The Manitoba government says it is receiving mixed messages from the federal government about whether $67-million in funding for clean-energy projects is still available.
Sustainable Development Minister Rochelle Squires says she fears Ottawa may pull that money now that Manitoba has scrapped plans to bring in a carbon tax.
Ms. Squires says that would be disappointing, because the $67-million is needed to reduce carbon emissions and is separate from any carbon tax.
A deal in principle was announced in February on cash from the national Low Carbon Economy Leadership Fund.
A spokeswoman for Environment Minister Catherine McKenna will only say that no agreement on the money has been finalized.
Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister announced last year he would charge a lower carbon tax than the federal government demanded but decided last month not to charge any tax at all because Ottawa was threatening to impose its own.
“There’s a variety of messages that are being sent from Ottawa that the $67-million … is under review,” Ms. Squires said Friday.
“This money is about fighting climate change. It shouldn’t be fighting over taxes.”
The federal government has refused to offer similar funding to Saskatchewan, which has said from the start it will not impose a carbon tax. Ottawa has also put Ontario’s portion under review since Premier Doug Ford cancelled a provincial cap-and-trade program.
Ms. McKenna’s office said Friday negotiations with Manitoba are ongoing. The $67-million is Manitoba’s share of $1.4-billion available nationwide.
“Officials are engaged in discussions but there’s still no agreement between our governments,” press secretary Caroline Theriault said.
Manitoba’s Opposition NDP Leader Wab Kinew urged the province and Ottawa to reach a deal.
“Both sides have to do better on the environment here,” Mr. Kinew said. “We don’t want the possibility of a deal falling through just because the premier is throwing stones at the prime minister and now there’s retaliatory threats here.”
Also on Friday, the federal government said it expects to spend nearly $1.5-billion helping small- and medium-sized businesses adapt to carbon pricing over the next five years – but it will not exempt them from the new carbon tax regime.