Oil prices are “killing us”; Prince Edward Island residents react to escalating costs

CHARLOTTETOWN, PEI — A Cornwall man rubbed his face with both hands in exasperation after filling containers with fuel oil and loading them into the back of his truck in Charlottetown on March 8.

“It’s killing us,” Bryden Dockendorff told SaltWire Network after he and his father, Gordon, loaded a 45-gallon drum and jerrycan with heating oil at the Queens Arms Esso on Capital Drive.

“The economy can’t handle it because people aren’t being paid enough to offset salaries for the cost of fuel. If it gets too high, people just won’t be able to afford (to buy) gas or heat their homes.”

Oil prices continue to soar, with heating oil in Prince Edward Island jumping just 23 cents in the past week.

The Island Regulatory and Appeals Board approved another hike on March 8, raising the price of heating oil and diesel by nine cents.

“I started to worry when it went from 96 cents to over a dollar and it’s not going to stop,” Bryden Dockendorff said after spending $60 on the barrel of oil that was barely half full.

By comparing

The following prices were published by Globalpetrolprices.com on February 28 for fuel oil:

  • Canada: $1.536 per liter
  • United States: $1.212 per liter
  • Europe: $1,080 per liter

“It’s (scary) to think about where you’re going to find enough money to get enough oil until the next payday,” Gordon Dockendorff said. “Our salary does not cover the amount of oil we use.”

The Dockendorffs have been stocking up on fuel oil at filling stations for some time now, as they cannot afford the bare minimum to have it delivered.

When prices were lower, the Dockendorffs filled this 45 gallon drum. Now they can barely afford to install more than a quarter of a tank.

If it gets too high, people just won’t be able to afford (to buy) gas or heat their homes.”

– Bryden Dockendorff

SaltWire Network also spoke to others who came to fill jerry cans with heating oil.

“I usually burn a little wood, but the wood supply isn’t what it used to be,” said Bill Redmond of 48 Road. “A guy is going to have to get a part-time job just to pay for gas and oil. I’m here just to get some to heat the garage.

By the numbers

Here is the fluctuation of heating oil prices in PEI. since 2016 (taxes included):

  • 2016: 73 cents to 82 cents per litre.
  • 2017: 86 cents to 91.6 cents per litre.
  • 2018: Prices top $1 per litre, falling to 93.9 cents per liter by year end.
  • 2019: 93 cents at 1.10 per litre.
  • 2020: 1.10 per liter at a minimum of 59 cents per litre.
  • 2021: 80 cents per liter to 1.08 per litre.

(Source: Natural Resources Canada)

Redmond said he would also like to see wages rise to help offset the tightening pumps, but assumes that won’t happen.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said. “I feel bad for young people who are just starting out with a kid or two. They have a long way to go.”

A woman, who declined to be named, said she had never seen him come to this.

“Well, it got to the point where I fill jerry cans,” she said. “What’s a person supposed to do? I can help monitor how much I drive when it comes to gas prices and I can monitor eating when it comes to food prices, but I can’t not let my pipes freeze. A person does what he has to do.

Dave Stewart is a reporter for the SaltWire Network in Prince Edward Island.


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