Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today to speak to this issue, an issue that is near and dear to my heart. I have some things to offer today about some of the flaws I see with this motion.
I first want to correct the record. I have already heard the NDP interventions today by both the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley and the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie. They indicated that the removal of the carbon tax on home heating oil was regional, and that is 100% incorrect. The way it works is that if people heat with oil and are currently subject to the federal price on pollution, regardless of where they live in the country, they will not pay the carbon tax.
I have some news for the members for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie and Skeena—Bulkley Valley. In Ontario, twice as many people heat with oil than in all of Atlantic Canada. On the notion that it is somehow a regional thing, I hate to say it, but the NDP appears to be jumping on the bandwagon of a narrative that the Conservatives are trying to set, and it is factually incorrect. It is very important to point that out.
While I am on this topic, I would like to address the issue of home heating oil and the price on pollution, which some call the carbon tax, that has been removed from home heating oil recently. I want people to appreciate why it was done that way.
We know two things about heating with oil. It is the dirtiest form of heating and it is the most expensive form of heating. So people can understand it from a numbers perspective, in 2023, the annual operating cost in Vancouver, British Columbia for those who heat with natural gas and have a 96%-efficient furnace will be $600 for gas. For those who heat with oil in the same province and have a 94%-efficient furnace it will be $1,800. They will effectively be paying three times the cost if they heat with oil.
In Calgary, Alberta, it is $800 versus $3,200, four times as much. In Regina, Saskatchewan, it is $1,400 versus $4,400. In Toronto, Ontario, it is $900 versus $3,400. In Winnipeg, Manitoba, it is $1,300 versus $4,700. In Montreal, Quebec, it is $1,300 versus $3,400. In Fredericton, New Brunswick, it is $1,600 versus $3,600. In Halifax, Nova Scotia, it is $2,200 versus $3,200. In every example I have given, I have shown that it is significantly more expensive to heat with oil, and it is the dirtiest form of heat.
There is a natural question that environmentalists might have, and it is a very good question because it is a policy that I had to really think about when I heard the announcement. The question would be why the government would remove the price on pollution on the dirtiest form of heating.
If we were to remove it and stop there, that would be bad, because we would accomplish nothing. We would be encouraging people not to heat with oil because of the price difference, unlike what the Leader of the Opposition implied in a question during question period last week, but we certainly would not be pushing forward. Our plan is not to remove the price on pollution; it is to pause it for three years so that people can use the money they otherwise would have been spending on the dirtiest form of fuel to transition to a heat pump.
From an environmentalist perspective, I am not happy with the idea of removing a tax from the dirtiest form of fossil fuel, but I know that in the long run, we will be better off from an environmental perspective because more people will have transitioned to heat pumps.
This brings me to the second policy that was also adopted, which the Conservatives and, quite frankly, the NDP like to conflate. It is the issue of heat pumps not being available throughout the entire country. That is not true. Heat pumps are available through a federal-provincial program to the whole country. It is up to the individual province to sign up for the program.
The province would provide x number of dollars and the federal government would provide x number of dollars. That is the way the program works. It is the way the three Atlantic provinces that have signed up for the program are currently doing it. I want to make something absolutely clear. The program is available throughout the entire country, but it is up to the provinces to decide if they want to come onboard.
Another thing about home heating and oil is that Quebec has actually banned oil heating in new homes, starting on December 31, 2023. Someone cannot build a house in Quebec that has oil as a form of heating.
According to a CBC article from December 31, 2021, “As of Dec. 31, oil-powered heating is banned in all new construction projects across Quebec, part of the province's push to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” Quebec has always been a leader in this regard. The article continues, “In two years, Quebec will go a step further by making it illegal to replace existing oil furnaces with any sort of heating system powered by fossil fuels after Dec. 31, 2023.”
After December of this year, people have to replace their heating systems with a non-fossil fuel-burning source. Quebec, as a province, is doing the right thing. It is bringing in bold initiatives that are important, that are going to genuinely transform how people heat in the province.
As I indicated in a question earlier, over 80% of Quebec already heats with electricity. This motion is actually unfair to Quebeckers.
The motion says that, “the House call on the government to...remove the GST from all forms of home heating.” That sounds easy. I am sure whoever drafted it thought it made a lot of sense. However, it is forgetting the complexities of how people heat their homes. It is not as cut and dry as somebody has a gas furnace, or an oil boiler or electric baseboard heating.
For example, heating one's home with a heat pump is done by electricity. The question that I had originally when I read the motion was about people who used electricity. The member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley answered that question by saying the motion would apply to all forms of heating, Therefore, if people heat with electricity, they would not pay the GST on their electrical bill.
When my kids are playing on their PlayStation or Xbox, they are using electricity. We are not going to be paying GST on that if I happen to be one of the people who also has baseboard heaters or an electric forced air furnace. Those are very common too, especially in Quebec. If people use forced air electric furnaces, presumably, according to this motion, all GST would be removed from their electrical bill. How is that fair? The consumption of electricity that is not related to home heating would be something that is not subject to GST anymore.
The member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley addressed that point too. He said that they knew about that when they drafted the motion, that they intended for it to be on the entire electrical bill. How is that fair to somebody who heats with gas, but also has an electrical bill? My gas bill would not have the GST on it, but my electrical bill would because I do not happen to heat with electricity.
