National gasoline prices continued their steep rise over the weekend as motorists in Vancouver were told to brace themselves for up to $2.34 a liter at the pump.
Figures on the GasBuddy fuel tracker showed the national average price for regular gasoline hit $1.95 a liter on Saturday afternoon, with provincial averages hitting $2.15 in Newfoundland and Labrador and $2.11 in British Columbia.
Gas Wizard predicted big jumps in various cities on Sunday, with Vancouver expected to see prices jump six cents to a national high of $2.34/litre. Montreal was expected to see a four-cent jump to $2.15, and Toronto was on course for a six-cent increase that would take average prices to $2.09.
“These are mind-boggling, eye-popping prices that … are probably not sustainable for most fixed-income/middle-class Canadians,” Gas Wizard analyst Dan McTeague, who is also president of Canadians for Affordable Energy, said Saturday.
“I think it’s fair to say that most Canadians gain weight and it’s not the ones who drive for the kicks and the giggles, they’re the ones who need it to get to work. … And it will be in the long run.”
St. John’s is expected to see the biggest jump on Sunday to 13 cents to $2.24/litre. Prices in Edmonton are expected to be among the lowest at $1.70/litre.
Many experts have attributed the gas price spike to market destabilization caused by Russia’s attack on Ukraine, as well as the recovery in global demand as COVID-19 restrictions ease. .
McTeague acknowledged those factors as factors, but called the spike a pre-war supply problem that is only getting worse now.
He called for a temporary suspension of the carbon tax and for Ottawa to offer an immediate energy rebate, noting that soaring gasoline prices have also increased the federal GST haul.
“They’re making money out of the blue. It seems to me that it would be wise for them to at least consider some sort of refund, or at least a way to lighten up, perhaps through a refund of the GST, to isolate and help those on fixed incomes and those who, of course, are struggling,” said McTeague, a former Liberal MP.
On Friday, British Columbia Premier John Horgan said the tax cut would be a “short-sighted” plan that offers only a “modest amount” of relief.
He said he asked the Minister of Finance “to present a basket of initiatives because this is not a short-term problem”.
Until then, he has encouraged residents to reduce travel costs wherever possible.
“We need to do that by taking all the steps we can to reduce the amount we spend and also making sure that we work together. If you go to the grocery store and you know you have a neighbor who needs of something, ask if you can get it back for them and reduce the number of trips we make,” he said.
“Right now I’m encouraging people to think before they get in the car – do you need to take that trip?”
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on May 14, 2022.
Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press