Even with empty roads, northern gas prices are still rising
SUDBURY -- No one in Northern Ontario would be surprised to hear they pay more than their southern counterparts for gasoline.
But even with the wide open roads right now, prices are still on the rise. The price per litre jumped by as much as 10 cents earlier this week.
It has some people calling for action, including the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, as part of their annual 'Gas Tax Honesty' day.
"For all of their moves to freeze taxes and reduce taxes everywhere else, there is one tax that the federal government moved ahead with," said Aaron Wudrick, the federation's federal director.
"They did hike the carbon tax by 50 per cent on April 1, so you are paying at least six cents (more) a litre at the pumps."
Wudrick says many people might not even notice, because prices are generally lower now because of the COVID pandemic. But when they go back up, he said they're going to be higher than they were before.
"We got to remember it's not just the price of gas," he said. "Anything you buy that comes from a store that was shipped in a truck, they need gas, of course, and that's going to be reflected in higher prices across the board."
Wudrick says the federation was never a fan of the carbon tax, but during a pandemic when other jurisdictions are either pausing or reducing their carbon levy, he said Canada should follow suit.
CTV News reached out to Catherine McKenna, the federal environment minister, but did not receive a response before deadline.
The cost of gas in Northern Ontario has certainly been the focus of many different politicians lately, including Premier Doug Ford.
"We have our Minister of Energy, Greg Rickford, all over this," Ford said at his May 2 news conference. "It's totally unfair that you're paying 90 some-odd cents in Thunder Bay and Kenora and other places, but in urban areas you're paying 70 cents?
"Are the gas companies just trying to gouge people? Well, we're going to get an explanation."
CTV News reached out to Rickford, who was unavailable due to an announcement in northwestern Ontario, but his office said he has been busy addressing the issue.
Sudbury city councillor Robert Kirwan asked city staff to look into the issue from the municipality's perspective earlier this year.
"I was disappointed that we couldn't regulate the price of gasoline as I had hoped," Kirwan said. "I think Premier Ford has indicated that he's going to do some kind of investigation to find out if there was any price gouging.
"It's just unacceptable for Sudbury to be even seven, eight, nine, 10 cents a higher than other places in the province."
Kirwan says it has gotten to the point where it's outrageous and something needs to be done to ensure prices are more consistent across Ontario.
"We regulate the price of so many other things -- hydro, cable rates, phone rates -- so why can't we regulate the price of gasoline?" he said. "Gasoline is essential. We need it and I do believe if certain areas of the province are paying that much more, there's something wrong."