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Farmers frustrated with federal decision to move forward with carbon tax increase amid pandemic

Farmers frustrated with federal decision to move forward with carbon tax increase amid pandemic
WATCH: Farmers, grocers will have to pay carbon tax increase.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the government will move forward with its plan to increase the carbon tax to $30 per tonne from $20 on April 1.

The statement comes after he didn’t offer a clear answer to reporters during a press conference on March 27.

READ MORE: APAS seeks real time data to support Saskatchewan farmers impacted by coronavirus

“We know that we need to do things to make sure that we’re both supporting families through ordinary times and through difficult times and moving forward on continuing the fight against climate change, which remains even at a time of immediate crisis and pandemic,” Trudeau said.

The prime minister added the rebate will offer Canadians another stream of income, as many are unable to work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Farmers in Western Canada have been fighting the carbon tax since it was implemented.

The Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan (APAS) said farmers lost about eight per cent of their income from the tax last year.

READ MORE: Farm income to fall by up to 12% due to the carbon tax: APAS

“We have to pay that tax and there is no way to pass that along through our commodity prices. We’re on a world market and you can’t add two per cent on the price of your wheat because of carbon tax,” APAS president Todd Lewis said.

However, it isn’t clear how the price of oil will play a factor on farmers income in 2020.

On March 30, oil prices fell eight per cent.

READ MORE: Oil price plunges to 2002 lows amid global coronavirus shutdown

Producers are frustrated by the decision given the current state of the economy.

“To raise a tax when we really don’t know what is going to happen … you know, look at what has happened in the last two weeks,” Jason Hennes said.

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The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) said the bump is a funny way to say thank you to essential businesses like grocers and farmers.

“As governments work to help Canadians get through economic challenges, minimizing the tax burden must be a central element,” federal director Aaron Wudrick said.

B.C.’s provincial government is delaying its bump from $40 to $45, which was planned to change this week.

The Supreme Court of Canada postponed Saskatchewan’s carbon tax appeal, which was originally set for last week.

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Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.