WINNIPEG -- Premier Brian Pallister said he will lower the PST to six per cent and reintroduce a made-in-Manitoba, $25-per-tonne carbon tax as of July 1, 2020.

According to the province, this will save Manitoba families and businesses more than $1 billion over the next five years, compared to the federal carbon tax.

The premier said the federal government wouldn’t work with the province as a “true partner” to fight climate change, so he has “no choice but to act now to protect Manitobans from the rising federal carbon tax they are bringing this year.”

“Ottawa has provided special exceptions and exemptions to many other provinces but refused to consider Manitoba’s significant clean hydro investments,” the premier said.

According to the province, the average Manitoba household will save $200 in 2022 from Manitoba’s flat Green Levy, which will add up to more than $700 over the next five years. The premier noted 100 per cent of the Green Levy will go back to Manitobans.

Pallister also said lowering the PST will save residents $325 million each year, saving the average household $359 in 2022.

“Unlike the federal government’s rising carbon tax, our flat made-in-Manitoba Green Levy will return all of the money and more to Manitobans with the second-lowest PST in Canada,” said Pallister.

The plan will also reduce emissions from the province’s largest industrial emitters through an output-based carbon pricing system based on the Green Levy of $25-per-tonne. The government said this will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least two megatonnes over the five-year carbon savings account period set in legislation.

“Manitobans know tackling climate change is important and we are already doing our part by investing billions in clean, green hydro,” said Pallister, noting the Green Levy will replace the federal backstop carbon tax.

Together with our hydro investments, the highest clean fuel standards in the country announced in January, plus additional measures we are taking, Manitoba’s carbon emissions will be reduced by more than any previous government. Our plan is better for the environment, better for the economy, and better for children and grandchildren.”

In a statement, Jake Ayre, president of the Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP), said members have been calling on the government to exempt the costs of heating barns and drying grains from the carbon tax because farmers have to do these tasks for successful operations.

“We have been supportive of using revenue for on-farm projects that will benefit farmers in their role as environmental stewards. A reduction in the provincial sales tax, however, will not have the same benefit to farmers,” he said.

Ayre said KAP is concerned about a move toward an “unclear tax structure” when farmers are already dealing with uncertainties. 

“The administration of a federal-provincial carbon tax structure will create additional red tape when it comes to how farmers interact with government, and we know from our own work that separating the carbon tax charges from natural gas and propane bills is not a straightforward process.”