Saskatchewan Government Must Support Electric Vehicles

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Early in Earth Month on Tuesday, April 6th, 2021 the Saskatchewan provincial government introduced their 2021/2022 budget. Included with the budget was a new tax on fully electric vehicles to be applied during SGI insurance registration starting in October, 2021. The reason for this $150 annual tax was indicated to help pay for wear and tear from EV's operating on provincial roads and highways.

Saskatchewan currently has only 403 electric vehicles registered in the province out of an approximate 1,400,000 total vehicles, a laggard within Canada for EV adoption. The previous rebate for low emission vehicles provided by the province ended in 2012 and has not been renewed despite many other provinces and territories such as British Columbia, Quebec, Nova Scotia, PEI and the Yukon still offering such programs. The federal government also offers a rebate program for which recent polling shows a majority support in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. Rebates are helpful as EV battery pack costs continue to fall, eventually expected to allow electric vehicles to reach price parity with gasoline vehicles by the 2023-2025 timeframe. Data shows Saskatchewan has the highest per capita greenhouse gas emissions in Canada with about 15% of emissions attributable to transportation in Saskatchewan.

Despite having much to gain via new electricity sales and an opportunity to further spread out fixed costs, the government owned electric utility SaskPower has not yet invested in fast charging infrastructure for the provincial highways system. This has led to significant gaps in coverage beyond the national Trans-Canada highway, impairing the ability of EV drivers to use the highways and roads in the province. Public and private utilities in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia have all invested in EV fast charging to date. Accessing matching federal dollars and connecting communities for the growing number of EV drivers.

Instead of using precious time in our fight against climate change to introduce first-in-Canada taxes for electric vehicles, the provincial government should instead introduce policies to accelerate EV adoption. We call on the provincial government to delay their proposed tax on electric vehicles until October, 2023 with an intention to review the policy six months prior to that date. Further, the province should direct SaskPower to commit $2Mn per year, $10Mn over the next 5 years on EV fast charging infrastructure in our province.