As predicted, B.C. gas prices set another all-time record on Saturday, with some stations in Metro Vancouver advertising gas for 227.9 cents per litre.
Gas price analyst Dan McTeague, the president of Canadians for Affordable Energy, said on Thursday that he expected prices to rise 11 cents by the weekend, hitting the 227.9 price seen Saturday.
He predicts the price will go up six cents on Sunday to 233.9 per litre.
“It’s very much a sign of where I think we’re going to be at least for the foreseeable future. As we head into the summer driving season, which, for all intents and purposes, hasn’t really begun until next week and the week after in the United States,” McTeague explained.
To offer B.C. drivers a bit of a break for high prices, Premier John Horgan announced a $110 rebate for most drivers insured in the province. Some residents will see their rebate arrive by direct deposit this month, others will receive a cheque in June.
The BC Liberals are calling for immediate financial relief for drivers.
They propose temporarily freezing the provincial gas taxes; providing a one-time rebate through the Climate Action Tax Credit, which would be issued July 5; and suspend a 25-cent so-called “hidden import” tax on gas brought to B.C. from Alberta.
“We could see some substantial changes to prices almost overnight if the government had any will to actually bring forward any type of short-term inflationary measures,” said Peter Milobar, official opposition critic for finance.
“People are really struggling right now. They need help. They don’t need more empty words from the premier.”
But the premier said temporarily getting rid of taxes is not the answer.
“Removing taxes that are put in place to build infrastructure for transportation – whether it be transit, roads or bridges – is short-sighted,” Horgan said.
“The impact of the pump is not about taxes, the impact is inflation as a result of aggression and destabilizing of a market. And you can’t solve that by just taking a penny or two here,” he said, referring to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The premier suggests people find other ways to move around.
“I encourage people to think before you hop in the car, do you need to make that trip? Is there a way you can do it with a neighbour or someone who’s going by?” he suggested.
Milobar said the premier’s comment is out of touch with reality, adding some industries require fuel for work.
“It’s not that simple. People have been adjusting their driving habits for several months now,” the finance critic said. “If you are in any type of work at all that relies on transportation – the taxi industry, you name it – you’re getting hammered right now. Let alone trying to just get yourself to work or your family around. So it’s a very dismissive comment by the premier.”
Since the cost of fuel first rose to more than $2 per litre in Metro Vancouver back in March, there’s been little relief in sight.
Experts and B.C.’s premier have largely blamed the Russian invasion of Ukraine for a trickle-down impact leading to the surging prices.
One energy expert told CTV News earlier this month there’s another major factor at play.
“The main cause for this is refineries,” said Vijay Muralidharan, senior analyst for Kalibrate Canada.
“Summer driving season (in the U.S.) … de facto means that refineries are going to charge a premium to produce gasoline.”
A carbon tax increase also took effect in B.C. in April, bringing that tax up to 11 cents.
McTeague believes this is also an issue created by Canadians.
“At the core of all this is our willingness in this country to fool around with energy availability,” he said. “We’ve cut pipelines off, we’ve decided to hem ourselves in with regulations on refineries. We’ve imposed significant, punitive taxes on consumers. Is it any wonder that this is happening?”
He believes Metro Vancouver could see prices shoot up to $2.50 per litre during the summer.
With files from CTV News Vancouver’s Lisa Steacy and Alyse Kotyk
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