An Act to amend the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act

Sponsor

Ben Lobb  Conservative

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)

Status

In committee (House), as of May 18, 2022

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-234.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

May 18, 2022 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-234, An Act to amend the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing ActPrivate Members' Business

May 18th, 2022 / 3:20 p.m.
See context

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Chris d'Entremont

It being 3:21 p.m., pursuant to an order made on Thursday, November 25, 2021, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-234 under Private Members' Business.

The House resumed from May 11 consideration of the motion that Bill C-234, An Act to amend the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing ActPrivate Members' Business

May 11th, 2022 / 6:10 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Dave Epp Conservative Chatham-Kent—Leamington, ON

Madam Speaker, it is always a privilege to rise in the chamber and speak on behalf of the residents of Chatham-Kent—Leamington and, indeed, on behalf of agriculture across Canada.

I am also pleased to speak to my colleague from Huron—Bruce's private member's bill, Bill C-234, which affects so many constituents, including our own family farm.

The bill seeks to amend the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act by adding natural gas and propane to the list of qualifying farm fuels, and that is for the purposes of both grain drying and heating and cooling farm buildings.

I did have the opportunity to speak to this bill's predecessor, Bill C-206, in the previous Parliament where it was passed, only to die in the other place when the Prime Minister called the unnecessary election.

Our farmers are the first environmentalists and our farmers are great competitors. They can hold their own against anyone, but not with one arm tied behind their back. They cannot continue to be first-rate environmentalists when they are hamstrung by policies that their competitors do not face.

Before getting into the specifics of this bill, I wish to remark on four different framing points that will outline where I am going.

One, as I just stated, as individuals, farmers are environmentalists by nature and by necessity. The drive to leave the land in a better condition than when they found it is innate to every farmer that I know. Farmers are environmentalists by necessity. It is the condition of their land, the condition of their flocks and of their herd that supplies the farm family with a return on their labour, on their investments and on their inputs, so it is in their own self-interest to leave the vehicle of their own prosperity in better condition for the next generation.

Two, collectively, agriculture has a strong record of reducing its environmental footprint, be it through the adoption of low till or no till; be it through the refinement of working through nutrients, such as through the lens of the 4Rs, putting the right nutrient at the right place at the right time with the right amount; be it through more intensive use of cover cropping or rotational grazing. Farmers have largely done all of this without regulation and without additional taxation or without an additional government-imposed price signal. I will come back to that point in a moment.

Three, agriculture has a strong record of innovation, of adopting new technologies, such as the use of GPS technology on the farm, the use of variable rate technology in seeding and in crop protection products, robotics in our dairy sector, and climate controls and automation in our greenhouse sector. Believe me, as soon as a viable commercial alternative to fossil fuels is available in rural Canada, farmers will adopt it and quickly, without the stick or a price signal embedded in a tax. That leads me to my final framing point.

Four, by and large, farmers are price takers. They cannot effectively pass along cost-input increases to their buyers.

Let these four points set the stage for my remarks on Bill C-234. When we initially debated its predecessor, Bill C-206, the harvest from hell in 2019 had just occurred in western Canada. That really demonstrated the need for this carbon tax exemption. It was a particularly wet fall where, with frost and rainfall, et cetera, interrupting the harvest, the use of natural gas and propane was required to put the grain into a storable condition.

Farming in Ontario and in eastern Canada requires the use of grain dryers each and every year, particularly for grain corn, but also for soybeans, wheat, canola, oats, et cetera.

When we studied Bill C-206 in the previous Parliament at committee, we did look at alternatives to fossil fuels. In many parts of our economy, electrification is a potential alternative, but given the obvious nature of agriculture being situated in rural Canada and the lack of our grid capacity, this is simply a non-starter.

We also looked at a second option, and that was the use of crop residues as a fuel source. That means gathering them after harvest and then burning them in heaters. While there are some prototypes being trialed, they are simply not available at scale.

Even more problematic with this approach, crop residues are incorporated into the soil or are left on the surface, and they become organic matter for our soils. They sequester carbon and they increase soil organic matter levels, which help both with crop production and our climate goals.

The voluntary adoption of reduced or eliminated tillage provided improvements in soil moisture retention, a reduction of soil erosion and, of course, an increase in carbon sequestration, all without the imposition of a tax. This is something that was not acknowledged in the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act.

