The provincial fuel tax will be partially reinstated next month as world oil prices continue to fall.
The province confirmed Thursday that it would impose a tax of 4.5 cents per liter on gasoline starting in October, as the price of West Texas Intermediate has dropped to $83 a barrel. The province initially scrapped its 13-cent-per-liter tax in its entirety in April as prices soared. At the time, Prime Minister Jason Kenney said he would watch gasoline prices over time and gradually reintroduce the extra cost if oil prices fell.
Finance Minister Jason Nixon said in a statement that Albertans saved more than $600 million through tax cuts. He said that with the tax rate continuing to drop for at least three more months, drivers are expected to save $200 million compared to if the full price of 13 cents a liter were reinstated.
“The program continues to provide fuel tax savings as long as the average WTI price is above $79.99 per barrel,” Nixon said. “Albertanians will save more than $200 million over the next three months with fuel tax savings of 8.5 cents per liter starting October 1.”
Nixon said the administration has committed to reviewing the relief measure on a quarterly basis. He said that with the latest move, Albertans will continue to save and the province will continue to have the lowest provincial gas tax in the country. He said that the program will be reviewed soon in December.
“As the global economy slowed, WTI prices during the four-week period ending September 15 averaged $89.26 per barrel. During this same period, Albertans have been paying the lowest gas prices in the country as prices continue to fall,” Nixon said.
The $83 per barrel price point represents a significant decline from the yearly high of over $123 per barrel seen in March.
NDP energy critic Kathleen Ganley called on the province to postpone reinstating any part of the provincial fuel tax until the end of January. She said Albertans continue to struggle with high inflation heading into the winter months and delaying the fuel tax refund would help keep money in Albertans’ pockets.
“Tthe challenge that were seeing This day it is that even though gas prices are coming down, prices in a number of other items, included groceries Y utilities Y a batch of essential costs by Albertans are yet very, very tallGanley said. “We’re seeing fuel prices could go down, Albertans are finally seeing some relief, and the government is bringing that relief back.”
Canada’s inflation slowed to 7 percent in August from 7.6 percent in July. Ganley said that despite cooling levels of inflation, Albertans continue to struggle with high costs elsewhere and said tax breaks at pumps could help offset high food prices.
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Meanwhile, the province announced Thursday that the Utilities Consumer Advocate would launch a public awareness campaign to help Albertans understand the province’s utility market and find providers that can offer the lowest costs. Electricity prices continued to skyrocket throughout the year, prompting the province to offer a rebate program that offers $300 in savings on household bills for six months.
“Albertans are already looking for ways to save money on their electricity and natural gas bills. We want this campaign to let you know that UCA is the best place to get tips and advice on energy options to find the right plan for your family,” said Alberta Service Minister Dale Nally.
The UCA reminds Albertans that they can enter into a fixed-rate contract for their utilities to help combat market volatility. Such contracts are still eligible for the provincial reimbursement program.