Alberta’s NDP is calling for an independent third-party audit to make sure Albertans will actually receive the 13-cent-per-litre gasoline tax break promised by the UCP.
Premier Jason Kenney has said the 13-cent per litre provincial tax will be suspended April 1 for both gasoline and diesel while Albertans face sky-high prices at the pumps.
Alberta NDP energy critic Kathleen Ganley said there’s no way that Albertans can be assured that rebate is passed onto them.
“The challenge I think is that we don’t know what we’ll see on April 1st. Maybe we’ll see them drop by 13 cents and they’ll go up the next day,” said Ganley about fluctuating gas prices.
“An audit will provide accountability and transparency around fuel tax rebate so Albertans will know they are getting the full rebate, or just an April Fool’s Day joke.”
“Albertans deserve to know it’s actually having an impact on the bottom line of Alberta families and that it isn’t just going to pad the bottom lines of already profitable corporations.”
The UCP’s gasoline tax break is to continue through the spring and be adjusted on a sliding scale depending on oil prices. The full 13 cents will be restored if the price drops below US$80 a barrel.
Ganley said there is reason for skepticism. When Finance Minister Travis Toews was asked if there was any guarantee that Albertans would get the rebate, his answer was no.
“His only answer was that companies will likely do it on their own.”
She said an audit could encourage companies to alter their behaviour.
She said the UPC also claims to be addressing natural gas and electricity costs. But the natural gas rebate doesn’t take effect until next year and only applies if prices increase dramatically. The electricity rebate is only about $50 a month while power bills increase by hundreds of dollars.
“The provincial government is spending an enormous amount of taxpayer money on (fuel tax rebates). The provincial government has a right to determine whether that money was in fact used to lower prices for Albertans so we’re asking them to do an audit to make sure that is the case.”
According to GasBuddy, the average price of regular unleaded gas in Red Deer was 167.9 cents a litre on Wednesday.