By TODD STONE
MLA, Kamloops-South Thompson
GAS PRICES are once again skyrocketing across the province and there is no end in sight, thanks to the NDP government’s refusal to act.
Here in Kamloops, gas prices were above $2 per litre at some retailers and experts are expecting these prices to continue rising. These record-high prices at the pump are compounding the unaffordability crisis here in British Columbia.
Between fuel costs and the rising prices of housing, rent and groceries, we’re all feeling the pinch.
While this issue is affecting people across this province, the NDP government has continued to blame the crisis in Ukraine for the increase in prices.
While the Russian war in Europe is certainly a factor, we also know British Columbians were paying the highest gas taxes in North America before the conflict broke out — and likely will be for some time unless this government decides to do something about it.
It costs more than $200 to fill up an average family vehicle at today’s prices, and over a third of that is taxes. Prices are up 90 cents per litre under the NDP, and B.C. gas prices are 50 to 60 cents per litre higher than in Washington State or Alberta.
Since 2018, the NDP have been promising relief from rising gas prices. Year after year, John Horgan has promised British Columbians that he is looking into the issue and that his government will explore “options.”
Four years later, there has been no effective action taken by the NDP government. It seems their cabinet ministers — who recently voted themselves a $20,000 retroactive pay increase — are completely out of touch with the pain British Columbians are facing at the pump.
We need relief now. Since the NDP seem unmotivated and out of ideas, our B.C. Liberal caucus continues to put forward sensible solutions that they are free to borrow any time.
Following a similar move by the Alberta provincial government, the NDP should temporarily suspend provincial gas taxes. This is not a time for our government to be raking in excessive tax revenue from struggling British Columbians.
Secondly, the one-time ICBC rebate the NDP is offering — which hasn’t even arrived in people’s mailboxes yet — simply does not provide enough relief. The $110 rebate isn’t even enough to fill up a full tank for most average family vehicles.
The government should be supplementing this with an additional one-time rebate through the Climate Action Tax Credit. This would make sure that the support provided to British Columbians is based on income, so that those with lower and middle incomes get the help they need.
Finally, this government should be suspending hidden ‘import’ taxes on gas brought into B.C. from Alberta.
On Jan. 1, the NDP brought in a 25-cents-a-litre tax on fuel coming in from Alberta by truck. At a time when gas prices are already sky-high, this government should not be levying additional taxes on British Columbians.
More record-breaking gas prices will be the reality if this government does not take significant action now. Since they have continued delaying and deflecting, we have put forward actionable solutions to provide immediate relief.
It is time for the NDP to step up and do the right thing for British Columbians.
Todd Stone was elected MLA for Kamloops-South Thompson in 2013, 2017, and again in 2020. He currently serves as the Official Opposition House Leader as well as the Critic for Jobs, Economic Recovery, Trade and Innovation.