Hometowns deserve share of Cannabis Excise Tax
In December 2017, the federal and provincial governments agreed that provinces would receive 75 per cent of the cannabis excise tax revenues instead of a 50-50 split. These additional dollars were to support municipalities. But nearly one and a half years later, and more than six months since the legalization of cannabis, the provincial government has failed to pass on a portion of the cannabis excise tax to Saskatchewan’s hometowns.
Local governments are the order of government closest to daily lives, and as a result, Saskatchewan’s hometowns are on the front lines of cannabis legalization, controlling cannabis production, sales, and consumption.
Municipal bylaws regulate zoning for producers and retail facilities, and where and when cannabis can be consumed publicly.
Our bylaw enforcement officers and building inspectors are the ones ensuring those growing cannabis in their homes are adhering to electrical codes and requirements.
And our police and contracted RCMP services are undertaking increased enforcement activities around public consumption and impaired driving.
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities estimates that municipalities are facing new annual costs related to cannabis of up to $9.50 per resident. This is on top of everyday policing, fire, and bylaw enforcement costs that our hometowns already pay to ensure the safety of residents.
Giving hometowns 33 per cent of total cannabis excise tax revenues collected in the province would help handle local costs related to cannabis.
Municipalities recognize that the province is also facing costs. But the provincial government has the ability to recuperate costs through retail application fees, six per cent PST on every gram of cannabis, and the downloading of enforcement costs to municipalities. Municipalities, who are mandated to have balanced operating budgets, have the options of either downloading the costs to residents or reducing services.
The Federal-provincial-territorial Agreement on Cannabis Taxation, the agreement giving provinces their increased share of cannabis tax revenue, recognized the need for sustained cooperation between federal, provincial, and municipal governments and obligated provinces to work with municipalities according to shared responsibilities toward legalization. Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec have acknowledged their obligations and introduced tax sharing plans.
It is time for the Saskatchewan government to honour its commitment to work with municipalities and share the cannabis excise tax with Saskatchewan’s hometowns.
Gordon Barnhart is President of the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association, the voice of Saskatchewan’s hometowns. Email: sander[email protected]booster.com Mail:
30 – 4th Ave. N.W.
Swift Current, SK
Small businesses have gone a full month without information about the grants and rebates promised to them under the federal carbon tax in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) has been asking the government for details about the grants and rebates for months without answer.
“Since April 1, the government has had time to allocate millions to big companies like Loblaws for retrofits, but small firms have heard nothing about the sliver of funding that was to be available to them,” said Dan Kelly, CFIB’S president. “Small firms are already paying the tax and are reporting they’ll have to absorb a majority of the new costs. This continued lack of clarity is adding to the unfairness of the situation.”
Nearly half of the revenues of the carbon tax will come from small businesses, but they can expect to receive just seven per cent back in the form of yet-to-be-determined grants and rebates.
“Not only are we concerned that small firms have been given zero information on the rebates they have been promised, past programs targeted at small business have been incredibly poorly designed,” added Kelly. “We hope the government doesn’t model the small business rebate program after the Low Carbon Economy Fund – the one that provided $12 million to Loblaws.”
While the Low Carbon Economy Fund was open to firms with as few as one employee, it required a minimum spend of $2 million for a business to be eligible.
“It is ridiculous to advertise a program to small business owners that requires them to spend millions,” Kelly said.
CFIB is asking the government to cancel the federal carbon tax and work with the four provinces on approaches to climate change that do not negatively affect small businesses, particularly before any consideration is given to expanding it to Alberta. If the government is intent on keeping the carbon tax as is, it must provide grants and rebates equal to the contributions that small businesses will pay into the tax. A majority of small firms (84 per cent) say they are already taking steps to reduce their environmental impact.
“As things stand, small businesses are feeling like the cash cow helping to fund the rebates, exemptions and grants for everyone else,” added CFIB’S Marilyn Braun-pollon, Vice-president, Prairie & Agri-business. “If we all share the responsibility for addressing climate change, it is deeply unfair to pass the bill to SMES.”