Gas prices in Metro Vancouver are likely to hit $2.50 a liter this summer, according to an analyst who forecast the price of $2 a liter as early as October this year, hitting a high of $2,279 for a liter of regular on Saturday.
“It would cost, what, 14 cents a liter more?” Dan McTeague, a former Liberal MP and current president of Canadians for Affordable Energy, asked about Metro Vancouver’s fuel prices. He noted that the summer driving season, which typically drives up fuel prices, has not yet started in Canada or the US.
McTeague suggested a temporary suspension of the carbon tax, or Ottawa to offer energy discounts, noting that rising gas prices have likely given the federal government a tax increase of GST on fuel purchases.
McTeague said increased gas prices are disproportionately affecting lower-income Canadians.
Werner Antweiler, an associate professor at UBC’s Sauder School of Business, agreed, calling fuel prices “elastic” since most people are still filling their tank, whether it costs $100 or $150.
“They’re complaining, but they’re still driving,” he said.
In addition, many others who may be struggling with fuel prices still have to work in some way, and transit simply isn’t an option for many, Antweiler said.
“People don’t skip driving because of the fuel prices because they have to go to work,” says McTeague. “What they skip is food.”
He suggested that the provincial government temporarily abolish the motor fuel tax, which is added to every gallon of fuel sold in the province.
BC Liberal leader Kevin Falcon has said the same, calling for “a temporary suspension of all charges the provincial government imposes on fuel prices for at least a three-month period to give people a critical break.”
“I don’t think (the NDP) government fully realizes how much a $200-$300 a week increase in fuel costs affects a family,” he said.
On Friday, Prime Minister John Horgan called cutting taxes a “short-sighted plan” that would provide only a “greatest amount” of relief.
He said the finance minister was asked to put forward a “basket of initiatives” to tackle rising fuel costs, noting that this was “not a short-term issue”.
Until then, he encouraged residents to cut travel costs.
“We need to do that by all taking the steps we can to reduce the amount we spend and also make sure we work together. If you go to the grocery store and you know you have a neighbor who needs something, ask if you can pick it up for them and reduce the number of trips we make,” Horgan said.
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Falcon criticized the Prime Minister’s comments, noting that they would not help a contractor who has to haul “13 feet of PVC pipes.”
“I recognize that we are moving away from fossil fuels,” he said. “In the meantime, we can’t ignore the fact that the vast majority of the public still has to rely on gasoline-powered vehicles to try and get by to meet their families and their business needs.”
With a file on Joe Ruttle.
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