OTTAWA – The federal government has unveiled its proposed carbon pricing legislation, spelling out how it plans to regulate and enforce a price on greenhouse gases.

The bill includes the rates that will apply to various types of polluting gasses, as well as provides details on the registration, reporting periods, rebates, payment, and penalties surrounding the incoming carbon price system. Once passed, it will apply to the provinces and territories who do not have their own carbon pricing plan, or that have a plan that isn’t up to federal standards.

"Although the term 'carbon pricing' is often used, the aim of the legislative proposal is to put a price all greenhouse gases that play a significant role in trapping heat in the atmosphere," the explanatory notes state.

Jointly brought forward by Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna and Minister of Finance Bill Morneau, the proposed legislation—Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act— spans more than 230 pages, coupled with nearly 130 pages of explanatory notes. It’s expected the bill will be introduced in the House of Commons once Parliament resumes at the end of the month.

The bill spells out what the excess emissions charges will be, from 2018 to 2022. The price starts at $10 per carbon tonne, and rises by $10 each year, up to $50 for each excess tonne by 2022.

"This is not a cash grab. All the revenues go back to the provinces. It’s up to them to decide how they’re going to support consumers. Many of them are giving money back in forms of rebates," McKenna told CTV Power Play host Don Martin.

Through this bill, the government could offer rebate cheques directly to Canadians in provinces that don’t have their own carbon pricing plan.

At the end of 2017, four provinces had a carbon price plan already in place: carbon taxes or levies in Alberta and B.C., and a cap-and-trade system in Ontario and Quebec. Other provinces, have expressed opposition to the idea of a carbon tax, including Saskatchewan, which has vowed to take the federal government to court over the plan.

McKenna said the proposed bill was formed with the consultations of the business community, environmentalists, and the provinces.

"You can reduce pollution, which is what Canadians want, and at the same time grow your economy," McKenna said.

The legislation includes the potential for efficient industrial facilities to receive surplus credits if they emit less than the limit.

McKenna acknowledged that competitiveness is an issue, considering the different environmental standards south of the border.

"If you’re best in class you won’t pay, if you don’t, the incentive is there for you to pay less by having clean solutions," she said.

Though, Conservative environment critic Ed Fast isn’t sold. He views the competitiveness challenge with the United States as a "major" issue in the coming years.

"The Trudeau government appears to be oblivious to these challenges as it layers additional regulations on top of a federal carbon tax which will discourage capital investments in the Canadian economy," Fast said in an emailed statement.

The legislation also details the rates that will apply on applicable types of gases each year between 2018 and 2022. For example:

  • Aviation turbo fuel: $0.0258 a litre in 2018, up to $ 0.1244 a litre by 2022;
  • Butane: $0.0178 a litre in 2018, up to $0.0890 a litre by 2022;
  • Gasoline: $0.0221 a litre, up to 0.1105 a litre by 2022;
  • Marketable natural gas: $0.0196 a cubic metre, up to $0.0979 a cubic metre by 2022; and
  • High heat value coal: $22.52 a tonne, up to $112.58 a tonne by 2022.

In a December, 2017 interview with The Canadian Press, McKenna said that provinces will have until the end of 2018 to submit their own carbon pricing plans before the national price is imposed.