President's Message - December 14, 2023

December 14, 2023

Since the end of the pandemic, Canada has been grappling with the rising cost of living. I know it's had an effect on our Citizens, which is why your Red River Métis Government introduced the Métis Cost of Living Supplement Program in October of last year, and extended it to March of next year.

Federal and provincial governments also know that the cost of living has impacted many Canadians, which is why political statements about taxes and rebates are frequently hitting the headlines. Carbon tax has been a significant conversation in the last few months.

Why does it matter?

Fossil fuels include natural gas, diesel, coal, and oil that is refined to become gasoline. In large amounts, carbon dioxide directly affects the environment. In fact, carbon dioxide is considered one of the most important factors in climate change today.

Countries across the globe are working toward reducing the amount of carbon dioxide they contribute to the world - this is often referred to as reducing your carbon footprint.

As we know from our Elders and our own traditions, each of us is part of the environment, and when the land, water, and air are suffering, people and wildlife also suffer. Our traditional wisdom teaches us that we must be good stewards and ensure that we look after our environment, so that our future generations can enjoy the beauty and bounty of nature.

I commend our Minister of Environment and Climate Change, JoAnne Remillard, for her ongoing attention to this important portfolio, as well as her active participation in international meetings about the environment, like COP environmental summits. We have also introduced the Métis Environmental Leaders of Tomorrow (MELT) program, to support our Youth as they grow into climate protectors and good stewards of the land.

What is the federal carbon tax?

One of the ways that countries are working to manage their carbon footprint is through taxation. It's considered one effective way of tackling it, because it applies to nearly everything we do. Steadily increasing carbon taxation puts the onus on industry to be responsible and find new and innovative ways to produce goods and offer services that reduce their carbon footprint. For example, since 2022, Canada's carbon tax has increased from $50 per tonne of greenhouse gas emissions to $65 per tonne. This tax will only continue to rise.

Taxing carbon emission brings revenue to governments, which can then be put to use to find ways to support individual citizens and other institutions as they take steps to reduce their carbon footprint. This includes the carbon tax rebate program for families, to help manage the cost.

This sounds like great news for families. We can also see that gas prices are currently going down, and we expect to see the cost of groceries start to stabilize in the coming weeks and months. However, the carbon tax is not going away.

You may have heard that some federal politicians are advocating for a freeze on the natural gas carbon tax. It sounds like a good plan. But consider the fact that Canada has also been providing a rebate to help families move away from fossil fuels. What would happen to this rebate if the carbon tax was frozen or cut? Would families receive a reduced rebate, or none at all?

The reality is, Manitoba is rich in hydro energy. Harnessing the power of water through dams to produce electricity means that the vast majority of electricity produced in Manitoba is virtually emission-free. The proposed tax freeze would save the average household $58 - just 16 cents a day.

In 2023, every Manitoba household will receive a carbon tax rebate of anywhere between $528 to $1,058, depending on their household size and location. That means an average Manitoba household will receive approximately $800 in rebates in 2023, delivered in quarterly instalments of around $200.

If the carbon tax freeze were to take place, people wouldn't have to pay the estimated $58 increase in 2023 for natural gas on their bill. However, the push to freeze carbon tax costs doesn't address what happens to the rebate. It's logical to think that if there is no taxation, there is no rebate, but the politicians pushing this idea aren't being clear about that. The savings households would reap in reduced natural gas costs is less than eight per cent of the current tax rebate of $800 an average Manitoba household is receiving. If this is the case, there doesn't appear to be much benefit to families in the tax freeze.

These are the details and questions behind the headlines that must be answered for Red River Métis Citizens and all Canadians. Your Red River Métis Government wants to be sure you're equipped with all the information about carbon taxes and rebates, so that when you hear politicians from all levels of government speaking about them, you understand how these decisions will impact your family.

How your Red River Métis Government is helping

Your Red River Métis Government understands that costs have risen for all of us, in all sectors, including the cost of heat. The good news is that we can see that gas prices are currently going down, and we expect to see the cost of groceries start to stabilize in the coming weeks and months.

To help our families during this challenging time, we have spent over $8 million to support our eligible Citizens with the Métis Cost of Living Supplement since October of 2022, which we've extended into March of 2024. The program has been well received by thousands and thousands of our Citizens, and we're pleased to see that it's made a difference.

Your Red River Métis Government is contributing to carbon reduction, with support from Canada, by undertaking a retrofit of our Home Office to reduce the carbon footprint of the building. This includes solar panels and energy efficient windows. We also frequently partner with Efficiency Manitoba to help our Citizens find ways to reduce the carbon footprint of their homes.

With an additional $3.1 million in funding from Canada, and a $1.7-million investment by the MMF, we are building 26 Level 3A vehicle charging stations across Manitoba, which can charge cars in a half hour, as well as another 24 Level 2 charging stations for apartments and malls.

Your Red River Métis Government has also made the commitment to plant two million trees across the Red River Métis Homeland through the "Make Our Homeland Green Again" initiative. Trees play an important role in the environment, but each tree needs five to 10 years from planting to start being able to help fight climate change. But every tree planted helps combat climate change and helps remove harmful pollutants from the atmosphere to improve overall air quality. In 20 years, with the help of Citizens, we will have planted 50 million trees in our yards, in parks, business green spaces, and in forested areas. We look forward to all of us working together to reach this goal and to help restore balance in the environment.

I want to encourage our Citizens to participate in this tree planting initiative, which is why we'll be holding a contest to see how well these trees have grown over the years - it won't be a short contest, but the prizes will be big ones, so make sure you keep an eye on our social media and listen for updates on my weekly Métis Hour report.

Until we gather again, I send my well wishes to Citizens who are honouring our traditions by harvesting from our Homeland to feed family and community. Stay safe and remember - your Red River Métis Government has your back.

I also offer my prayers to all our families, Citizens, friends, and neighbours, and my deepest condolences to those who have been caused to grieve.



View More

B300-150 Henry Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3B 0J7

^ * ( &

Métis Nation Database
Unite Interactive