“We will not impose a carbon tax on the good people of this province,” Moe told his supporters.
“And Justin Trudeau, if you are wondering how far I will go — just watch me.”
The Sask. Party government, under new leadership, is reinstating the provincial sales tax (PST) exemption for agriculture, life and health insurance premiums, effective today.
The exemption covers agriculture (which includes crop, livestock and hail insurance premiums), as well as individual and group life and health insurance premiums. Health includes disability, accident and sickness insurance.
The exemption is retroactive to Aug. 1, 2017, the date PST was applied to insurance.
The Ministry of Finance will work with the insurance industry to determine the best way to refund individuals and businesses that have paid PST on agriculture, life and health insurance premiums. More information about how the refunds will be administered will be available by April 10.
While campaigning, Scott Moe said he would reintroduce PST exemptions on crop, life and health insurance and pay for it partly with a workforce reduction through retirements and attrition in executive government and the Crown corporations.
The five-per-cent reductions proposed by Moe are expected to save $70 million over two years, he said back in October. The remaining $50.5 million needed to cover the $120.5 million cost of reintroducing the PST exemptions, which were eliminated in the government’s 2017-18 budget, would come from delaying the introduction of a proposed corporate income tax reduction, he said.
“Our government will help families and small businesses save money, invest and help our province grow,” Moe said in a news release. “Part of that commitment is to exempt agriculture, life and health insurance from PST.”
The change has an impact of $65 million on revenue forecast for 2017-18 and a $120 million impact on revenue forecast for 2018-19.
Moe said the financial impact can be accommodated within the government’s three-year plan to balance the budget by 2019-20.
“Our fiscal plan remains on track, even with this reinstatement of the PST exemption on crop, life and health insurance,” Moe said.
Moe and the finance minister are expected to further address reporters on the change later Monday morning.
Oil-rich Saskatchewan on Wednesday launched a constitutional challenge of Canada's plan to impose a carbon tax on the province if it fails to introduce its own measures to slash CO2 emissions.
The case asks the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal to rule on what it says is federal over-reach and meddling in its affairs.
"We do not believe the federal government has the constitutional right to impose (a national) carbon tax on Saskatchewan, against the wishes of the government and people of Saskatchewan," Premier Scott Moe said.
"We have a made-in-Saskatchewan plan to reduce emissions and fight climate change, and that plan does not include a job-killing carbon tax on Saskatchewan families."
Currently four provinces -- Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec -- have carbon pricing such as through a tax on emissions, or cap-and-trade schemes.
Those four provinces represent more than 80 percent of the population in the world's seventh-largest oil producer. Almost all of the other provinces have carbon pricing schemes in the works.
Under cap-and-trade, emitters are essentially given a pollution allowance. If companies exceed their allowances they can purchase credits from firms below the threshold, and vice versa.
Saskatchewan, which has been developing carbon capture technology on a massive scale, is the lone holdout, and it has vowed to defend its oil and gas sector.
Its own climate plan, released in December, would target mostly large emitters and update its building code. The plan has been panned by federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna.
Ottawa announced a minimum carbon price starting this year at Can$10 (US$7.79) and rising each year to a maximum of Can$50 per tonne in 2022.
If provinces do not meet these minimums, Ottawa intervenes and imposes a carbon tax to make up the difference.
Canada's Paris agreement commitment is to slash CO2 emissions 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.
The premiers of Saskatchewan and Ontario met in Toronto on Monday to talk trade, drawing the ire of a federal minister less than a week after the two provinces decided not to send officials to a meeting of federal, provincial and territorial representatives on trade in Vancouver.
"It's extremely disappointing to see Ontario and Saskatchewan play political games with such an important economic file after being the only provinces absent from the table at last week's meeting in Vancouver on Internal Trade and the USMCA," said federal minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Dominic LeBlanc in a statement.
"The Premiers need to stop putting their partisan interests ahead of the growth of the economy and the well-being of Canadians."
On Monday, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and Ontario Premier Doug Ford held their second meeting this month to discuss trade and voice their shared opposition to the federal government's carbon plan. Ford was in Saskatoon on Oct. 4 to meet with Moe and Saskatchewan business leaders.
On Monday, the two premiers signed a memorandum of understanding to begin bilateral discussions to lower trade barriers between the two provinces.
"I am so proud to have a partner like Premier Moe work with us to make new jobs, new investment and new growth a reality in both provinces," Ford said.
Ford said he "looked forward" to working with other province's to bring down trade barriers.
