Carbon tax threatens trucking jobs, says Ontario premier

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford says a federal carbon tax will chase trucking jobs from the province. (Photo by John G. Smith)

CAMBRIDGE, Ont. – Ontario Premier Doug Ford focused on the trucking industry today as he continued to sound the alarm about a federally imposed carbon tax, which takes hold on April 1.

Diesel prices will increase by 5.37 cents per liter this year and 13.41 cents by 2022. Combined with HST, this will add more than $350 million to the price of the province’s heavy-duty transportation in the coming year. By 2022, the figure could be as high as $870 million.

The province estimates the tax, effective April 1, will cost Ontario’s longhaul trucking sector about $750 million between 2019 and 2022. For a tractor-trailer consuming 88,000 liters of fuel per year, it translates into $3,500 in additional operating costs for 2019 and approximately $11,200 by 2022.

“A carbon tax will make no difference to the environment,” Ford said, against the backdrop of a Challenger Motor Freight facility. “A carbon tax will also chase jobs out of Ontario – manufacturing jobs, small  business jobs, and trucking jobs.”

His Conservative government has already scrapped a cap and trade system in the province, trimming gasoline prices about 4.3 cents per liter in the process.

“You can be for jobs, or you can be for a carbon tax, but you can’t be for both,” Ford said. “The risk of a carbon tax recession is real. Just think about it for a second. Every single time a trucker fills up a tank, the carbon tax will take a bite out of their employer’s pockets. That’s money that could be used to hire new workers or upgrade your fleets, or it’s a cost that will be passed on to the customers through higher prices on the shelf because that’s what a carbon tax does.”

“The trucking industry is dominated by small businesses and competes on very tight margins, with operating ratios in the 0.94 range or higher. Consequently, the government of Ontario is correct in its belief the trucking industry will face challenges in absorbing rising fuel costs and going forward this issue will be a major point of discussion between carriers and their customers,” said Ontario Trucking Association president Stephen Laskowski, on hand for the announcement.

“Our industry like so many others is impacted by the federal carbon tax that will make fuel more expensive and therefore make shipping more expensive for our customers,” added Challenger Motor Freight CEO Dan Einwechter.

Rod Phillips, minister of the environment, conservation, and parks, referred to Challenger as an example of ways that fleets can reduce emissions independent of a tax. “They’ve improved fuel economy, reduced harmful emissions, and are doing their part to work toward a clean environment,” he said, citing the use of automated transmissions, auxiliary power units to combat idling, and targeted driver training.

In addition to diesel prices, the federal tax will add five cents per liter for Ontario gasoline when including the HST, rising to 7.5 cents in 2020, 10 cents in 2021, and 12.5 cents in April 22. Natural gas prices will increase 4.4 cents per cubic meter at the outset, rising to 11.1 cents in April 2022.

The provincial government says it will be able to reduce provincial emissions to levels 30% below 2005 levels by 2030 without imposing a carbon tax. Current levels are said to be 22% lower than 2005.

Ontario has joined Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, and Manitoba in the fight against the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act, saying that it’s unconstitutional.

Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna was quick to counter the Ontario position.

“Climate change is real and it’s happening now. The more Conservative politicians deny the importance of taking real action on climate change, the bigger the debt they leave for our kids. If you don’t have a serious plan to fight climate change, you don’t have a plan for the economy or for Canada’s future,” she said in a prepared statement. “Conservative politicians like Andrew Scheer and Doug Ford want to take us back to the [Prime Minister Stephen] Harper days and make it free to pollute again.”

This was the second time Ford has visited Challenger Motor Freight in recent months. He was at the facility in late December for a briefing on trucking industry issues that included Transport Minister Jeff Yurek and Todd Smith, minister of economic development, job creation, and trade.







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John G. Smith is Newcom Media's vice-president - editorial, and the editorial director of its trucking publications -- including Today's Trucking,, and Transport Routier. The award-winning journalist has covered the trucking industry since 1995.

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  • Hi. Doug Ford is 100 per cent right. A carbon tax does nothing for the environment. Canada’s emissions are 1.4 per cent of the world’s emissions.A carbon tax will wreck the economy. Australia had a carbon tax and got rid of it because it was wrecking their economy. The whole world must be in on this to make a difference. If this carbon tax goes through everything in price will go up.

  • Hi am in Alberta since last march i had 2 employers close doors next employer cut wages to 1980s level wish gas ,rent,food gould go back to the 80s thank you carbon tax Rachel i will remember you on election day .Government needs to have taxes indexed to cost of living if taxes rise should wages.Governments cant seem to figure out that if cost of production is to high how in the name of god can we sell our products and services on the world market .Why not put a carbon tax on goods from China the bigest carbon producer of all never happen but why not no money in it all these climate changers all have an agenda to feather there own nest or the agenda of our competitors .

