The call from the Official Opposition comes in response to skyrocketing gas prices prices in the province.
In Metro Vancouver, some drivers are now paying 2.229 per litre — a regional record and among the highest prices in North America.
“John Horgan has been promising to provide people with relief from rising gas prices since 2018,” said BC Liberal finance critic Peter Milobar in Question Period on Tuesday.
“Here we are, fully four years later, and a complete lack of action from the NDP has left British Columbians paying the highest gas prices in North America.”
Alberta suspended its own fuel tax of $0.13 per litre on April 1. According to its provincial government, the changes led to estimated savings of $6.80 per tank for a 50-litre compact car, $7.21 for a small SUV, $12.65 for a mid-size SUV, $18.50 for a large pickup, and $185.50 per tank for a semi-trailer.
Responding to questions about gas prices in the legislature on Tuesday, Deputy Premier Mike Farnworth said there is no guarantee companies would pass savings on to drivers.
“I’ll remind the honourable member of this fact — economists who understand the gas market have made it really clear that cutting gas taxes for the sake of cutting gas taxes does not guarantee that money goes back into people’s pockets,” he said.
“More often than not, it is taken up by the gas companies that jack the price up.”
Recent analysis by University of Calgary economist Trevor Tombe, however, showed the tax break in Alberta led to between 87 to 93 per cent of the decrease being reflected at the pump.
According to the BC Liberals, a one-time boost to the Climate Action Tax Credit would directly help lower and middle-income British Columbians more than those in higher tax brackets.
The credit helps offset the impact of carbon taxes paid by individuals or families, and the next payment date is July 5, 2022.
With gas prices on the rise, some have asked me if this means Alberta's gas tax holiday failed.
No. It's not prices today vs March 31 that matters. It's prices vs what they would have been. Agree or not with the policy, evidence is clear: the tax holiday lowers prices. pic.twitter.com/4Pb4NYEXTP
— Trevor Tombe (@trevortombe) May 6, 2022
The BC Liberals claim some of the record-high carbon tax revenue collected by the province — more than $1 billion more annually since 2017 — could be returned to residents directly through a tax credit.
Liberal MLAs also suggest allowing small gas retailers to be exempted from certain requirements under the Renewable and Low Carbon Fuel Requirements Regulation. In 2020, the NDP made changes to the small supplier provision, decreasing the exemption from 75 to 25 million litres.
The exemption previously allowed smaller gas retailers to import refined fuels from Alberta at a lower cost, benefitting smaller and more rural communities, especially along the Alberta border.
— With files from Caley Gibson
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