Nova Scotia drivers face higher gas prices
Premier says no cutting gas tax
Nova Scotians are bracing for near-record gasoline prices as the cost to fill up climbs around the country.
Pump prices have been rising steadily all spring. CBC News predicts the price in Nova Scotia will jump about 1.5 cents a litre overnight, making it 144.4 in Halifax — just shy of the all-time high.
Premier Darrell Dexter said Thursday there's little his government can do to bring down gas prices.
He rejects any suggestion to cut the provincial motive fuel tax, which is 15.5 cents per litre. He said that would mean cuts to health and education to make up the difference.
He also said driving up the debt is not an option.
Dexter defended the province's regulation system when Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil asked what he's doing to give Nova Scotians a break at the pumps.
"The leader of the Opposition continues to attack the regime of regulation of gas in the province, which has led to lower prices for our province," Dexter said in the legislature Thursday.
"If the leader of the Opposition had his way, he would like to have big oil companies setting the price of gas."
The Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board sets the price of gas every Friday at 12:01 a.m.
The price of gasoline in the province has climbed every week since Christmas, except for a 0.5 cent drop in mid-March.
Motive fuel tax to bring in $254 million this year
Progressive Conservative MLA Chris d'Entremont, who represents Argyle, said rural Nova Scotians are feeling the pinch.
"From its furthest point you're probably 50 or 60 kilometers away from health services, the hospital, you name it," he said Thursday.
"It's all away and you know, people are starting to find it a little tough."
The provincial government, which expects to take in about $254 million with the motive fuel tax this year, said cutting the tax wouldn't be good for Nova Scotia.
"All of the programming in Nova Scotia is built on the revenue that we have so what the Opposition is suggesting is that we take money out of taxation," Dexter told reporters.
"They would have to either cut more money out of the budgets of education and of health care. Either that or they would want to run up the deficit higher. I don't think any of those things are acceptable."
In New Brunswick, where gas prices are also regulated, a new record was set Thursday when the price climbed to 142.2 cents a litre.
Some analysts warn that the worst is yet to come, even though crude oil prices are lower than a year ago.
Roger McKnight, of En-Pro International Inc., said gas prices usually climb in the spring when refineries close to switch from producing diesel to gasoline.
This year, he said, the shutdown of nine refineries in the U.S. and Europe is having a big impact in North America. He says prices started to climb in January instead of March and April as usual.