The NDP will direct the Ontario Energy Board to regulate wholesale and retail gas prices, “to stop big oil companies from gouging Ontarians,” said NDP leader Andrea Horwath this morning during a press conference. Having recently fallen ill with Covid-19, the conference was presented via Zoom, and for close to an hour, Horwath emphasized how the NDP will “lower gas prices now and keep them lowered.”
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“Regulating the wholesale and resale price” will accomplish this, she explained, and the NDP plan to “set the maximum price each week” to make “a permanent change in the price you pay at the pumps.”
Following Horwath’s announcement, a roster of Northern Ontario NDP candidates also took to Zoom to provide their own comments on gas prices, and how the NDP plan will address the issue. Nipissing’s own Erika Lougheed appeared standing before a gas station sign reading $217.7.
She mentioned the price and noted “this is an issue I hear about at the doors every single day” as she campaigns. “It doesn’t matter what neighbourhood I’m in, affordability, and in particular, gas prices, is one of the number one concerns.”
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Lougheed said with the current government “not enough work is being done to address affordability of gas, housing, food prices and insurance.” Horwath also mentioned insurance, saying it was “another predatory industry” the NDP would tackle to get rates down. Ontarians pay the highest insurance rates, she said.
“There are real life consequences to the lack of action” on gas prices, Lougheed emphasized. “Families I’m speaking to are really squeezed out,” from the increases to the cost of living. “And they’re looking for a government to step in to make sure we stop getting gauged like this.”
“I speak everyday with families who are struggling to put food on the table, struggling to make ends meet, fearing evictions, about to be on the street, and this is one part of that puzzle, and it needs to be addressed.”
Capping gas prices will still leave room for companies to make “reasonable profits,” Horwath said, but will “ban gouging” at the pumps. As for lowering gas tax, Horwath said that’s not the way to go because that cut “will only benefit gas stations” and anything the government leaves on the table will be “easily taken up by the gas companies.”
With gas prices at record highs, and as most Ontarians have no choice but to drive, Horwath said it’s time “to get a break at the pumps,” to end the “predatory” practices of oil and gas companies and regulate the prices to save “Ontarians money at the pumps.”
David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.