YP reiterates its call for the suspension of the fuel tax

Four months after a first call for the suspension of the territorial fuel tax in the face of spiraling inflation,

By Whitehorse Star on August 3, 2022

Four months after an initial call to suspend the territorial fuel tax in the face of soaring inflation, the Yukon Party is once again calling on the Liberal government to stop collecting the fuel tax until that inflation goes down.

Tuesday’s renewed call comes as data from other jurisdictions shows pump prices are lower in areas where provincial fuel tax collection has been suspended.

The Yukon Party pointed out that Trevor Tombe, an economist at the University of Calgary and former member of the Territorial Liberals’ Financial Advisory Committee, demonstrated that the Government of Alberta’s suspension of its fuel tax resulted in significant savings for the consumer.

Tombe told the Calgary Sun that about 10 cents of the total tax savings of 13 cents per liter is passed on to consumers.

“By suspending the tax at the beginning of March, the Liberals could have saved Yukoners hundreds and in some cases thousands of dollars,” the Yukon Party said.

“Instead, the Economic Development Minister (Ranj Pillai) called the idea ‘shop politics’, and the Prime Minister (Sandy Silver) dismissed this tax relief suggestion as ‘parlor stuff’ .

“Months later, as Yukoners are buried by inflation, the Premier and his team continue to ignore this issue,” the Official Opposition said.

The list price per liter of regular gasoline in Whitehorse has fallen to $1.85 after hovering above $2.20 earlier this summer. The territorial tax is about six cents a litre.

“Yukonians are growing increasingly frustrated with the price at the pump as we enter August,” said Kluane MLA Wade Istchenko.

“If the Premier had really listened and suspended the territorial fuel tax as suggested in March, Yukoners would be in a better position to weather this period of inflation.

“Instead, as they did in the spring, the Liberals are rejecting the idea, and it is Yukoners who are once again paying the real price for this government’s inaction.

Cabinet communications staff, however, called the fuel tax cut “a short-sighted policy in response to inflation.

“We are seeing this play out in Alberta, where Premier Jason Kenney is learning the price of interference,” staff said in an email to the Star.

“While this province suspended the fuel tax in April, it benefited big oil and gas companies before Albertans at the pumps.

“Just recently, Premier Jason Kenney issued a statement indicating that he will ask Canada’s Competition Bureau to investigate possible gasoline price fixing in Alberta,” cabinet staff said.

“… ‘it now appears that Albertans are no longer benefiting from the tax cut,’ Kenney said,” the email reads.

“Fuel prices are quite volatile, but we are encouraged to see them decline in recent weeks,” the firm’s statement added.

To help fight inflation, he said, the government introduced a $150 rebate on electricity bills for all Yukon residential and business customers.

“This helps people on fixed incomes as well as those in rural communities, and it’s yet another step we’re taking to put more money in people’s pockets,” the statement said.

The government also referenced raising the minimum wage to $15.70 an hour in April, doubling the medical travel subsidy to $150 a day in January 2021 and continuing to “do historic investments to support Yukon’s first-ever universal, affordable child care program.

“This program saves families up to $700 per month per child for licensed child care programs. These programs have lowered the living wage by more than $2.50/hour, as recently noted by the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition.

With investments in housing, renewable energy and healthcare, cabinet staff said, “we are making progress in closing the gap between the minimum wage and the living wage.

“We will continue to take a multi-faceted approach to making life more affordable for Yukoners.

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