With gas prices hitting all-time highs in Alberta, NDP Energy Critic Kathleen Ganley is calling on the provincial government to renew its suspension of the provincial gas tax and to audit gas stations to ensure savings are being passed on to Albertans.
On Monday, according to GasBuddy.com, prices at the pump for unleaded fuel averaged $1.81 per litre in Calgary, with some stations charging as much as $1.91. The average price at the pump was up 2.2 cents over Sunday.
The province froze the 13-cents-per-litre provincial gas tax at the beginning of April, leading to a drop in average prices in the city from $1.67 to $1.56, and said it would review the program quarterly. The tax freeze is set to thaw on July 1 and Ganley wants to see it extended to Oct. 1.
“That should be a no-brainer,” she said. “The price certainly hasn’t come down and there is no indication that it will do so in the near term.”
The provincial tax is completely lifted when West Texas Intermediate is above $90 per barrel and is partly lifted at $80 per barrel. As of 3 p.m. on Monday, WTI was at $118.92.
Despite the record prices for fuelling up, Alberta still has the lowest gas prices in the country. Dan McTeague — president of Canadians for Affordable Energy and forecaster for fuel monitoring site gaswizard.ca — is forecasting every other major centre in the country to jump above $2.06 on Tuesday while Edmonton will jump to $1.89 and Calgary to $1.91.
Justin Brattinga, press secretary for Premier Jason Kenney, defended the province’s actions to this point.
“Alberta’s government is doing more to ease the inflation burden than any other government in Canada,” he said in an emailed statement. “It’s hypocritical for the NDP to call for lower gas prices when they continue to stand behind Justin Trudeau’s plan to quadruple the federal carbon tax.”
‘Still going’: Some RVers say high gasoline prices could keep them closer to home
From grocers to trucking, Alberta businesses struggle with rising cost of fuel
McTeague backed up this sentiment noting no other province has lifted provincial taxes to this level. Newfoundland and Labrador recently reduced their levy by eight cents a litre while New Brunswick has instituted a one-time rebate for low-income individuals ($250) and families ($450).
The former Liberal MP shot down the idea of an audit as an expensive, redundant process that can be figured out with a few quick calculations, using the cost of wholesale gas and figuring in other price impacts from refinery costs to taxes and transportation.
“The numbers don’t lie; you don’t need an auditor tell you that; Grade One math usually does it for you,” he said.
He pointed to federal energy policy that has pushed the cost of gas up 11.7 cents through carbon tax and GST, and also hampered the country’s ability to produce gas at a level to take the pressure off of the global demand.
McTeague said the federal government is entrenched in its environmental beliefs and does not see them moving off of their policy, regardless of the impacts on the cost of living and inflation. He said the mentality has put greater strains on global demand and has had other repercussions.
“All you’ve done here is empowered Russia to attack Ukraine because we didn’t have enough oil in the world,” he said. “And you walk down this path that you continue to support of more and more constriction of our energy supplies, which could easily have displaced what Russia has.”
He said this is policy that goes back to blocking the construction of the Northern Gateway and the Energy East pipelines which McTeague said could have put an additional two million barrels of oil on the global market. This would have dropped the price of oil and simultaneously raised the value of the Canadian dollar.
“We’ve hog-tied our oil sector, prevented it from selling more oil at a time in which the world desperately needs Canadian oil,” said McTeague. “The trendies have found a way to basically block and corner and lock up our energy resources.”
McTeague is not sure how much higher gas will go, but with the carbon tax set to increase from $50 per tonne to $170 by 2030 and with the federal government preparing to unveil an additional levy on fuel providers (the Clean Fuel Standard ), it will continue to increase.
Gas price forecast (in cents) for Tuesday:
- Calgary — 191.1
- Edmonton — 189.9
- Toronto — 214.9
- Montreal — 223.9
- Vancouver — 236.9
- Regina — 206.9
- Saskatoon — 206.9
- Winnipeg — 207.9
- St. John’s — 223.4
- Victoria — 235.9
— Source: gaswizard.ca
Average gas prices (in cents) by province on Monday
- Canada — 207.6
- Alberta — 181.5
- B.C. — 222.4
- Saskatchewan — 196.5
- Manitoba — 201.5
- Ontario — 210.4
- Quebec — 218.3
- Nfld. — 217.8
- PEI — 213.4
- New Brunswick — 208.1
- Nova Scotia — 209.0
— Source: gasbuddy.ca