When asked about missing the meeting last week in Vancouver, Moe said, "it is my understanding that there was six provinces not present."
"I was disappointed that Ontario and Saskatchewan were singled out in that communication but there were six provinces that were not present at that meeting," Moe said.
LeBlanc's office sent the attendees list of both the ad hoc meeting of internal trade ministers and the briefing on the USMCA held on Oct. 25. According to the list provided by the minister`s office, each province and territory had at least one representative, with the exception of Saskatchewan and Ontario.
When Ford was asked why he did not send representatives he said, "we just signed an MOU and we're going to move forward on that MOU and I'll keep it at that."
Ford said Canadian premiers "spent hours" talking about first aid kits at a recent meeting "when we should be doing something a little more productive. We'll get this done and other provinces can join."
Minister calls Vancouver meeting 'political, partisan'
On Monday, Saskatchewan's Minister of Trade Jeremy Harrison defended not attending the meetings in Vancouver.
"It was an ad hoc meeting called by the feds with nowhere near the amount of notice that generally be put into these things," Harrison said.
LeBlanc's office said the invitation to the Vancouver meeting was sent on Oct. 5.
"I'll tell what the purpose of the meeting was it was political and it was partisan," Harrison said.
Harrison said premiers have raised the issue of a lack of competitiveness and that the federal government has been avoiding dealing with it.
Harrison said an "official" internal trade meeting has been called for the end of November, which the government plans on attending.
"We're going to the real one," he said.
Harrison said the attendance list supplied by Minister LeBlanc's office was "entirely dishonest." He said six provincial ministers skipped the meetings.
Harrison pointed out that British Columbia's trade minister did not attend the meeting despite it being held in Vancouver.
On the MOU signed between Saskatchewan and Ontario, Harrison said the two province's had been working on it with some intensity for the last seven to 10 days.
The government of Saskatchewan has taken an important step in putting their climate change plan into action next year. Environment Minister Dustin Duncan tabled necessary legislation to implement industry performance standards.
In addition to performance standards, The Management and Reduction of Greenhouse Gases Amendment Act, Bill 132, will provide the regulatory framework for heavy emitters contributing to a green technology fund, purchasing performance credits and carbon offset credits.
READ MORE: Saskatchewan unveils climate change plan; will not submit to Ottawa for assessment
“These amendments are an important step in fulfilling our government’s promise to reduce emissions and make Saskatchewan more resilient to the impacts of climate change,” Duncan said. “We already have an effective plan, and we are proceeding with industrial performance standards and compliance options in 2019 – especially with the federal government’s recognition of Prairie Resilience.”
When unveiling the framework for the federal price on emissions, Ottawa said that sectors covered under Prairie Resilience will only have to comply with those regulations.
However, since power generation and energy pipelines were not included, those sectors will be regulated under the federal standards come Jan. 1, 2019.
Bill 132 will also oversee several administrative steps of Prairie Resilience, including a requirement for heavy emitters to register with the province.
All emitters pumping out over 10,000 tonnes of carbon annually will have to track their emissions. Those with emissions over 25,000 tonnes will have to comply with performance standards.
The minister said that emitters under the 25,000 tonnes threshold may want to voluntarily comply earlier if they anticipate their emissions growing. This would allow them to access the technology fund or start earning performance credits ahead of time.
Duncan first unveiled these performance standards at the end of August, with a stamp of approval from several industry groups.
These amendments build off legislation that was passed in 2009 to establish a technology fund for heavy emitters. However, the legislation was never implemented.
The opposition NDP have been calling for the legislation to be implemented for years. Opposition Leader Ryan Meili said they have not yet had time to properly go over these new amendments.
"The government's actually had nine years to put it in place and take action. They've chosen not to. Now there's pressure to move quickly," Meili said.
"We will certainly have a good look at what the amendments are and decide whether or not it's close enough to the original that we're happy with it and it can go quickly. If there are real concerns that we have, we will debate them."
READ MORE: Economy, healthcare and climate change – Sask. gov’t leaders lay out session priorities
The province touts Prairie Resilience as a climate plan that has achievable emission reduction targets, without implementing an economy-wide price on pollution.
The federal government plans on imposing a carbon tax on Saskatchewan next year. In addition to the price on power and energy generation, there will be a price on fuel that takes effect April 1, 2019. That price is expected to add 4.42 cents per litre to the price of gas in the first year.
READ MORE: Liberals say 90% of carbon tax will be given to Canadians in rebate
The federal plan will see carbon pollution priced at $10 per tonne next year, adding $10 annually until reaching $50 per tonne in 2022.
