By PETER MILOBAR
MLA, Kamloops-North Thompson
COMING FROM SOMEONE who publicly declares, “I don’t understand this affordability stuff,” it’s no surprise that Premier Horgan and the NDP thought that a $110, one-time rebate would be a reasonable stipend for British Columbians struggling with record-high gas prices.
When it is costing more than $100 to fill up an average family-sized car to drive to work, school, appointments and so on, it is hard to fathom why the government is not providing drivers with adequate relief.
John Horgan has continued to promise British Columbians he will step in and do something to combat prices, yet he hasn’t come up with any actions or solutions. Years have passed since he first started making those commitments and nothing has changed. All British Columbians have is an expensive website that tracks the money flowing out of their pockets to fill up their tanks.
Calling for action, the Official Opposition even provided a straightforward solution for the NDP – use already existing carbon credits to provide immediate help.
Using the BC Climate Action Tax Credit for an enhanced rebate would directly help lower- and middle-income families, and could have been in people’s pockets by the first week of April. Instead, the government has chosen to repackage a rebate that should have been going to ratepayers all along, and it won’t get to you until late May.
Electric vehicle owners were also entitled to the so-called rebate – which the government has now encouraged them to donate to charity. This was not outlined by the premier, any ministers or ICBC until posted on their website. The NDP’s actual intent of the policy as an auto insurance rebate with a weak connection to fuel is showing.
Additionally, this is money you already spent and were entitled to get back anyway from ICBC overcharging motorists for auto insurance. The government is taking ICBC profits and rebranding the money as a ‘fuel rebate’ when the money is not new at all. Instead of giving back what was due, the NDP saw a shrewd political opportunity to take advantage of ICBC profits.
The population has been waiting for some form of relief from the government and frankly, the ‘rebate’ is not sufficient. The NDP likes to talk a good game but fails to deliver any action. Families continue to face major affordability issues, all while the NDP is happy with its decision. This is simply unacceptable.
B.C. drivers have long paid the highest gas prices and gas taxes in North America, something that will not be changing anytime soon. By the time the $110 of NDP ‘relief’ starts to go out in late May, our population will have been enduring higher gas prices for months.
This ‘rebate’ is a meagre effort that is too little, too late. The public has been facing soaring gas prices since January. The political smoke-and-mirrors show that Premier Horgan is trying to pull on British Columbians with this rebate isn’t going to work. At this point, no one believes he truly understands how much people are struggling — or that he knows how to take real action to bring them some relief.
Peter Milobar was elected the Liberal MLA for Kamloops-North Thompson in May 2017, and re-elected in October 2020. He is the Official Opposition Critic for Finance. He previously served as critic for Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, critic for Environment and Climate Change Strategy, and the Official Opposition House Leader.