It does not make sense to apply a tax to reverse the environmental improvements that the farmers put in place voluntarily. However, the question remains, does it make any sense at all to apply such a tax on fossil fuels to increase the agricultural community's focus on reducing the use of fossil fuels? The answer to that is no, for several reasons.

There simply are not commercially viable, scalable alternatives to using natural gas and propane available today, but because there are not viable alternatives, the demand for fuel tends to remain unaffected by price. That makes these additional fuel charges simply an additional tax and an inefficient policy to lower carbon emissions. This very fact was confirmed by the Parliamentary Budget Officer.

The recent budget, which has been alluded to in other speeches here this evening, did put some more funds into the agricultural clean technology fund to upgrade present drying systems to a higher efficiency, but these funds only have the potential to update 500 of the 50,000 grain dryers across Canada. That is 1% of them.

Also, as opposed to granting an exemption from paying the carbon tax, they have proposed in Bill C-8 a rebate program to maintain, in their words, a “price signal” to the farm community to change their ways even though there are no viable alternatives.

I explored with several of my constituents the impact of these two approaches. My riding is a large rectangle and in the northeastern corner, Ron and Francine Verhelle farm with their family. This past year, they needed 89,670 litres of propane to dry their almost 7,000 tonnes of corn. They paid over $5,550 in carbon tax. If the 2022 conditions on their farm are the same, they are anticipating that cost to go up to almost $7,000 this year. Under the Liberal plan, the eligible farm costs on their farm would have to be over $3.2 million using the planned $1.73 per thousand in eligible farm expenses in order for that rebate to recoup their carbon tax cost. Farm input costs are definitely skyrocketing, but fortunately they will not be that high or no farmer will be in business this coming year.

Paul Tiessen and his family farm just down the road from my home farm. They are a third generation grain farm and their total natural gas bill for 2021 to dry 107,000 bushels, or just over 2,900 tonnes, of corn this past year was $10,010, of which almost $2,500 was a carbon tax. Under the Liberal proposal that would have been in place for 2021 rebating back $1.47 per thousand in expenses, they would only get a fraction of their carbon tax cost returns from this past crop.

My final point is simply to call for basic fairness in the marketplace. Our Canadian grain competes directly with American grain. It is priced off of the Chicago Board of Trade. No customer of grain will pay more for Canadian grain because it incurs a carbon tax, not if they can source it from the Americans.

The Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act did exempt gasoline and diesel fuel on the farm for this very reason and Bill C-234 is looking to correct the oversight regarding natural gas and propane for grain drying and barn heating and cooling.

Surely if the government cannot control its spending ways, it does not have to use farmers' bank accounts as a cashflow mechanism to finance its own spending. Making farmers pay this carbon tax in the fall and then having them file their taxes the following spring to apply for a rebate, all that does is return a portion of their costs plus now incurring all the administrative costs on the farm and the administrative burden on government to manage this program.

In fact, this past budget estimated that cost for the government alone to be $30 million. What does that do? All that does is serve to increase the size of government and not add any additional value to our climate goals.

In conclusion, I would again urge all members of the House to support passing a bill that removes the potential of being at cross purposes for lower greenhouse gas emissions. Please support the removal of a tax where the users have absolutely no viable options and please support basic inherent market fairness.

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing ActPrivate Members' Business

May 11th, 2022 / 6 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Richard Lehoux Conservative Beauce, QC

Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-234, an act to amend the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act. This bill was introduced by the hon. member for Huron—Bruce, whom I greatly respect.

I will point out that this bill was previously introduced in the House by my friend and colleague, the hon. member for Northumberland—Peterborough South, and that it was about to be passed before the Prime Minister called a useless election.

Bill C-234 makes sense, and it will provide our farmers with substantial financial support, making it possible for them to supply the products Canadians need. Canadian farmers and livestock producers need propane or natural gas to dry grain, irrigate their lands and heat their buildings and greenhouses in order to feed Canadians and stimulate our export markets.

The Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act unfairly penalizes Canadian farmers and livestock producers by increasing the price of carbon.

This tax, in addition to the general increase in food production costs, reduces farmers’ ability to invest in high capital intensive innovations and technologies that foster sustainability and productivity gains.

In my riding of Beauce, there are many different types of production. We have a high concentration of pork and poultry producers, to name only two.

I can say that the message is clear and that the farmers I have spoken to support this legislation. I would like to point out that our party also had the support of the Bloc Québécois and the NDP the last time this bill was debated in the House and put to a vote.