The province does have a legal challenge on this tax before Saskatchewan’s Court of Appeal. Justice Minister Don Morgan anticipates the case will be heard in the spring, but doesn’t anticipate a final decision until sometime in 2020.
SASKATOON - A First Nations leader says proposed Saskatchewan legislation that would require people to get permission before going on private land could lead to clashes and even deaths.
Chief Bobby Cameron with the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations said a man was found hunting on Kawacatoose First Nation land on Tuesday. Cameron said the man was told he didn't have permission to hunt there and was escorted off. But it may not always be that simple, the chief said.
"Had it been the other way around, I don't know if a farmer would have been that kind or that patient."
The proposed changes to trespassing laws were introduced Tuesday, more than two years after Colten Boushie, a 22-year-old Indigenous man, was killed on a farm in rural Saskatchewan.
Earlier this year, a jury acquitted farmer Gerald Stanley of second-degree murder after he testified his gun went off accidentally when he was trying to scare off some young people who drove onto his property.
"We hope there are no more tragedies, we really hope," Cameron said. "But if they do, this provincial government should also say, we will be held liable if someone dies because of this trespassing legislation."
Justice Minister Don Morgan said the proposed law balances the rights of rural landowners and the public. The legislation would provide legal protection for landowners against property damage caused by a trespasser.
A recent survey released by the province showed 65 per cent of respondents said people should ask landowners for permission before they go onto private land.
"Our goal ... is protecting landowners, not necessarily protecting the rights of somebody that wants to come onto the land," Morgan said in Regina.
He said the legislation would put rural land on par with urban land where owners don't have to prove that a property was fenced or marked. Not being able to find somebody is no excuse to go on the land without permission, he added.
"I would hope that landowners would adopt a reasonable position and make themselves available," Morgan said.
Cameron said it's unfortunate the province didn't consult the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations and decided to base the proposed changes on the survey's results.
He predicted the proposal, if passed, will create headaches because First Nation lands and roads are used by non-Indigenous people.
"You mean to tell me that every farmer and rancher and agriculturalist needs to call chief and council every single time to come on to lands?" Cameron said.
"That's cumbersome. There's a better way of doing business."
Opposition NDP critic Trent Wotherspoon said the proposed legislation isn't practical and doesn't address rural crime.
"To make changes that have an impact without engaging in good faith (with) Indigenous peoples, traditional land users on that front, is disgraceful," he said.
The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations says the province's new rules around trespassing are unconstitutional.
Justice Minister Don Morgan tabled amendments on Tuesday to three pieces of legislation — The Trespass to Property Act, The Snowmobile Act and The Wildlife Act — to indicate members of the public need to seek permission from a rural property owner before entering their land.
The changes to the legislation are being heavily criticized by the FSIN.
"I think there is a deep disrespect here for treaty and inherent rights," said FSIN Vice-Chief Heather Bear. "They need to take a look at their own constitution."
Bear argues the changes could interfere with Indigenous people exercising their treaty rights.
"Can the province pass legislation that really undermines the constitutionally protected rights to hunt, fish, trap and gather?" Bear asked.
Morgan said existing legislation unfairly places the onus on rural land owners to post signs on their land to legally deny access.
"[FSIN] have taken the position that they don't believe the legislation applies to them — that they should have right to hunt or travel wherever they want," Morgan said Tuesday.
He said the province's position is that landowners have the right to determine who can be on their property.
But Bear said the FSIN is just affirming what the courts have already stated.
"In Minister Morgan's comments, he seems to be saying that the FSIN is saying First Nations can hunt on private land. But it is, in fact, the courts that said that," she said.
"That is what's troubling when we talk about passing this type of legislation that seems to undermine what the court says."
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court said it won't hear a case involving an Indigenous hunter and questions around his ability to hunt on unmarked, privately owned lands.
In 2015, Kristjan Pierone, an Indigenous hunter from Manitoba, shot and killed a moose at the bottom of a dry slough near Swift Current one day before moose hunting season started.
Pierone did not have a licence to hunt moose and did not have permission from the landowner to do so. However, he argued the land appeared to be unused and as a status Indian, he thought he was exercising his treaty right to hunt.
The government's review of its trespassing rules comes after concerns were raised from rural property owners on the issue, which is also related to rural crime.
An online survey, which ran on the province's website from Aug. 9 to Oct. 2, found the majority of respondents were in favour of switching the onus from property owners to the public.
"There are better ways to deal with rural crime rather than infringing on a treaty inherent right," Bear said.
