Premier Jason Kenney said his government is working on a plan to provide support to Albertans amid rising energy costs.
During an unrelated news conference Friday morning, Kenney acknowledged that Albertans are dealing with a recent surge in gas and utility prices.
“We understand that. Every one of us has to get sticker shock when we go to fill up our gas tank or open our utility bill and it’s making life very difficult for people,” Kenney said.
“People are really struggling just to pay the bills and we acknowledge that.”
Market prices for natural gas and electricity have surged in recent months, leading to some shocks to the wallet for homeowners. Gas prices have also skyrocketed just in the last few days.
Kenney said Friday that when the 2022 Alberta budget was developed in December and January, oil prices were in the range of US$70 – US$75 per barrel. Now, the price of oil has reached US$110 per barrel.
“We don’t know how sustainable that is, but it may carry on for some months, in part because of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and how that has destabilized global energy markets,” Kenney said.
Read more: Is Alberta entering its last oil boom?
“We recognize that and that is why I have directed the minister of finance to work with the minister of energy to come forward quickly with a plan to provide consumer relief for the growing gasoline prices. We want to make sure that as the Alberta treasury receives additional royalties from these higher prices that some of that is passed on to consumers.
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“We will be moving forward on that as quickly as we can to recognize a very dynamic situation in commodity prices, in fuel prices and in the cost of living.”
Kenney said the province is looking at a range of options, including a potential cut in the gas excise tax.
“The reality is that we can’t undo the global forces that are pushing up energy and other costs. It’s something being borne by people across Canada and around the world.”
Kenney said whatever the help is, it has to “meaningful relief.”
Kenney said Thursday there was no point to Alberta reducing pump prices given that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government is poised to hike the carbon tax.
Trudeau announced last December the carbon tax would rise from 8.8 cents to 11 cents per litre on gasoline on April 1.
“I’ll tell you what, if Justin Trudeau were to agree not to raise the federal gas tax on April 1, then we would look for sure at further relief here in Alberta,” Kenney said Thursday.
“But a provincial cut when (Trudeau) intends to increase it leaves consumers no further ahead.”
Kenney said he hopes the plan will be developed over the weekend, with an announcement on the details early next week.
“Help is on the way,” Kenney said.
The price for gas in Edmonton has reached $1.55.9 per litre and in Calgary, drivers are paying upwards of $1.57.9, although cheaper prices could be found at some stations in both cities.
In British Columbia, the price of gasoline topped $2 a litre.
The president of Canadians for Affordable Energy Dan McTeague said earlier this week we can expect to see the price of oil increase to US$130 or US$140 over the next couple of weeks as the conflict in Ukraine continues.
— With files from The Canadian Press.