I just hope that with the advent of the NDP‑Liberal coalition, our friends in the NDP will not turn their backs on farmers and forget what we are talking about right now.

I would also like to point out to the House that all members of the Agriculture Carbon Alliance are in favour of this bill. This group is composed of Canada's largest agri‑food associations.

I think it would be extremely unwise of us to ignore the importance of this measure for our country's main food suppliers.

Canadians are being hit hard by the highest inflation rate in over 30 years, and the price of everything is skyrocketing.

The Conservative Party of Canada continues to look for ways to help Canadians get by. What better way to help Canadians than to lower the price of food in this country? That is precisely what this bill would do.

When farmers are hit with ridiculously high carbon tax bills, who will shoulder the increase in costs? The consumers, of course. They will be the ones to pay the consequences.

We must be able to find tangible ways to help reduce food prices, and this bill is one of those ways.

I am certain that my Liberal colleagues will be wondering what impact this will have on the environment. My reply is that I know what I am talking about, since I am a fourth-generation farmer on a family farm. Farmers are known as protectors of the environment and innovators. They have adopted new technologies and proven their ability to constantly decrease their environmental footprint while increasing production and maintaining productivity, without the need for a carbon tax.

Unfortunately, since there are no viable alternative fuel sources to heat and dry grain, the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act as it stands will not achieve the targeted emission reductions in this area.

I would like to point out that the Parliamentary Budget Officer conducted a study on the effectiveness of the carbon tax and its reimbursement system. It was a scathing report that must have been shredded in many a Liberal office. In the House, I always hear that Canadians will end up with more money in their pockets. The Parliamentary Budget Officer’s study used a farm in Manitoba as an example; this farm received a mere 32% reimbursement on all of the carbon tax it would have had to pay in 2021.

Our agricultural industry in Canada wants to look to the future and find ways of being more efficient and greener, but it needs time to adapt and make the necessary changes. Placing a high carbon tax burden on our farmers will not help anyone.

The government always seems to find new ways of standing in the way of our farmers and livestock producers. I could give you a few examples. Our farmers are already facing difficult weather conditions and other problems over which they have no control, such as border closures in importing countries. The government has now decided that it should increase the carbon tax starting in April. The government also intends to cap the use of fertilizer. This is not to mention its 35% tax on fertilizers, which is crushing Canadian farming families.

In closing, Canada must be considered a world leader in livestock production. There are so many things going on in the world right now, including the war in Ukraine, tensions between numerous countries, heat waves in India and Pakistan and conflicts in Afghanistan. Canada should be able to provide food assistance to these countries, but our farmers can barely stay in business because of the tariffs and taxes imposed by the government. That is ridiculous.

As I have said many times in the House, Canada must use its agricultural and agri-food sector as an economic driver to move our country forward. There is nothing in the 2022 budget for agriculture, just the same old announcements.

Can we now expect the Liberals to block this bill as well? They often show great imagination when it comes to finding ways to slow us down as a country.

I hope that my colleagues listening to me today understand the importance of this bill and the good that it can do, not only for farmers, but for young parents trying to put food on the table, seniors who have trouble making ends meet, and the many families in other countries we could surely be helping by providing food aid. Everything this bill does will have a positive impact on the people in our ridings across the country. I hope that, when the time comes to vote on this bill, all parties will come together and do what needs to be done.

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing ActPrivate Members' Business

May 11th, 2022 / 5:50 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Yves Perron Bloc Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Madam Speaker, what I was saying is that it is an incentive. For an incentive to lead to a transition, there needs to be a possibility for change.

If I decided to buy a sports utility vehicle with a V8 engine to drive home from my work when I do not need it, it would make a lot of sense to tax the vehicle to encourage me to buy an electric vehicle or a smaller one. I would be in favour of such a measure.

However, I would not support such a measure being applied to grain producers who absolutely have to dry their grain. To begin with, we have to look at the basic context of North American agriculture. We do not have the same climate as our competitors. At harvest time, the grain often has to be dried. If the grain is wet when harvested, there is no choice but to dry it; otherwise it cannot be stored. There is no other way to dry grain that is as efficient, as fast, and less polluting as with propane. That is what this measure is all about. I hope that my clarifications at the beginning of my speech reassured people about my party's intentions. The Bloc is in favour of taxing pollution. We are in favour of transition measures. However, in this case, we must also act wisely.

If we put a tax on fuel we will see real repercussions: Either we reduce our agricultural producers’ margin, which is already very small because they do not control the selling price of products sold on international markets, or we increase the sale price of the product.

