As gas prices continue to rise and the upcoming long weekend is only expected to bring further increases, relief at the pumps has become a key campaign theme in Ontario.
On Friday morning, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath promised that if elected, her government would regulate retail and wholesale gas prices in Ontario. Under the proposal, the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) would set a weekly price cap that the party says would protect consumers from “predatory” abuse while providing gas companies with reasonable profits.
“It’s absolutely time for Ontarians to take a break from the pumps,” Horwath said via live stream. The NDP leader had to cancel in-person campaign events after testing positive for COVID-19 earlier this week.
“We’ve had years and years and years of rising gas prices and people suffering financially, and there’s no worse time than now because affordability continues to be a huge issue. .”
According to price-tracking website gaswizard.ca, costs at the pump are expected to climb to more than $2 a liter in much of Ontario on Saturday.
The regulatory pledge is not new to New Democrats, who have pushed for nearly identical proposals in the past.
The OEB commissioned a report in 2017 which found that regulation does not necessarily benefit consumers and in some provinces has led to higher prices.
Gasoline and fuel tax reductions are also offered
During a campaign stop on Friday morning, Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca said the same thing when asked about the NDP promise.
“We know that in other parts of Canada, for example on the east coast, they’ve tried to regulate gas prices. It’s not really working,” said Del Duca, who was in Ottawa touting the his party’s commitments to affordability.
Before the campaign began, Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives passed legislation that would cut Ontario’s gas tax by 5.7 cents per liter and fuel tax by 5.3 cents per liter for six months. , starting July 1. The plan is expected to cost the province about $600. million.
Del Duca said a Liberal government would keep those cuts in place.
Horwath argued that this approach would not guarantee lower fuel prices for Ontario consumers.
“There’s nothing stopping the gas companies from just raising prices under the program that Steven Del Duca and Doug Ford both favor,” she said.
For its part, the Green Party has made it clear that it will in no way subsidize the use of fossil fuels. Chief Mike Schreiner said the Greens will eliminate planned gas and fuel tax cuts and instead redirect revenues to help Ontarians transition to more sustainable forms of energy.