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Saskatchewan electric vehicle owners hold rally opposing new provincial tax

The Saskatchewan government’s recent decision to tax electric vehicles prompted a rally in Saskatoon on Saturday.

In the 2021-22 budget, the government introduced a new road use fee of $150 paid annually for electric vehicle owners. In their reasoning, the government stated this will ensure all road users contribute to road maintenance and replacement.

The government added that this tax is an effort to improve “tax fairness” noting that electric vehicles “contribute to wear and tear on provincial roadways, but because they do not consume traditional fuels, they are not contributing to highway maintenance through the provincial fuel tax.”

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Electric vehicle owners and advocacy group SaskEV’s board members gathered in a Rotary Park parking lot before a procession through downtown Saskatoon. Roughly a dozen electric vehicle car owners took part in the rally.

Jason Cruickshank, president of SaskEV, said owners don’t understand why the province wants to tax electric vehicles at a time when other provinces and the federal government are offering incentives to increase electric vehicle ownership.

Cruickshank said there are currently 403 electric vehicles in Saskatchewan.

“It’s only going to raise $60,000 (a year),” Cruickshank said about the tax.

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He added that the provincial government compared its new tax to one that was introduced in California last year, but that state has nearly 70,000 electric vehicles on the road and “significant” charging stations on the road.

“Here, we really only have charging infrastructure on the Trans Canada Highway,” Cruickshank said.

He said rally members were also hoping to raise awareness about electric vehicles.

“We’re concerned about the signal that this is sending to drivers in the province,” he said.

Cruickshank said at the same time an electric vehicle tax was introduced in California, a study came out that found these types of fees can potentially reduce sales of electric vehicles by 10 to 24 per cent.

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“We’re really nervous about this, adding another headwind for people to consider electric vehicles in the province,” Cruickshank said.

The new fee comes into effect Oct. 1 and will be payable through SGI at the time of registration.

–with files from Roberta Bell

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