This measure will not reduce pollution. We need to act where it counts. Where it counts is in oil, natural gas, deposits and new projects. Where it counts is in not approving the Bay du Nord project, for example. I want someone to promise me that the oil sands development will be scaled back because the Bay du Nord project was approved, but that is not what we are hearing. We need to act where it counts.

I spoke earlier about the bills that failed because the Prime Minister called an election. There was Bill C-206. The conversations in the House distracted me a bit, but I also wanted to mention that the bill respecting supply management was at the end of the process. We will also reintroduce that bill.

What Bill C-234 does is quite simple: It changes the definition. There are already exemptions for farming fuel because there is no alternative, and natural gas and propane are simply being added. We will not be polluting more because we are adapting this bill. We are going to ensure that we do not hike the costs of agricultural production. Agriculture is the basis for everything else. That is the big difference.

As members know, the bill does not affect Quebec directly. In Quebec we have a parallel system, the carbon exchange. In theory, farmers are exempted from the carbon exchange, but they still feel the indirect impact, because when they purchase fuel, part of the costs incurred by the major companies is passed on. There are claims for that, but that is managed by Quebec.

Nevertheless, our farmers in Quebec tell us that we need to pass Bill C-234 because it is the right thing to do. It is what our farmers need. Therefore, that is what we will do.

The principle behind our support is a fair transition. I could draw a parallel with products, for example, pesticides used in fields. My colleagues know that this is a sensitive issue, and that the Bloc Québécois was among those who reacted vigorously last July when there was a rather sneaky attempt to increase limits during the construction holiday in the hope that no one would notice. This issue is a very sensitive one for us.

However, before taking a product off the market, we need to make sure there is an alternative and look into what will happen after that. Sometimes we must act prudently, but we should still use common sense and go even further. What does going further mean? It could mean establishing the famous environmental partnership I keep talking about. What is this environmental partnership?

We are asking our farmers to make an effort to reduce their environmental footprint. That is fine. They are essential to us, and they almost always volunteer to do the right thing.

However, we will be asking them, for example, to stop farming a buffer strip they have been harvesting for 25, 30, 40, 50 years or more. We are asking them to give up part of their income for the common good. That is fine, since it is the right thing to do. What is not fine is imposing this burden entirely and solely on these farmers when the entire community benefits.

I think we need to provide direct support for these measures and compensate farmers fairly. This will provide a considerable incentive for our farms to improve their performance on the ground.

This is not my first time saying this in the House, but I am convinced that we need to trust our people and decentralize these funds. Some programs are well designed and make sense. Consider, for example, the on-farm climate action fund, which is a step in the right direction. However, we need to stop asking farmers to fill out huge forms when the government decides it needs them. We must decentralize these decisions.

For example, the amounts we would pay to compensate the non-use of a buffer strip or its reforestation would be deposited in an account, a bit like the AgriInvest program. That way, the entrepreneur, in this case the farmer, would have access to it for the next technological innovation. Two years later, the farmer could use that money to build a new stable using geothermal energy. That would be another innovation made at the right time, and we could provide compensation so he could have that money for the next innovation.

None of the farmers I have met want to pollute. They are the first victims of floods and droughts. Members will recall how bad things were in the west last summer. Farmers are aware of that and they have always been aware, long before these problems arose. They work on the land all week long. They understand the situation far better than we do. We need to trust them.

Let us make the compromise proposed in Bill C-234 and provide financial relief for our farmers for a limited time. Let us foster the transition.

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing ActPrivate Members' Business

May 11th, 2022 / 5:50 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Yves Perron Bloc Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to Bill C-234, an act to amend the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act.

I listened carefully to the previous speech and I want to reassure my colleague that we fully support the pollution pricing principle. It is an important principle, because polluting has to cost something. However, this tax is supposed to be an incentive.

We do not want to tamper with the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act. That is not what we want to do. However, we think that exempting certain farm fuels from the tax is the right thing to do.

The bill before us today was already debated in the previous Parliament, as Bill C-206. Everyone remembers that. A democratic vote was held by the political parties that hold a majority in the House in the context of a minority government. It passed third reading. However, just before it was passed in the Senate, the Liberal government decided to call an election, which means that we have to start the entire process all over again. I want to take the opportunity this evening to say that I think that is unacceptable. That was an undemocratic move.