I think I understand where the New Democrats are coming from, but in my opinion, with all due respect, this is an extremely flawed motion in its wording. It does not achieve what I think they intended when they originally wrote it. That is why I am concerned about supporting it.
However, I agree with a number of things in it. I agree, and have said this in this House, that the oil and gas sector has profited with record profits. I brought to the attention of this House during various debates the fact that for the oil and gas sector, as it relates to the increases when purchasing gasoline at gas stations for our vehicles, the increase is nine times what the carbon tax effectively is. Let me explain that.
In the preceding year, on the average litre of gasoline in Canada, the carbon tax contributed a two-cent increase per litre, but the wholesale profit, the profits made not by the retailer who owns the gas station, but by the oil company selling it to the retailer, was 18¢ more per litre. It is nine times more of an effect from the profits being made versus the carbon tax. The Conservatives are nowhere on that. They are not nine times as outraged with big oil companies. No, not at all. They are picking on the two cents per litre when the bigger fish is the 18¢ per litre, but they are silent on it. I wonder why. I think we all know and I really do not have to say it. My point is I recognize that, and I think it is important to do something with respect to the oil and gas sector.
Will what the New Democrats are proposing solve the problem? They point to record profits. How do we do that? Do we do it the way we did with the banks and insurance companies? That was over a five year period. It was set up with an established base line that if they made anything more than that, they had a separate tax level, but only for five years and only while those profits were high. I understand they would collect the money and then reinvest it into environmentally friendly options, which is what they are proposing, but I do not understand the long-term strategy there. I certainly understand the short-term strategy of penalizing them for gouging the market, and I do not necessarily disagree with that, but there is no long-term strategy there.
A better long-term strategy, quite frankly, when dealing with the oil and gas sector, is to cap the emissions it is allowed to produce. This is a highly effective and established mechanism for doing that. It is nothing new.
That is why we set up strategies, such as Canada's methane strategy, which includes requirements for the oil and gas sector to achieve methane reductions of at least 75% by 2030 from 2012 levels. We have a position paper that was done on it.
I have submitted so many petitions, well over 20 petitions by this point, to this effect. I happen to have another one here. I presented one yesterday and will probably present this one tomorrow. These are from Canadians. This is what they are talking about. They are saying that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned us repeatedly that rising temperatures over the next two decades will bring widespread devastation and extreme weather. They are concerned and feeling the impacts in Canada today with increased flooding, wildfires and extreme temperatures. They want to address climate change and recognize that it requires a drastic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions to limit warming to 1.5° Celsius in the oil and gas sector, which is the largest, fastest-growing source of emissions.
In 2021, they knew the federal government committed to cap and cut emissions for the oil and gas sector to achieve net-zero emissions. These petitions, which I have presented on behalf of thousands of Canadians, call on the Government of Canada to immediately move forward with bold emissions caps for the oil and gas sector that are comprehensive in scope and realistic in nature in achieving the necessary targets that Canada has set to reduce emissions by 2030. I think that is a better strategy.
We really have two forms of pricing pollution. We could do it through a direct price on pollution, what is commonly called a carbon tax, which has been done. People are provided rebates as an incentive to curb their behaviour but still get more money back, which is why 80% or more of the Canadians who are paying it get more money back.
We could do a cap-and-trade model. That is a model the western initiative adopted with a number of states in the United States and a couple of provinces in Canada, including Ontario, although Doug Ford has since backed out of it. Another way we can do it is through cap and trade.
By capping the emissions, we can start to control what we know is the highest emitting sector and the fastest growing. As a matter of fact, it is the only sector that has not started to turn downwards in terms of its graphical representation of its emissions.
I think it is really important that we develop sound policy. I kind of get where the NDP is coming from. I understand their motivation, but I completely disagree with it. Now is the time to be steadfast in our commitment to the environment, but also to find ways to support Canadians.
I do not see how removing the GST from all forms of home heating, notwithstanding the fact that I have already pointed out the flaws in the motion, ends up encouraging people to reduce emissions, which is what the price on pollution is. It is what the Conservatives got the NDP to agree with them to vote on yesterday, and I was really surprised when I saw that. A reporter asked me why the NDP was voting in favour of it. I said that I did not know. I understand that they see people are struggling, because we do too, but we can provide other supports for people. We do not have to rely on the narrative that the Conservative leader has created. There are ways we can deal with helping people that do not have to be at the expense of the environment.
I will conclude by saying that, although I appreciate where the NDP is coming from, I think that the motion is highly flawed. It creates a lot of questions, and those questions create a lot of inequality. We would be much better served to find other ways to support people.
By the way, I just want to throw this out there for my NDP colleagues. The motion is basically calling for Galen Weston not to pay GST on home heating. Are they aware of that? Are they aware of the fact that the motion basically says that Galen Weston would not pay GST on his home heating? I do not think this is what NDP members had in their heads when they created it, but unfortunately, the motion creates a lot of problems. I actually think that nobody knows better than the NDP that we would be better off targeting our supports to those who really need it than to those who do not, such as myself, Galen Weston and other people who are able to afford the cost of heating.
I would encourage my NDP colleagues to really give it some thought. I understand where they are coming from, but unfortunately, I think the motion is extremely flawed in its execution.