Col­umn: Ford on right track to re­duce gas prices


As On­tar­i­ans fill up their tanks to en­joy the first long week­end of the sum­mer, they’re faced with the sticker shock of the high price of fuel. Tack­ling th­ese high prices must be a pri­or­ity for can­di­dates in the pro­vin­cial elec­tion.

Gas prices are at a four-year high in On­tario, with the av­er­age Toronto sta­tion sell­ing gas for $1.37 cents per litre. (In Sud­bury on Wed­nes­day, the av­er­age price was $134.6). And while gas prices are, of course, im­pacted by global mar­kets and the price of crude, a huge part of the price is driven by our po­lit­i­cal lead­ers.

In On­tario, gas taxes ac­count for about 33 per cent of the price at the pump. If all gas taxes were elim­i­nated to­mor­row, in­stead of pay­ing $1.37 to fuel up, you’d be pay­ing 92 cents per litre. You couldn’t find a gas sta­tion in the prov­ince sell­ing gas any­where close to that price. But you could find one in New York, where the av­er­age price is 90 cents a litre. And you could do four cents better in Michi­gan – where the av­er­age price per litre is 88 cents per litre.

To lower the price of gas, politi­cians need to make af­ford­abil­ity a pri­or­ity and get their fin­gers out of driv­ers’ wal­lets. But only one can­di­date is tak­ing this is­sue se­ri­ously, so far.

PC Party leader Doug Ford has made a tan­gi­ble and in­deed dra­matic com­mit­ment to lower gas prices. Upon en­ter­ing the race for PC Party leader, he im­me­di­ately pledged to cut the cap-and-trade car­bon tax. This would save driv­ers about 4.4 cents a litre, based on the Cana­dian Tax­pay­ers Fed­er­a­tion’s 2018 Gas Tax Hon­esty Re­port.

What’s more, yes­ter­day Ford com­mit­ted to sig­nif­i­cantly re­duc­ing On­tario’s fuel tax from 14.9 cents per litre to 9 cents per litre.

This is ex­actly the right ap­proach.

On­tario driv­ers cur­rently pay both fed­eral and pro­vin­cial ex­cise tax, and fed­eral and pro­vin­cial sales tax, which is ap­plied on top of the ex­cise taxes and the car­bon tax. Ford’s cut would mean to­day we could be fu­el­ing up for $1.25 per litre, in­stead of $1.37. This would save On­tario driv­ers $1.19 bil­lion ev­ery year.

NDP leader An­drea Hor­wath has also pledged ac­tion on gas prices, but her plan would not in­volve much-needed re­duc­tions. On May 3, Hor­wath said that she would “reg­u­late gas prices so that ev­ery week you’re go­ing to know what the price of gas is and you’re go­ing to know that it’s not go­ing to change un­til a week later on the same day.”

Reg­u­lated ga­so­line prices al­ready ex­ist in the At­lantic prov­inces, where gov­ern­ment man­dates price max­i­mums and in some cases min­i­mums. Like Hor­wath’s plan, At­lantic price reg­u­la­tion started as a well-in­ten­tioned idea to re­duce price fluc­tu­a­tion and sooth pub­lic frus­tra­tion over high fuel costs. How­ever, a study by the At­lantic In­sti­tute for Mar­ket Stud­ies found that since their in­cep­tion, reg­u­lated gas prices have ac­tu­ally caused con­sumers to pay more for gas than they would have with­out the reg­u­la­tion.

In New­found­land, gas price reg­u­la­tion has re­sulted in driv­ers over­pay­ing by $63 mil­lion since 2001, Nova Sco­tians have over­paid by $36 mil­lion since 2006, New Brunswick­ers by $15 mil­lion since 2006 and P.E.I. driv­ers by $91 mil­lion since 1991. Like most planned gov­ern­ment in­tru­sion into the func­tion­ing of busi­nesses and prices, Hor­wath’s plan will al­most cer­tainly end up cost­ing con­sumers more. This is es­pe­cially true given that she will main­tain taxes like the cap-and-trade car­bon tax.

This brings us lastly to Lib­eral leader Kath­leen Wynne. She also has a plan for gas prices, but the plan is to make prices higher. The 4.4 cent a litre car­bon tax is only the be­gin­ning. The cap-and-trade car­bon tax is slated to in­crease in­line with Prime Min­is­ter Trudeau’s call for higher car­bon taxes.

The price of gas is a huge is­sue for On­tario fam­i­lies who rely on driv­ing as part of their daily lives. Ford’s com­mit­ment to re­duce taxes is mean­ing­ful and is the one that our other party lead­ers should adopt as well.


On­tario PC leader Doug Ford ar­rives to tour Field­ing En­vi­ron­men­tal dur­ing a cam­paign stop in Mississauga, Ont., on Wed­nes­day, May 16, 2018.

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