If we need to start over, then let us start over. The main principle of Bill C‑234 is simple enough. The carbon tax puts a price on pollution to encourage people to make the transition. However, we need alternatives if we want people to make the transition. That is the problem.

Madam Speaker, I am sorry, but I have been hearing conversations since I started my speech.

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing ActPrivate Members' Business

May 11th, 2022 / 5:35 p.m.
See context

Toronto—Danforth Ontario

Liberal

Julie Dabrusin LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in today's debate on private member's bill, Bill C-234. This is an important issue.

Agriculture plays an essential role in Canada's economy. Our farmers also help to feed the world. I am a city person, and I can tell members that city people rely on farmers across our country for the food on our tables. For that, we are deeply grateful. Perhaps now, more than ever, at this time of geopolitical uncertainty and rising costs, it will be vitally important to ensure that Canada's agricultural production continues to grow.

Our government is supporting Canada's farmers to make that happen, and we will continue to do so. The question we have to consider is how best to do so. More specifically, the question is how we deliver support for farmers that is effective in helping them ramp up production, without undermining important goals like addressing climate change, which itself poses a severe threat to agriculture production.

We know for a fact that farmers across the country are experiencing the impacts of climate change first-hand, with floods and droughts. In fact, I was looking at some reports about the recent flooding over the last year in B.C., which is an example of a weather event caused by climate change. It caused massive damage to farms in the area. In one report, one farmer was talking about having lost 600 acres of crops, which were all under water. There were stories of expensive farm technology lost in floods and cattle that died, along with other farm animals, and that is tragic for so many reasons, like for the disruption in people's lives and also in hitting their bottom line.

To their great credit, they are taking action to address it. Farmers have been leading the adoption of climate-friendly practices, like precision agriculture technology and low-till techniques, that can help reduce emissions and save them both time and money. Just recently, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and the Minister of Environment and Climate Change went to visit a farm to look at some of those practices.

Our government is taking action to support them. Our recent budget, for example, proposes to provide a further $329.4 million over six years starting in 2022-23, with $0.6 million in remaining amortization, to triple the size of the agricultural clean technology program. It also proposes to provide $469.5 million over six years, with $0.5 million in remaining amortization, starting in 2022-23, to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, to expand the agricultural climate solutions program's on-farm climate action fund.

The budget proposes $150 million for a resilient agricultural landscape program to support carbon sequestration and adaptation and address other environmental co-benefits, with the details of this to be discussed with provinces and territories. It proposes to provide $100 million over six years, starting in 2022-23, to the federal granting councils to support post-secondary research in developing technologies and crop varieties that will allow for net-zero-emissions agriculture.

The budget also proposes renewing the Canadian agricultural partnership, which delivers a range of support programs for farmers and agriculture in partnership with provincial and territorial governments. Each year, these programs provide $600 million to support agricultural innovation, sustainability, competitiveness and market development. This includes a comprehensive suite of business risk management programs to help Canadian farmers cope with volatile markets and disaster situations, delivering approximately $2 billion of support on average per year.

At the same time, Canada's agricultural sector already receives significant relief compared to other sectors under the federal carbon pollution pricing system. The federal fuel charge regime provides substantial upfront relief for farmers for their purchase of gasoline and diesel fuel, provided that all or substantially all of the fuel is for use in eligible farming activities, such as the operation of farming equipment and machinery.

Our government has also proposed a refundable tax credit in the 2021 economic and fiscal update for farm businesses operating in backstop jurisdictions, starting in the 2021-22 fuel charge year. It is estimated that farmers will receive $100 million in the first year, with this amount increasing as the price on carbon increases. This will help farmers transition to lower-carbon ways of farming while maintaining the price signal to reduce emissions.

These are the right ways to help farmers increase production while addressing climate change that threatens production.

My concern is that Bill C-234 could take us in a very different direction. The bill would amend the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act, sometimes referred to as the GGPPA, to expand fuel charge relief to farmers by modifying the definition of “eligible farming machinery” to include heating and grain drying.

More specifically, it would modify the definition of “qualifying farming fuel” to include natural gas and propane. This raises a range of potential concerns that must be carefully considered. For example, as this bill stands, farmers would effectively be double-compensated.

In effect, they would benefit from the proposed tax credit while also being almost fully relieved from the fuel charge. This would come at the expense of households or other sectors in those provinces, as the federal carbon pricing system is revenue-neutral and proceeds must remain in the jurisdiction of origin.

