WINNIPEG, Man. — The Manitoba Trucking Association (MTA) says it’s doing what it can to help mitigate the added costs of the province’s impending carbon levy, set to kick in this September.
At the crux of the association’s efforts is increasing safety, namely through its RPM – Trucking Industry Safety program, which was originally spurred by a need to reduce WCB costs.
Terry Shaw, executive director of the MTA, said the provincial government had committed to implementing a safety program years ago, but “hung a left” on the promise. At the time, industry members had and issue with rising WCB rates and were looking for a way to lower the costs.
Collaboratively with the MTA, members worked together to create the industry-based safety program, RPM.
“And go figure, our incident rates are going down and our premium costs are going down,” Shaw pointed out. “It’s a concept that works.”
When it comes to the carbon tax, the MTA came to the obvious conclusion after looking at the government’s environmental, efficiency, and economic files that the less fuel they burn, the less they buy, and the less GHG emissions they produce.
Manitoba, as well as the provincial trucking industry as a whole, was a province that wanted to create its own carbon tax plan and avoid having the federal government step in and implement one on its behalf. Part of that plan, from the trucking community and many others, was to have the monies collected from the carbon levy put toward fuel efficiency initiatives, like the GrEEn Trucking program.
“Our members said let’s go to our government of the day and ask for a carbon level and it will be an incremental increase in the fuel tax on diesel that will come back to our industry to be used for efficiency programing,” said Shaw. “You see it all over – Ontario has a program, Green Commercial Vehicle Program…$270 million available for tires, axles, aerodynamics and APUs.”
Shaw said the provincial government addressed this matter in its Climate and Green Plan, but when the budget came out, all of the carbon tax revenues that “everybody believed would be going to the Manitoba Climate and Green Plan,” were put into various other tax reductions unrelated to fuel efficiency and the environment.
“Everyone in Manitoba said, ‘What the heck is this?’” said Shaw.
Manitoba’s carbon tax will result in a 6.7 cents-per-liter increase in diesel, which the MTA said equates to around $50 million in fuel tax by heavy diesel vehicles in the province. This is in addition to the $318 million the province already collects in fuel taxes from the industry.
“Our made-in-Manitoba Climate and Green Plan will cost less and reduce more than the made-in-Ottawa carbon tax,” said Premier Brian Pallister in April when the carbon tax announcement was made.
At a price of $25 per ton, Manitoba’s minister of Sustainable Development, Rochelle Squires, said the cost is half the amount mandated by the federal government giving the province the second lowest carbon price in the country by 2022.
The MTA has been actively trying to persuade the government to reconsider how they allocated the carbon tax levy.
As Shaw points out, the Manitoba Green Action Centre has even contacted the association to say it prefers the MTA’s environmental plan over the provincial government’s.
“Yes, the Green Action Centre and the Manitoba Trucking Association are partnering on an editorial in the (Winnipeg) Free Press condemning the province’s environmental program,” said Shaw. “That’s how nuts this is here in Manitoba.”
Published in the May 30 issue of the Free Press, the collaborative editorial says in part, “Failing to use the carbon tax revenues collected to support much-needed initiatives such as (the GrEEn Trucking fuel efficiency initiative) risks having the Manitoba headquarters of our trucking industry move to other provinces where such subsides are already government policy.”
“You’re collecting the carbon tax revenues,” said Shaw, “give them back to industry and Manitobans for efficiency programing.”