She says the FSIN is in consultations about its next move.
"We may have to take a legal position on this," said Bear.
"Is it responsible to be creating, passing legislation that you know is going get litigated? And of course, it is our taxpayers who paying for that."
The Saskatchewan government introduced legislation Tuesday to reverse the onus of securing permission to access private land for purposes like hunting and snowmobiling.
Under previous regulations, it was the land owner’s responsibility to fence, post land, or have “no trespassing” signs. New amendments aim to make it so someone will need permission from the landowner prior to accessing private rural land.
“There have been concerns raised over the years that the current legislation unfairly places the onus on rural landowners to post their land to legally deny access,” Justice Minister and Attorney General Don Morgan said.
READ MORE: Sask. government finds majority support prior consent in trespass survey
“This legislation shifts that responsibility to those wishing to access the land, by requiring them to obtain prior permission from the landowner or occupier.”
The province said this comes from responses to a survey held between Aug. 9 and Oct. 2., with 65 per cent of the 1,601 responses in favour of prior permission to access land.
The government statement adds this legislative change provides legal protection to landowners against property damage, risk of agricultural disease like club root, and limits liability that may arise from a trespasser’s presence.
READ MORE: Farmers hope to see Saskatchewan government tighten trespass legislation
Municipal relations critic Trent Wotherspoon said that if the province wanted to get serious about rural crime they would focus on the root causes and not legislation he described as impossible to enforce.
"What we think it should be about is a response to the crystal meth crisis for example across the province, meaningful measures around poverty and adequate policing across the province," Wotherspoon said. "Those on farms are very isolated and call times are very long. Those are things that should be addressed."
Wotherspoon also criticized the government for their lack of consultation with the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) and hunting/conservation group, the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation. He added that holding a survey doesn't cut it for consultation.
"They owe it to stakeholders, to people, to Indigenous peoples in this case to engage in earnest and face to face," Wotherspoon said.
"It's a disgrace that hasn't occurred and it's really damaging and really too bad that hunters have been shut out on this front because there's a real possibility when you're trying to address an area like this that you can find some compromises and bring forward common sense legislation that will work."
Wotherspoon is a Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation member.
Morgan said there are some specifics that still need to be worked out, like what happens if an animal wounded by a hunter wanders onto private land.
On the FSIN front, Morgan said he has spoken with their leadership, and they said they view the proposed changes as a violation of Treaty hunting rights. Morgan said the provincial view is that hunting rights do not extend to private property.
"I hope that over time that they take a look at it and take a responsible approach to where they want to hunt. There's lots of places where they can hunt without permission," Morgan said.
Speaking to The Canadian Press, FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron said it's unfortunate the province didn't consult the FSIN and decided to base the proposed changes on the survey's results.
He predicted the proposal, if passed, will create headaches because First Nation lands and roads are used by non-Indigenous people.
"You mean to tell me that every farmer and rancher and agriculturalist needs to call chief and council every single time to come on to lands?'' Cameron said.
"That's cumbersome. There's a better way of doing business."
Cameron added that a man found hunting on Kawacatoose First Nation land Tuesday was told he didn't have permission to hunt and was escorted off the land.
"Had it been the other way around, I don't know if a farmer would have been that kind or that patient,'' Cameron said.
Discussion around these changes were pushed to the forefront following the annual Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities Convention (SARM) in March.
During the annual “bear pit” session many concerns about rural crime were raised. These proposed changes to The Trespass Act closely mirror points made by RM of Fertile Belt Reeve Arlynn Kurtz.
“What we need is a strong trespassing law. Private property is private property, so if you’re coming to my place and you need help you come down my driveway, you come up to my house, or if I’m in the yard you come up to me and say this is my issue,” Kurtz said on March 16.
Morgan expects the legislation to pass sometime next year, ideally before the fall hunting season.
READ MORE: Sask. government opens discussion on rural trespass laws and regional policing
This is the latest step the province has taken in a rural crime push that has been a major focus in recent years.
Other measures include the ability for small communities to establish/join regional police services and expanding highways and conservation officers scope to include responding to normal police calls if they are nearby.
Training will become mandatory for drivers seeking a Class 1 commercial license in Saskatchewan next year. Potential semi-drivers will be required to undergo a minimum of 121.5 hours of training.
These changes take effect March 15, 21019. This discussion has been going on for some time at the provincial government level but was thrust into the spotlight after the April 6, 2018 Humboldt Broncos bus crash.
“Saskatchewan has been working to improve standards for training curriculum and driver testing for semi drivers since mid-2017,” Minister Responsible for SGI Joe Hargrave said.
