In last week’s column, readers may recall that I raised concerns about the disparity between winter maintenance levels on roads in southern and northern Ontario. Unfortunately, under successive Liberal and Conservative governments, this is an ongoing problem that neither government has wanted to address even briefly. I raised this issue recently in the Legislature and in last week’s column because of the number of trips Northerners travel each year and the importance to our survival of keeping our roads safe and clear in the winter.
Because northerners depend on transportation, my office and those of my northern MPP colleagues receive so many complaints about fuel prices. The prices are high, yes, but that’s not the complaint. Instead, calls and letters come from people who are fed up with the extreme and continuous price range from city to city and region to region. There does not appear to be a discernible reason for such price ranges.
Shipping distance is not the cause as sometimes people find lower prices per liter in locations further from distribution centers than those closer to supply. For example, on the day of writing this column, prices ranged from $ 1.285 in Windsor to $ 1.45 in Sault Ste. Marie and $ 1,569 to Wawa. When you look at the range between the highest and lowest prices across the province, there is a difference of $ 0.284 per liter.
The people of Algoma-Manitoulin are reasonable in understanding that oil refineries have to recoup some of the additional expenses associated with long-distance transportation. However, there is also the cost of doing business that the supplier should expect to incur. But consider how small a single liter of gasoline is in one of those huge tankers. So it’s pretty hard to swallow when you are told it costs the supplier $ 0.284 more to ship a single liter to our communities.
Canadians are concerned about the significant increases in the cost of living today. We know that gasoline and home heating are included in the official cost of living. As we see the price of gasoline and heating oil skyrocket in Northern Ontario, it is absolutely maddening that after more than three years under a Conservative government, northerners are no more. advanced on this issue than they were under the Liberals.
The Ford government has had three years to help Northerners who pay the highest gasoline prices in the province, and there is no end in sight. Premier Ford should have used the tools he had had since taking office in 2018 to help make life more affordable for northern families, but he refused.
The tool already proposed to Doug Ford to implement is in the form of an NDP bill that would regulate the prices of gasoline and heating oil across the province. In addition, it would ban gasoline price spikes in northern Ontario. We simply cannot afford to continue paying higher prices than other parts of the province, especially during this COVID crisis. It has gotten to the point where gas and heat costs are seen as a deterrent for our young families to work and stay in the North.
In the 2018 provincial election, Doug Ford promised lower the price of gasoline at the pump. In June of the same year, he said, “I told people we are reducing the gasoline tax by 10 cents a liter. Once in office, the Conservatives canceled the cap and trade system put in place to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In fairness, this brought the price of gasoline down 4.3 cents per liter, but only very briefly. As soon as Ford removed the cap and trade program, the federal government followed through on its commitment to institute a carbon tax. This immediately reversed Ford’s reduction in gas prices. So Ontarians have once again paid the higher price. Doug Ford never lowered the price of gasoline by the dime he promised.
New Democrat MP for Timmins-James Bay, Gilles Bisson, told the Prime Minister: “The average price of oil is between $ 50 and $ 55 per barrel, but the retail price of gasoline per liter does not reflect not the price of a barrel. If we can sell a case of beer or a bottle of wine for the same price in Cornwall and Kenora, we should certainly be able to ensure equity in the price of gasoline.
The NDP bill, the Fairness in Petroleum Pricing Act, 2018, would allow the Ontario Energy Board to regulate the retail price and wholesale mark-up of petroleum products in Ontario. This means that gasoline prices in Ontario do not fluctuate and can only change once a week. The NDP bill will stop the spikes in gasoline prices at the pump and bring relief and stability to drivers in northern Ontario and across the province. If passed, it would allow the Ontario Energy Board to regulate the retail price and wholesale mark-up of petroleum products in Ontario.
As mentioned above, shortly after taking office, Doug Ford canceled the cap and trade program. This has initiated a continuing lack of respect for the environment. The Auditor General recently released a scathing report on the Ford government’s record in which she condemned the Conservatives for their lack of transparency with the public on environmental issues.
Ontarians know the climate crisis is THE BIGGEST THREAT our world faces. Yet Premier Doug Ford continues to do whatever his pals want, no matter what it costs the rest of us. He regularly approves requests from his friends to pave Ontario in the form of ministerial orders for zoning and freeways that do not help commuters, like the Bradford Bypass project and Highway 413, excluding members. of the community, even if it is our children and grandchildren. who will pay the price.
Instead of making big polluters pay for the 78,000 toxic spills they are responsible for, Doug Ford is forcing Ontario families to pay millions of dollars in cleanup costs, freeing big industry. With Doug Ford as Premier, it is quite certain that Ontario will not meet its emissions targets. Remember, this is the same Premier who tore electric vehicle charging stations out of the ground all over Ontario. Just days ago, his government issued a press release announcing that it would spend millions to reinstall a network of new electric EV stations in time for this summer. And it is the same Prime Minister who paid extra to demolish almost complete wind farms.
We can no longer afford Ford’s big cuts and bad decisions.
It doesn’t have to be that way anymore. Ontarians know it is time to take a new, more accountable and transparent direction that serves the interests and meets the needs of everyone in this province.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office regarding these or any other provincial matters. You can reach my constituency office by email at [email protected] or call 705-461-9710 or toll free at 1-800-831-1899.