Let me remind hon. members that Canada's carbon pollution pricing system is efficient and cost-effective precisely because it puts a price on carbon pollution and then allows businesses and households to decide for themselves how best to reduce emissions.

With the significant support for farmers already in place under Canada's pollution pricing system, the additional financial supports proposed in Bill C-234 run the risk of removing this price signal completely. This price signal is the linchpin for effectively executing Canada's climate change plan.

A price on carbon pollution provides Canadians with an incentive to make more environmentally sustainable choices and to invest in greener alternatives that create a greener, cleaner economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Rather than telling Canadians how to reduce emissions, a price on carbon pollution allows businesses and people to make those decisions in a manner that best suits their own circumstances.

Carbon pollution pricing also delivers economic benefits, because it encourages Canadians and businesses to innovate and to invest in clean technologies and long-term growth opportunities that will position Canada for success in a cleaner and greener global economy.

That means more jobs for Canadians, benefiting their families and communities across the country. Bill C-234 may very well undermine the effectiveness and benefits of this system. These are all important considerations Canadians expect us to take into account as we assess the potential merits of Bill C-234.

As we do so, we must bear in mind that the federal carbon pollution pricing system is not about raising revenues. The government is not keeping any direct proceeds from the federal carbon pollution pricing system. That must be underlined: It is not staying with the federal government.

Our plan directs all proceeds from federal carbon pollution pricing back to the jurisdictions from which they were collected. Returning these proceeds helps Canadians make more environmentally sustainable consumption choices, but it does not change the incentive to pollute less. With this system, consumers and businesses have a financial incentive to choose greener options every time they make a purchase or investment decision.

Canada has been a leader in this regard and we should not do anything to compromise this. In the context of Bill C-234, we must be carefully considering it within the context of this pricing system.

The House resumed from March 25 consideration of the motion that Bill C-234, An Act to amend the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Economic and Fiscal Update Implementation Act, 2021Government Orders

May 3rd, 2022 / 1:35 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Yves Perron Bloc Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague. I really enjoy working with him on the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food.

Obviously, he wants me to talk about Bill C-234, so that is what I will do. The Bloc Québécois is extremely rational. We want to protect the environment in a way that makes sense. The reason we are supporting this system is that there is currently no other alternative. However, we need to do a lot more than this. That is why we are proposing an environmental partnership with our farmers, something serious that will not be controlled by the great, all-knowing Canada.

We need to decentralize funding for farmers, these entrepreneurs, so that they themselves can bring in technological and environmental innovations to improve yields. These innovations must be recognized, and compensation must be given for them. That money needs to be available to farmers for the next innovation. If we trust our farmers, I guarantee we will not be disappointed.

Economic and Fiscal Update Implementation Act, 2021Government Orders

May 3rd, 2022 / 1:10 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Conservative Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies, BC

Madam Speaker, I really respect the member, but to say that we are siding with the other side is really rich when we have seen the terms of the NDP-Liberal marriage. It is clear for all to see.

I will just bring up one example of when the government promised one thing. It said that carbon taxes were going to be neutral. Here again, the PBO said that just that one carbon tax exemption alone would save farmers across Canada $1.107 billion. That would be huge for our farm families and farmers across this land.

My hope, again, is that Bill C-234 passes. The government has made a good change to Bill C-8, but I digress.

Economic and Fiscal Update Implementation Act, 2021Government Orders

May 3rd, 2022 / 1:05 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Conservative Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies, BC

Madam Speaker, this is a great opportunity for me to talk once again about Bill C-234, being the measure we referred to that could potentially give a carbon tax exemption to farmers for propane and natural gas to dry and heat their shops, etc. It is a perfect opportunity. It is not finished yet; there are still votes. We still have an opportunity to support it.

I would hope that the members across, from the Liberal Party, would support a measure like this, because they missed the opportunity before. If they really want to do great things for our farmers in this country, that opportunity is still forthcoming. Again, I hope to see support for that across the way.

Economic and Fiscal Update Implementation Act, 2021Government Orders

May 3rd, 2022 / 12:55 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Conservative Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies, BC

Madam Speaker, I will be speaking to Bill C-8 for those in Canada who are watching today, and I will speak about how Bill C-8 fails our farmers.

What I learned recently, when I was back in British Columbia and spoke to the grain growers in my neck of the woods in northeastern B.C., is how dramatic the costs have risen over the last 12 months. Bill C-8 would not help. It would just makes things worse, and I will speak to that.

