Who benefits from Manitoba’s ‘gas tax holiday’, and for how long? -Winnipeg

Small businesses and climate activists are examining what the province’s new gas tax holiday bill could mean for Manitobans.

The bill was introduced Thursday by Finance Minister Adrien Sala and proposes to remove the provincial tax on gasoline and diesel. That means 14 cents per liter will stay in commuters’ pockets, saving the average two-car family about $250 over six months – that’s how long the tax break will last.

Although only proposed for six months, stakeholders say the impact would be beneficial – or detrimental.

What small businesses are saying

Brianna Solberg of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) said removing the provincial fuel tax would be a lifeline for small businesses.

“Data from our most recent survey indicates that 63 percent of business owners say fuel and energy costs are the biggest costs their business faces,” she said, adding that 80 percent of CFIB members started paying more for energy in the last year, even though they were using the same amount.

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Importantly, Solberg said the reduction would not only help small businesses involved in deliveries and transportation, but because it would reduce transportation and shipping costs, it would help everyone.

“I think the general cost relief right now is a really positive sign,” she said, particularly as the deadline for the Canada Emergency Business Account approaches, resulting in businesses having to repay the federal government money they lent to stay afloat during the crisis period. pandemic.

If they miss the deadline, their debt will turn into a three-year loan with interest of five percent per year.

“I think if the bill pa*ses, it will go a long way in helping businesses on the road to recovery,” she said.

Aaron Dolyniuk, executive director of the Manitoba Trucking Association, said the tax break wouldn’t help big trucking companies that much, due to a fuel surcharge.

“A surcharge typically fluctuates with the price of fuel so trucking companies aren’t caught in the middle,” he said, preventing them from losing money from unexpected fuel price increases . He added that this also pa*sed on “the cost of fuel to the consumer or those who purchase the (transported) product or service.”

So while big trucking companies wouldn’t feel the disruption as much, he said consumers would.

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Dolyniuk said the biggest one that will be seen over six months will be the pump.

What climate activists are saying

On the other hand, Bethany Daman, communications manager for Manitoba’s climate action team, says a short-term fuel tax cut could break the bank in the future.

“Failing to ensure affordability measures take emissions reductions into account means our long-term costs – due to extreme weather events – will increase significantly,” she said.

Daman said relieving financial pressures on Manitobans is a good thing, but it’s intersectional.

“The affordability crisis, the health care crisis and the climate crisis are so connected,” she said, with many solutions overlapping. However, it will be essential to keep a long-term perspective and not get lost in the moment.

“It is important to ensure that we are not short-sighted in making these decisions and simply ensure that all measures, all policies, all budgets and all legislation take climate into account.”

The main concern, she said, is “extreme weather events,” which will result from climate change caused largely by emissions.

“One thing our team has really looked at closely is where emissions are coming from in Manitoba, and the three key areas are food, transportation and housing,” she said.

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One of the two most important areas is transportation.

But regardless of where the emissions come from, Daman said Manitoba is lagging behind.

“We are one of only two provinces in Canada whose emissions are even higher than they were in 2005.” She said that if Canada is to meet its commitment to the Paris Agreement which aims to reducing global emissions by 45 percent by 2030 and reaching net zero emissions by 2050, “every six months counts.

“During this time, we need to do absolutely everything we can to help people reduce their consumption of fossil fuels, rather than encouraging them. »

She said one way to do that is to improve public transportation in cities and rural areas.

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