Premier Jason Kenney says help is on the way for Albertans struggling with sky-high gasoline and utility prices.
The announcement came Friday when gas prices in Red Deer hit a new high yet again. Prices listed on GasBuddy Friday ranged from $153.9 to 157.9 cents a litre crushing the previous record set earlier in February ranging from 134.9 to 146.9 cents per litre.
“We’ll be developing plans over the weekend and there will be an announcement I hope early next week about the specifics. We will be moving forward on that as quickly as we can to recognize the very dynamic situation in commodity prices, in fuel prices, and in the cost of living,” said Kenney during his announcement to provide some consumer relief.
He said oil prices have jumped about 40 per cent since the provincial budget was developed in December and January.
“We don’t know how sustainable that is, but it might carry on for some months, in part because of (Vladimir) Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and how that has destabilized global energy markets.”
He said a range of options to help Albertans will be considered.
Scott Robinson, Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce CEO, said businesses have had to decide whether to pass price increases onto customers or cut profit.
“In this high inflation phase that we’re in right now, it’s challenging for business. Everybody’s dealing with it the best way they can based on their calculated decisions on how either to pass it on, or not pass it on,” Robinson said.
He said there is a role for government during such extreme conditions that are beyond people’s control.
“But they have to be cautious because they’re dealing with taxpayer money and it has to be broad enough to benefit most people one way or another. If they do that, and do it in the right way, it can be an effective short-term strategy to mitigate the pain for businesses for sure,” Robinson said.
Kenney said Ottawa also needs to be part of the solution and not make the problem worse with the carbon tax hike planned for next month.
“We plead with Prime Minister (Justin) Trudeau, given the crisis of inflation and energy costs, park your carbon tax hike that’s scheduled for April 1,” Kenney said.
He said carbon taxes make energy less affordable, which makes very little sense in a large, northern country like Canada. “There are better ways to reduce emissions other than punishing people for filling up their gas tank and heating their home,” Kenney said.
NDP deputy leader Sarah Hoffman said utility rates have jumped in the last few months because the UCP eliminated utility rate caps put in place by the NDP.
“We’ll be waiting to see what is announced on Monday. But what we’ve seen over the last three years, the UPC has done all sorts of things to make life more expensive for Alberta families,” Hoffman said.