With the federal government planning to eliminate the heating fuel rebate, the Conservative Party of Canada’s Northern Affairs critic said last week that this has to come to a stop or at least a pause.

A review of Bill 60: An Act to Amend the Petroleum Products and Carbon Tax Act took place in the afternoon on Feb. 14 at the legislative assembly.

Lesa Semmler, MLA of Inuvik Twin Lakes said, “The concern that I have for this is unfit for the North. The biggest concern for this is that we are trying to move away from this diesel fuel consumption, and here we have a lack of alternative energy. In her region, she said many rely on oil for heating their home.

“Suddenly the feds told us that we are not allowed to rebate that. It hurt our Northerners and hurt my region and my community really hard,” said Semmler.

Caroline Wawzonek, as the minister of finance said as of right now, there were too late to do any changes and the federal government is going to increase the carbon taxes unless they decided to walk back, but she is hoping there will be a better system that would work out better for the community

Frieda Martselos, MLA with Thebacha, got some letters from the NWT Chamber of Commerce regard to small business, and she didn’t see anything that were benefit the small business in the north, plus there was already a hit from the pandemic, same thing happened to the senior and Meti communities, people come to her asking about the living expenses hike, and now with the carbon tax proposal.

But there was still nothing from the federal government back about the mediation, even though Martselos believes there should be still room for the territorial government to negotiate with federal government on this bill.

Bill 60 was introduced last fall and is expected to receive a final vote this session for implementation on April 1. The amended bill includes a controversial revision that will remove the home heating fuel rebate.

“My intention is that we should let it go to the federal backstop, let them deal with it and kill the bill.” Jackie Jacobson, MLA with Nunakput said.

The Department of Finance is still working on the program that can help offset the living expenses, but it just needs a bit more time to having more accurate numbers to help them to make that move.

In the end of the review, all MLAs agreed that Bill 60 is still not ready for consideration committee as a whole.

Kaicheng Xin

Kaicheng Xin is a Multimedia Journalist with NNSL Media. You can reach him at kaicheng.xin@nnsl.com

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