the week in some places.

With it being no secret that the Government of Saskatchewan opposes the carbon tax, Kindersley MLA Ken Francis commented on the community's response back on Monday.

Ken Francis (1)_0.jpg Kindersley's MLA talked about the recently conducted carbon tax protest in Kindersley, and what the latest increase means for the constituency and beyond (File Photo)

"It's nice to see that the public is engaged, and willing to push back, visibly and vocally against the carbon tax," began Francis. "You will likely recall that Saskatchewan was the first jurisdiction to really push back on it, and so it is nice to see the public get behind what the province has been doing for several years."

The increase in carbon pricing from $65, to $80 per tonne will no doubt raise costs for people and businesses. Increases to the cost-of-living are one of the biggest issues facing people everywhere, including locally in the constituency of Kindersley. 

"A further pressure on the cost-of-living. It's no secret this tax is expensive, and it really doesn't provide anything back to the public in general. It was brought in under the guise of an environmental tax to help with climate change, and really all it has ended up being is pulling money from one part of the country, and dispersing it to another, and that's kind getting flushed out now,"

Francis talked about the Government's efforts over the years to push-back on the price-on-pollution.

"It's an ineffective tax, and we need to push back on it. Our provincial government has been pushing back on it since it was first brought in," reminded Francis. "We took it to the Supreme Court, of course lost, but it's never been something we thought was effective, or really useful at all. So it's nice to see the growing sentiment across the country that citizens, and other governments besides their own are pushing back on it."

Saskatchewan's government has tried their best over the years to debate the tax. 2024 will be no different, though Francis views the "fight" in a different way.

"It's one of those things that your not really fighting it. We fought it as far as we could to the Supreme Court and lost. But when the federal government carved out heating oil in Atlantic Canada, that gave us the window to prove that it wasn't fair, and that it wasn't being evenly distributed across the country," said Francis, explaining their decision to "carve out" the tax on SaskEnergy and SaskPower residential heating.

"Because it wasn't fair. They were treating one part of the country differently than another. That opened the window for us to push-back more than our court challenge, and I think that was pretty effective in raising sentiment across the country. There's now seven premiers out of the group that are opposing it. I think Saskatchewan really was the lead on it, way back under the Wall government, and we are continuing to lead on pushing back."

Francis says the carbon tax is just one policy they have their eyes on when it comes to the cost-of-living crisis.

"The carbon tax is really one part of the federal policy framework that is problematic. Clean fuel standards and clean electricity standards are basically the same thing as the carbon tax, it's just creating more cost to the province, more cost to the taxpayer in Saskatchewan. It's a regulatory stacking that's really starting to mount up, and the cost-of-living, affordability issues we are having right now, you can attribute a lot of that to our federal policies. They are making it tough on us."

What sticks out to Francis the most from Saskatchewan's perspective, is the sheer amount of hours people spend on highways just to make their living. It's something he knows people in the constituency can relate to. 

"Specifically to Kindersley, is that we drive so much for just day-to-day things. Whether it's hockey, baseball, dance, or medical appointments; we are on the road far more in rural Saskatchewan than anywhere else. Especially Kindersley, we are sparsely populated, we drive an hour basically just to do routine, day-to-day things. It does affect us disproportionally when fuel tax, or anything that goes onto our fuel charge, it's more expensive for us."

Saskatchewan does currently have the provincial gas tax applied to it's price at the pumps. It's something the opposition NDP has called on numerous times to be lifted, but Francis was quick to point out how the price on fuel goes directly back into Saskatchewan's roads.

"We haven't reduced our fuel tax, but we put (that money) back into roads, which had been neglected for years and years under the NDP," said Francis. "In the last 15, 16 years we have been picking away at that infrastructure deficit. Pausing our fuel tax would just cause pain further down the road,"

Francis tabled the provinces price on gas in comparison to the federal tax that seemingly affects everything.

"All the money we pull-in for revenue goes to services, roads, schools, and everything else in a provincial budget." outlined Francis. "The carbon tax goes to nothing. All it does is takes away from one group of people who are heating their businesses or homes, and the rebates are given to people who can't afford it. How the (federal government is) trying to spin this into something good, I really don't understand it. It's really just taking away from one part of society, and giving it to another, and that's not much of a climate policy."

The standard $15 increase in 2025 would bring carbon pricing from $80, to $95 per tonne. If the schedule stays to 2030, the minimum carbon pollution price in Canada would be $170 per tonne of carbon emissions.