Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak on Bill C-206, an act to amend the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act. It is the private member's bill of my Conservative colleague, the member for Northumberland—Peterborough South.
First, as the official opposition shadow minister for agriculture and agri-food, I want to congratulate the member for Northumberland—Peterborough South and thank him for this bill. The member is well aware of the challenges faced by farmers and producers in his riding and is clearly in touch with their concerns. I believe his constituents can look forward to his long and fruitful service on their behalf.
I have heard many concerns from farmers and producers in my own riding of Lambton—Kent—Middlesex and how the carbon tax negatively affects their cost of production and puts them at a competitive disadvantage against imports coming from our neighbours to the south, especially given our close proximity to the U.S. border.
I turn now to the bill itself. If the government refuses to support this bill, it will send a clear a message to Canadians generally and to Canadian farmers, ranchers and producers in particular. The message the Liberals will send is that they do not care how their carbon tax negatively affects Canadians and our domestic food security and production. The Liberals will also show how sadly out of touch they are with Canadian farmers.
I want to point out to this House the current situation with the Liberals' carbon tax and producers. Farmers are already exempt from paying the federal carbon tax on gasoline and fuel oils, which includes diesel fuel, where these are used for agriculture production on the farm. Let me be clear: This bill is only proposing to extend this existing federal carbon tax exemption for farmers to include propane and natural gas.
Last March at the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food and again on a video conference last June, the agriculture minister suggested that the farmers' federal carbon tax payments on propane and natural gas are less than 1% of their expenditures and insignificant, but that is just not the case. As one might imagine, the Liberals' carbon tax on propane and natural gas is far more than that. Many farmers and producers use propane or natural gas to heat their barns and dry grain and oilseeds.
Last November, the parliamentary budget office released a report on the carbon tax showing that farmers, ranchers and producers would pay $9 million for the remainder of just this fiscal year, plus $226 million over the next four fiscal years, for using propane and natural gas in their operations. For that period of time, that is a total of $235 million. It appears the Minister of Agriculture has a problem not just with math but with arithmetic, so let me press further on the arithmetic and math.
The profit margins for most Canadian producers are very narrow. For most Canadian farmers, there is very little room for error or additional input costs. For Canadian farmers, the Liberals' carbon tax is an input cost on their production, and most producers are price-takers, not price setters. That means farmers have no way of recovering what they pay in the Liberals' carbon tax from the next stage of the supply chain. To be clear, the Liberals' carbon tax takes from most Canadian farmers' profits and from their families' standard of living.
Canadians count on a reliable supply of food on their grocery shelves, and this just in: Food must come from a farm. If a farm is not profitable, the farm must shut down and the farmer must leave the land. As Canadian farmers are driven off the land and out of business, less food is produced here in Canada. A reliable supply of food must be found elsewhere and Canadian food sovereignty is put in doubt.
By bringing forward this bill, my colleague has shown he understands the challenges farmers face, but the minister's resistance to extending an exemption to the Liberals' carbon tax shows just out of touch she is with farmers.
The Minister of Agriculture's problems do not stop there. The minister has recently suggested that farmers should innovate so as to avoid using propane and natural gas in their production, but for many farmers, using propane and natural gas is the only option. Propane and natural gas are widely used by producers and farmers for heating their barns and drying their grains and oilseeds, and there are no other options available currently.
Ironically, at a recent meeting of the Keystone Agricultural Producers in Manitoba, the minister indicated that farmers could finance the purchase of a new, more efficient gas or propane grain dryer using the climate action incentive fund, so on the one hand she is telling farmers to find a viable alternative and on the other she is proclaiming that her government will pay for it. Which is it? Could the minister be any more out of touch with farmers?
The existing federal carbon tax exemption for farmers' use of gasoline and fuel oils raises another question. Compared to gasoline and fuel oils, both propane and natural gas are very clean fuels in respect of their emissions.
According to the United States Energy Information Administration, the carbon dioxide emissions from diesel and heating oil are 16% higher than for propane. The CO2 emissions for diesel and heating oil are 37% higher than the emissions for natural gas. The CO2 emissions for gasoline are 13% higher than for propane and 17% higher than for natural gas.
According to the Canadian Propane Association, “Studies have found that propane can emit up to 26% fewer GHGs than gasoline in vehicles, 38% fewer GHGs than fuel oil in furnaces.... Propane's end-use GHG emissions are significantly lower than gasoline, diesel, coal and heating oil. When upstream life-cycle emissions are taken into account, the case for propane becomes even stronger.” That is the science.
Here is the question: Why is the government refusing to extend the federal carbon tax exemption to propane and natural gas when they emit less carbon dioxide than gasoline or fuel oil? This is clearly not a science-based decision. Not only does the government have trouble with mathematics and arithmetic and not only is it out of touch with farmers, but it has trouble with the science too.
Let me draw to the attention of the House the wider consequences of the government's failure to be in touch with Canadian farmers and producers. Let me underscore the problems with the Liberals' inability to understand the issues around farmers' profit margins.
As farmers' profit margins move toward zero or cross over to become losses, it becomes more and more difficult for farmers and ranchers to stay on the land and in the business of producing food and feedstocks. How many times on this side of the House have we heard from farmers and ranchers whose families have been on the land for generations, but who now can no longer afford the uncertainty of knowing whether this year would see profit or loss? How many farm families who have been on the land for generations have shut down operations because their children saw little future in staying on the land with losses year over year? How many farm families have seen their standard of living gradually fall as costs pile up and the market prices for their commodities are static or in a downward trend?
Some of these Canadian families have been on the land for three, four, five or more generations. Despite producing a reliable supply of food for all Canadians, Canadian farmers are faced with a Liberal government that seems to think that food security is only about food banks. The Liberals are wrong. They are putting the ability of Canadians to produce food and Canadian food sovereignty in doubt.
Despite being prudent managers of the land they hold, Canadian farmers, ranchers and producers see little recognition from the Liberal government for their contribution to maintaining a safe, clean outdoor environment. Despite being conscientious taxpayers who contribute to the treasuries of their municipality and their province and the federal treasury, Canadian farmers, ranchers and producers are faced with a government that believes they should pay even more in the form of the Liberals' carbon tax.
On this side of the House, we say, “Enough.” On this side of the House, Conservatives believe that the challenges Canadian farmers face should be top of mind. Conservatives know that agriculture producers may be Canada's most important natural resources producers. Conservatives know Canadian families rely on Canadian farmers for a steady, secure and reliable supply of food on grocery shelves. Conservatives understand that farming is both a way of life for many Canadian families and their business.
Conservatives understand that the way of life requires that farming be profitable. Conservatives understand that ranchers pay property taxes, sales taxes and income taxes. Conservatives understand that agricultural producers cannot afford to pay the Liberals' carbon tax on fuel used for production, including propane and natural gas. Conservatives offer Canadian farmers, ranchers and producers a bright future for their families and for the generations that will follow in their steps.
For those reasons, as the official opposition's shadow minister for agriculture and agri-food, it is my honour and privilege to support the member for Northumberland—Peterborough South and his bill, Bill C-206.