Ultimately, when we put our farmers at risk we put our food security at risk. I am going to mention the B.C. grain growers. That is the group I met in Dawson Creek a couple of weeks ago. They are good folks: President Malcolm Odermatt of Fort St. John, Vice-President Jennifer Critcher of Tower Lake, Robert Vander Linden of Clayhurst, Ernest Wiebe of Rose Prairie and researcher Kristyn Brody of Fort St. John. We heard what was obvious. We talked about Ukraine, the effects of Putin's invasion and its effects globally on fertilizer and things like it, and that accentuates what I am going to speak about. At a time when our farmers are getting hit with all these increased input costs, the government should be looking at any way possible to support our farmers.

This is what I heard. This is directly from farmers. From Ernest Wiebe of Rose Prairie, I heard that fuel has doubled over 12 months from 73¢ a litre $1.55 a litre this year. For Ernest's farm, let us speculate what the costs will be. Last year, in 2021, it was $110,000 for fuel, and in 2022, it will be $230,000. Inputs have doubled. Seed has doubled. Fertilizer has doubled. This highlights what the government could do with Bill C-8.

By the way, I am sharing my time with the hon. member for Battle River—Crowfoot.

The member from the Liberal Party has already spoken about what Bill C-8 could do, but what about what Bill C-8 does not do? What the government has been asked to do is to extend the carbon tax exemption to propane and natural gas. Instead of just diesel, it really needs to be applied across the board. For people in Toronto, Ottawa or Vancouver, heating a shop might be an option, but where we live, in northern B.C., it gets down to -40°C for long periods of time and this really is not an option. Natural gas and propane are also used in grain drying, so they are a much-needed commodity up there, and we are asking the government to allow propane and natural gas to be exempt.

We are talking about carbon tax credits for our farmers, and I have not even brought up what they really do by putting carbon in the ground through carbon sequestration. Then there are all the other measures that farmers contribute to our environment but do not get credit for. However, maybe I will talk about what the government is offering in Bill C-8.

It says it is offering $1.73 per $100. I think that is the promise it has made, and it is in the form of a rebate. However, the Parliamentary Budget Officer has already come back with a figure that is much lower than that. I will digress a bit here. A rebate is something that a farmer has to apply for and then get refunded in the future. It could be a year or 18 months before a farmer ever sees a dime of that rebate, or maybe never at all. Maybe a form was filled out incorrectly and the farmer does not see any rebates.

Let us get down to the brass tacks of what the government is offering. It is a lofty promise, but this is what really happens. This is from the member of Parliament for Foothills in a previous speech:

From the very beginning, when the Liberals have talked about their carbon tax, they have always said it is going to be revenue-neutral and that whatever anyone pays into the carbon tax they are going to be getting it back in a rebate. We know, from the report of the Parliamentary Budget Officer that came out last week, that this is completely untrue. In fact, Canadian farmers only get about $1.70 for every $1,000 of eligible expenses that they pay on the farm. That is definitely not revenue-neutral. In fact, that is only a fraction of what a farmer or a farm-family producer or agri-food business would spend in a carbon tax.

There is a huge cost to farmers right now. We see that the risk farmers are under is at an all-time high too. There are huge costs. The margins are the way they have pretty much always been, but the risk is much higher.

I would like to talk about a positive way the Liberals could actually change this, with Bill C-8. We have put forward a motion on this side of the House, by the member for Huron—Bruce. We had Bill C-206 put forward by a member in the House in the previous Parliament. This Parliament it is Bill C-234, and it does exactly what I am asking to do today. I will read it out.

This is a quote from the member for Huron—Bruce. He said, “According to Bill C-8, in the fall update on page 83, the rebate is $1.73. When I read that I thought it was per hundred dollars of eligible expenses, but it is actually per thousand dollars of eligible expenses. Therefore, if farmers have a million dollars in eligible expenses on their farms, they would not even receive a $1,800 rebate.”

It is cents on the dollar. This is, again, when farmers are at an all-time high of just pure risk and pure money that they are spending, and they are all dependent on weather to get food on our tables.

Once again, the Liberals across the way say the carbon tax is neutral. This is from the PBO. This is not just from the member for Foothills. This is from the PBO. The PBO recently updated the fiscal cost of Bill C-234. It costed exactly the carbon tax on propane and on heating, and the benefit that the farmers would receive. This is what the PBO has said the net gain would be. The PBO recently updated the fiscal cost of Bill C-234, and what farmers would save. Previous reports were done for its predecessor, Bill C-206. As members can see, the numbers are relatively similar, with cumulative costs being $1.107 billion versus $1.104 billion for Bill C-206.

