The Surrey Board of Trade is calling on the B.C. government to put an “immediate pause” on the provincial fuel tax, as well as a need for a comprehensive B.C. tax review.
Anita Huberman, board of trade president and CEO, said while the pause of the fuel tax “would help a little, it wouldn’t alleviate the total pressure at the pumps knowing the volatility of global oil and gas prices, especially given the global conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
“But it signals to the community, to the business community, that the B.C. government is willing to enable the economy to be able to apply some short-term relief.”
Gas prices in Surrey Tuesday (March 15) were hovering at or just below $2 a litre, according to GasBuddy.com.
A release from the Surrey Board of Trade on March 9 urged the province to “immediately cease collection of the provincial fuel tax until global circumstances improve.”
“Undoubtedly investments in green technologies are essential, but reliance on oil and gas in the medium and short term is a reality, and that must be addressed,” the release notes. “Government should work with gas companies to ensure consumers aren’t repeatedly faced with increasing costs.”
The release adds that an “additional 18.5 cents per litre is paid in Metro Vancouver, which goes to TransLink to help pay for local transit. Including the TransLink levy, Metro Vancouver motorists pay a total 73 cents tax on every litre of gas. Of that, 10 cents per litre is carbon tax which, in April, will go up to 11 cents.”
The board adds a comprehensive review of provincial taxes should “also include verification of what the taxes are being used for, such as reinvestments in green/electrical infrastructure.”
Asked if she thinks the government will take any steps the board is proposing, Huberman said, “I don’t believe so.”
“We spoke to the B.C. finance minister a couple weeks ago, we asked her, you know, will the B.C. government commit to a comprehensive tax review? The answer was no. The answer has been no relating to a provincial fuel tax reduction or pause.”
Last week, B.C.’s minister of public safety said the province had no plans to follow Alberta’s lead to reduce its tax on gasoline to ease rising prices at the pumps.
Mike Farnworth said March 7 gas prices are driven by events outside of provincial control, such as the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has upset energy markets around the world.
Alberta has responded by reducing its tax by 13 cents per litre, on both gasoline and diesel.
Farnworth says there’s no simple solution to the rising fuel price situation as the cost rose above $2 a litre in Metro Vancouver.
Meantime, an analyst from GasBuddy.com said last week that gas prices across Canada are expected to keep rising despite a recent dip in the price of oil.
Patrick de Haan says retailers haven’t fully passed recent cost increases on to consumers yet, so oil prices are going to keep rising.
– File from Canadian Press