  • The federal government is just gonna use the to help other countries, as for taking care our country forget it, carbon tax is the biggest farst going keep voting liberals and country is doomed!!

  • Im not saying climate change isn’t real or not happening, but what kind of difference are we really going to make when we pick up a piece of garbage and someone on the other side of the world drops 2 pieces on the ground? We can make up all the costly solutions we want to make us sleep better a night but in the end it will become a long term cost for very very short term to no results. I would much rather put this money into my retirement…..

  • Canada should join the USA then we wouldn’t have to put up with all these lies and bullshit from the federal government.
    P. S.
    When will I have to start wearing a turbon, there taking over, I use to be proud to be a Canadian but not anymore were a thing of the past

  • Raise The rates to modern day standards,we need regulation to stop the scabs from working for free and dropping rates for people that actually know how business works,then it will account for things like this……Can’t run a truck for free or just to pay for fuel and taxes what’s the point ?!

  • You realize everything Ford says is a lie or drastic over exaggeration, right? Or are you just his typical gullible followers that don’t care if he lies as long as you get what you want?

  • Hello this will encourage trucking companies to go with more electric city and regional tractors where no carbon tax will be paid plus rebates on buying electric vehicles once more charging stations are put in place

  • While i agree that carbon tax will cost jobs. Challenger managment is sniffing glue if they believe what they said in the article. 90s and early 2000s trucks hauling 54-64t got 5-6mpg and those haulinh 39.5t and less got 6-8 mpg. Todays emission trucks get 3.5mpg on 54t+ on a good day and 39.5t and less might see 6-7mpg.
    They use more.fuel and the carbon imprint of an emmisions truck is 5x that of pre emissions trucks. We need to stop looking at what comes out of the tail pipe and.look at the whole cost. Not to mention the reliability of emmisions truck is sorely lacking. My 1995 475hp fld 120 slightly modified gets upto 12 mpg and with 63.5t on board will take a 8% grade at 40km/hr while a new 600hp only goes 20 km/hr .
    Also challenger and companys like it pay 80-100k for a truck that independent contractors like myself pay 175-250k for the same truck. The technology is there to get upto 20 mpg on big rigs that can be converted cheaply and easily that relates to less than 25% of 2000 emissions values exceeding all goals set by goverments and scientist. Climate change is real and here but the “solutions” are fake and only done to show face.

    • Johnathan Shipton, for your information the truck I drive at Challenger was just shy of $170,000 , these big fleets do not buy trucks for 80 to 100 grand (dealerships dont even get them that cheap) , and I doubt very much that you paid anywhere near $250,000 for your truck , even our 4 axle tri drives didnt cost that much (and out trucks are fully loaded with owner op specs right down to the leather interior)

  • Absolutely I’m owner operator my cost today to run daily runs about 1000dollars a every 2weeks 2000in month

  • Well Mr. Priminister, is this carbon tax you have imposed on our country meant to help the environment, or just to line your parties pockets like a stealthy thief. Our industry over the years has worked hard in making a healthier environment for the future. This industry already has enough on it’s plate trying to make it better for all. This carbon tax will put many men and women out of job’s and bankrupt the very lives they have grown to love and use to make better lives for their families. You talk about creating job’s, but you impose these taxes that will destroy job’s and increase poverty. For the love of god, please take a long hard look at the caos you create everyday when you try to come up with ideas to eliminate this countries debt that was created by past government official’s such as your father. As a Canadian I stand firm on saying enough is enough.

  • Ford is like a used car salesman, he will say anything. He’s a politicians’ politician, so people who want to buy his line can do so. He’s already lied about his cutting jobs in education and other sectors, so I’m not sure I look to him for solutions or answers.

    The reality is that climate change has real costs, particularly events like wildfires, flooding, and droughts depending on region. There are costs that gov’t has to absorb, private insurance usually goes broke during mass events and doesn’t pay out. Gov’t is always stuck with the tab. So there is a need for some type of revenue enhancements, whether its through a carbon tax or not, to deal with climate change.

    I’m in the middle on carbon taxes: I don’t think they automatically clean up the environment alone, it requires research and development and investment in new technologies. But if carbon taxes can fund gov’t programs to help invest and support R&D and new tech, and fund disaster cleanups when private insurance leaves homeowners without coverage, I can accept a price on carbon. There is a cost.

    And let’s face it, 4 or 5 cents a litre isn’t a big jump. Oil companies jack up fuel prices by 10 or 20 cents in a manner of weeks as it stands today. That’s why I think a carbon tax is barely recognizable, oil companies already price gouge us.