April 4, 2019 9:15 pm
Updated: April 5, 2019 1:54 pm

B.C. government to consider gas price ‘relief’ if prices continue to climb

WATCH: Keith Baldrey breaks down the political ramifications over the record gas prices across the Lower Mainland, which many are attributing to increases to the provincial carbon tax.

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B.C. Premier John Horgan says his government will look into measures to reduce the price of gasoline if the cost of filling up the tank keeps going up.

But the premier questions whether his government should be blamed for escalating gas prices.

“I believe that what we can do is find as many alternatives for people and if the price increases persist through the summer we will look at other options,” Horgan said Thursday.

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“We have seen the summer gas gouging start in April. I appreciate it is earlier than normal for drivers to feel the pinch. We are hopeful prices will decline over time as market forces come into play. But we need more supply.”

READ MORE: Metro Vancouver gas prices hit all-time high

Metro Vancouver broke a record on Thursday when gas prices hit $1.67.9.

Almost 34 cents of every litre of gas purchased in Metro Vancouver goes to provincial coffers. That includes the 17-cent TransLink tax, two motor fuel taxes totalling 8.5 cents, and the 8.9-cent carbon tax.

The carbon tax went up a penny on April 1.

Horgan says the provincial government has very little to do with the pricing increases, pointing out that carbon tax increases under his government have only driven up prices by two cents in a little more than a year and a half.

WATCH: Gas prices set to hit all-time record in Metro Vancouver

Instead, the B.C. premier is pointing his finger at oil and gas companies. Horgan says the price of a barrel of oil has remained relatively stable while gas prices have gone up quickly.

“I’m as disappointed as other British Columbians when I see massive spikes in process with no rationale behind that. The carbon tax went up one penny on Monday. That does not reconcile with a 12 or 13 or 14-cent increase across the week,” Horgan said.

“It’s not about governments gouging, it’s about gas companies gouging.”

WATCH (aired April 1): The rising cost of living in B.C.

The B.C. Liberals have been calling on the government for nearly a year to provide relief to drivers at the pump. Leader Andrew Wilkinson says the province could decide to rebate some of the taxes on gas back to drivers.

“British Columbia has the highest gasoline prices in North America, the highest gasoline taxes. You have to ask yourself is there any ceiling on this or will John Horgan keep putting them up until we can’t pay anymore,” Wilkinson said.

“This government could easily pick a number, lets say $1.60 a litre, and say after that we are going to rebate the taxes to keep it at a more affordable level. Right now we are on a pathway to totally unaffordable gasoline.”

READ MORE: BC Liberals call for government to provide temporary relief at the gas pumps

The B.C. government has up until now focused on encouraging people to get out of their vehicles. Horgan says the increase in the carbon tax has been funnelled back to improving public transit.

“When I talk to the travelling public I understand the challenges they see before them. One of the ways to get out of high gas prices is to get into transit,” Horgan said.

“What we have done is we have determined that any increases to carbon taxes, the two cents we have added since we formed government we are putting that money right into transit.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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