“Our ongoing consultations with other provinces have helped address gaps and inconsistencies when commercial drivers cross provincial borders. Stronger training requirements in Saskatchewan and across Canada will help make our province’s and our nation’s roads safer.”
READ MORE: Semi driver charged with dangerous driving causing death in Humboldt Broncos bus crash
Drivers who already have their Class 1 will be grandfathered in as of March 15.
The new training will include instruction in the classroom, yard and behind the wheel. Focus areas will include basic driving training techniques, professional driving habits, vehicle inspections and air brakes. Training schools will receive instruction on this standardized curriculum, and the province says those who deliver training will be held to higher standards.
After March 15, the Class 1 test will be conducted by SGI examiners only.
“The Saskatchewan Trucking Association applauds this move,” Saskatchewan Trucking Association Executive Director Susan Ewart said.
“The industry is on-board with strengthened training requirements. Commercial drivers play a critical role delivering goods that keep our economy moving. Our industry also has a responsibility to make sure commercial semi drivers have the knowledge and skills to do their job ensuring the safety of everyone on the road.”
READ MORE: Humboldt Broncos victims’ families happy with charges, but they won’t ‘take away our heartbreak’
For those who drive truck exclusively for farming operations there will be different rules. These drivers will need to successfully obtain an “F” endorsement on their existing driver’s license. This also starts on March 15.
The province says this exception is being made because those who drive truck exclusively for farming operations typically travel less frequently over a shorter distance and through less populated areas. These drivers will be restricted to only operating within Saskatchewan’s borders.
Drivers who already have a Class 1 or complete the training will not need to get an “F” endorsement.
The province says they are continuing to consult with the agriculture sector on how the introduction of mandatory truck training impacts the industry.
REGINA - The federal government is opposing a pitch by Alberta's United Conservative Party for intervener status in an upcoming court case in Saskatchewan over the national carbon tax.
Documents filed by Ottawa in Saskatchewan's Court of Appeal on Wednesday say the party's interest in the case is political and speculative.
"It is disappointing to see Conservative politicians across the country using taxpayer money and resources to oppose serious action on climate change," Caroline Theriault, a spokeswoman with federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna's office, said in a statement.
Saskatchewan has asked the court to rule on whether the federal government's plan to force a carbon tax on the province is constitutional.
The province believes its own climate change plan, which doesn't include a carbon tax, is enough to reduce emissions.
The federal government also said it doesn't want the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, the Assembly of First Nations, Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan (APAS) and Climate Justice Saskatoon to have standing in the case.
Theriault said Ottawa's position on which interveners should be allowed is based on the legal rules for intervener application in reference cases.
Saskatchewan argues in its submission that the United Conservative Party should be granted intervener status. Other parties it supports are APAS, the taxpayers federation, Saskatchewan Power Corp. and SaskEnergy Inc.
Ottawa supported eight organizations for intervener status including SaskPower and SaskEnergy, Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, the David Suzuki Foundation and Canadian Public Health Association.
Organizations which Saskatchewan doesn't want included as interveners include the Assembly of First Nations, Canadian Public Health Association and Intergenerational Climate Coalition.
A panel of three judges will decide which interveners will be allowed on Dec. 12 in Regina. The case is to be heard in mid-February.
The United Conservatives called out Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for Ottawa's argument against the party.
UPC leader Jason Kenney said his party needs to be heard on the carbon tax.
"The UCP is stepping up and seeking to intervene because the current Alberta government refuses to do so," Kenney said in an email.
"It's telling that the Trudeau Government is happy with foreign-funded groups like the David Suzuki Foundation and Environmental Defence fighting for a carbon tax in Canadian courts, but not the Official Opposition in Alberta that represents a significant number of Albertans."
Amir Attaran, a lawyer for Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, said he supports the federal government's position against the UPC party having standing in the case.
"It's hard to see how Jason Kenney would be doing anything other than making this case a political forum because he's not in power," Attaran said.
Ontario is also taking the federal government to court on the constitutionality of the carbon tax. Its challenge is to be heard in April.
The federal government has given the provinces until January to come up with their own carbon pricing or have targets imposed on them. The carbon price outlined by Ottawa starts at a minimum of $20 a tonne and rises $10 annually until 2022.
New Brunswick and Manitoba also have not signed on to the federal plan.
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe is looking to add the carbon tax to the first ministers meeting agenda on Friday in Montreal.
Moe and Notley call on Trudeau to include oil price 'crisis' at first ministers meeting