Quebec motorists flock to Ottawa in search of cheaper gas

Residents of western Quebec lined up at gas stations in Ottawa on Saturday to take advantage of gas prices that were between 20 and 40 cents per liter cheaper than in their province.

Several people who spoke to Radio-Canada said they made the trip to Ottawa this weekend just to refuel.

« Everything is higher [in cost] now, so if we can save some money, we’ll come,” said Suzanne Tanguay, a resident of Gatineau, Que., as she filled up at a Petro-Canada on the way to Montreal.

For the first time in six months, prices fell below $1.60 a liter over the weekend, with some Ottawa gas stations selling gasoline for as low as $1.54 a liter.

That’s a steep drop, considering that less than two months ago, on June 11, Ottawa gas stations hit a record high price of nearly $2.16 per litre.

Meanwhile, gas prices at some Gatineau stations hovered around $1.86 a liter on Saturday.

Suzanne Tanguay, a resident of Gatineau, Que., was one of many residents of western Quebec who said they traveled to Ontario to refuel on Saturday. (Olivier Periard/Radio-Canada)

Prices in Quebec could drop, says an expert

According to Jean-Thomas Bernard, a professor at the University of Ottawa specializing in the analysis of energy markets, gas distributors in Quebec and Ontario share the same suppliers, who establish them equally.

But in Ontario, the provincial government’s decision to cut the gasoline tax rate from 14.7 cents per liter to 9 cents per liter last month has lowered gasoline prices across the province.

This means that Ontario distributors’ profit margin is also reduced, according to Bernard.

« So the distributors in Quebec make more money than the distributors here in Ottawa, » he said.

But Gatineau residents may soon no longer need to travel to Ottawa for their gas: Bernard says he expects prices in Quebec to drop as distributors try to stay competitive with Ontario and avoid to lose customers.

“I think the Quebec consumer should face lower prices in the not too distant future,” he said.


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