Clearly, we have a plan. The government could be putting this in Bill C-8, as I heard the member across the way mention. This would be a really easy fix for farmers and really supportive for farmers, especially in this very trying time we are stepping into in 2022.

I am going to speak more about Bill C-234. I have another quote from the member for Foothills. He said,

In contrast to what is being offered by the Liberals in Bill C-8, the Conservatives have put forward a private member's bill, Bill C-234, that would exempt farm fuel from the carbon tax, specifically natural gas and propane used for heating and cooling barns and buildings, as well as for drying grain. That would allow those farmers to hold that money in their accounts and reinvest those dollars into their operations, again to make them more efficient and more sustainable.

Unlike the Liberals' carbon tax in Bill C-8, Bill C-234 has almost unanimous support among agriculture stakeholders, including the Agriculture Carbon Alliance, which is a coalition of 14 different national farm organizations that represent 190,000 farm businesses and more than $70 billion in cash receipts. I think that is pretty critical, when all of those groups are supporting our approach to reducing emissions compared with the Liberals' obviously failing option.

The Liberals say we are holding up debate and holding up the House, but when there are simple things like this that they could be doing for farmers across the country, especially farmers in my riding who I just spoke to two weeks ago, it is unfortunate they will not make those simple changes that might get some support across Canada.

I will finish with this: Most importantly, whenever we put our farmers at risk and their businesses fail, what concerns me is that with one failed farm business, there are implications for our food security and for putting food on our tables across the country and well into the future. We all know that once farms fail, they rarely come back.

The Liberals know the right thing to do on Bill C-8. They have the opportunity to fix it and make it better. I would ask them to do that.

Economic and Fiscal Update Implementation Act, 2021Government Orders

May 3rd, 2022 / 12:50 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Dave Epp Conservative Chatham-Kent—Leamington, ON

Madam Speaker, I appreciate my hon. colleague's raising the request for the guidance documents. I met with representatives from CropLife Canada this morning. They, too, have been looking for them since December 8, so I hope he has the opportunity to encourage the minister to release them very soon.

I want to ask the member more specifically about the price on pollution for fuels, particularly for grain drying. Why does he consider the approach the government is taking in Bill C-8 superior to the one being proposed under Bill C-234? He mentioned that the government wants to keep a price signal. However, when there are no viable alternatives, what is that price signal doing? Is he hearing from his constituents, as I am from mine, that his is the more preferable approach?

May 2nd, 2022 / noon
See context

Executive Director, Grain Growers of Canada

Erin Gowriluk

Absolutely. Thank you very much for the question.

As outlined in my initial comments, when we had an opportunity to survey our members in preparation for today's appearance, it was really all about efficiency and about cost savings. Many of the practices they've adopted make good environmental sense, but they just make good business sense. If you have an alternative to natural gas and propane, which is increasingly expensive, farmers would look to adopt that, but it has to offer cost savings and it has to be efficient.

To your question with respect to whether many of our farmers, or any of our farmers, who dry grain are currently using an alternative to natural gas and propane, the answer would be no. It simply doesn't exist yet.

I think that's why you see sector-wide support, even beyond grain growers, for Bill C-234, because we recognize that it's not going to achieve its policy intent, which is to encourage a practice change and for Canadian farmers to use alternative fuel sources, which are simply not available right now for the purposes of grain drying.

May 2nd, 2022 / 11:55 a.m.
See context

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Ms. Gowriluk, on Bill C-234 the discussions are going to be very similar to what we had in the previous Parliament with Bill C-206. I remember that when that bill was before committee we had witnesses, people who were involved in the technology, and they said that anything to replace propane and natural gas was probably at least 10 years off to be commercially viable.

We also had a witness who appeared for this current study who warned our committee against systems that may take leftover plant residue, crop residue, off the fields to use that as a fuel source, because it is very important, she said, for increasing the carbon in the soil.

No matter which way you look at it, there's a trade-off.

From your members' perspective, have any of your members started using alternative systems? Do they want to see the federal government put more research into this? I know that even with natural gas prices, with or without the carbon tax, that can still be a very volatile fuel source on international markets, so that stability won't always be there as much as farmers would like.

Please give us what comments you have on that.