NDP push to bring regulated gas prices to Ontario

A private members bill is making its way through the Ontario legislature that if passed, could regulate the price of gas throughout the province.

Private members bill passed second reading but analyst says other approaches may work better

A private members bill put forward by the NDP to regulate gas prices in Ontario has passed second reading and is waiting to be referred to committee. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

A private members bill is making its way through the Ontario legislature that if passed, could regulate the cost of gas throughout the province.

Timmins NDP MPP Gilles Bisson has put forward a private members bill called the Fairness in Petroleum Products Pricing Act.

If the bill were to pass, it would result in regulated gas prices in Ontario.

"I can guarantee you that oil companies and gas companies don't want this, and that's the whole point of why you need it," he said.

"The basic idea is once a week, the energy board would look at what the price of oil is at the Port of New York and from there figure out what a fair return on investment would be for everybody involved and set the price on a weekly basis."

Bisson says the change would mean prices for gas would only change once a week.

"The price of gas is swinging up and down just at the whim of the gas companies so clearly something needs to be done," he said.

Gilles Bisson is the NDP MPP for Timmins. (Erik White/CBC)

"We need to regulate the price of gas the same we do with natural gas and other commodities that are important to people."

The bill has passed second reading and is waiting to be referred to committee.

A similar pricing policy is already in place in the Atlantic provinces and parts of Quebec. Currently, the price per litre of gas in the Atlantic provinces is slightly lower than Ontario.

Roger McKnight is a Chief Petroleum Analyst for En-Pro International.

"Basically, all they do is follow what we call the New York-harbour, the daily price," he explained.

"If that moves dramatically up or down either way — greater or lesser than what the province has declared to be the price of the week — then they'll adjust it."

Lower HST?

McKnight says he thinks Ontarians could get relief at the pumps if the province was to reduce the HST on gas.

"When the carbon tax came in, and everyone was squawking about it, I suggested to the Ford government that they cap the price at which HST is charged. In other words, if the pump price is 1.32, the HST they would charge would only be on the dollar, not on the 1.32," he said.

"So that would drop it down by about two cents, just like that."

But even though it may cost more to fill up your car or truck, McKnight says Ontarians should actually be thinking about the price of diesel over gasoline. He says the federal carbon tax which came into effect recently applies to all gasoline. He says the extra tax on diesel is seven cents a litre, compared to five cents for gasoline.

"People will still jump in their car and go pay a bill or go buy some eggs or whatever. But those eggs had to get there somehow and that's by diesel," he said.

"If the diesel costs go up, those costs are applied to the consumer right at the table."

With files from Jackie Sharkey


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