N.S. premier says ‘everything is on the table’ as gas prices surge

Click to play video: 'Is there any relief in sight at the pumps?'
Is there any relief in sight at the pumps?
Gas prices have been top of mind for many Canadians as prices continue to rise. Personal finance expert Rubina Ahmed-Haq talks about what's fueling the hike and how families can find some fuel savings. – Mar 8, 2022

Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston says his government is considering ways to improve fuel affordability as the price of gasoline continues to skyrocket, putting a squeeze on Nova Scotians.

Gas prices in the province rose by 10.9 cents overnight after the utility and review board once again invoked its interrupter clause. It’s the third price hike since Friday, and the cost of both gas and diesel has risen by about 30 cents in the last week.

Speaking with reporters on Tuesday, Houston said he was “incredibly concerned” about the overall increases to the cost of living in general — from food, to rent, to fuel.

Houston said the rising cost of living is putting “tremendous pressure” on Nova Scotians, and increasing fuel costs are a part of that.

Story continues below advertisement

“What I would say to Nova Scotians is we understand the pressure that this is putting on you and we’re looking at different options,” he said.

The cost of regular unleaded gasoline now ranges from 186.2 cents per litre in the Halifax area to 188.1 in the Cape Breton area. The cost of diesel also went up by 9.6 cents overnight, reaching a minimum price of 199.7 in the Halifax area to 203.9 in the Cape Breton area.

Breaking news from Canada and around the world sent to your email, as it happens.
For news impacting Canada and around the world, sign up for breaking news alerts delivered directly to you when they happen.

Get breaking National news

For news impacting Canada and around the world, sign up for breaking news alerts delivered directly to you when they happen.
By providing your email address, you have read and agree to Global News' Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.

Asked if the province will stop collecting a fuel tax, similar to what was recently announced in Alberta, Houston said “everything is on the table right now.”

“If we can do something to support Nova Scotians, we’re assessing that,” he said. “We haven’t reached a landing on what that looks like, but my message to Nova Scotians is we’re concerned, we share your concern, and we’re looking to see what’s possible as a government.”

Houston did not bring up raising wages as a way to offset the impacts of the rapidly increasing cost of living. The province plans to increase minimum wage to $13.35 per hour on April 1, with an eventual goal of $15 an hour by April 2024.

According to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the living wage in the Halifax area is about $22 per hour.

Story continues below advertisement

Supply chain vulnerability

The cost of fuel across the country is skyrocketing as Russia’s war in Ukraine is putting greater pressure on an already-surging oil price environment.

Houston noted that the price increases are a world-wide issue and it’s unlikely Nova Scotia can make much of a difference. However, he said he has been concerned for a while about supply chain disruptions and suggested it’s time that Canada should rely less on international imports.

“Every time something disrupts a supply chain, it really tells us how vulnerable we are. We’re seeing that in gas, we’re seeing that in other products as well,” he said.

“So I think any time we can look to domestic security — food security, energy security, supply chain security — these are always discussions we should have.”

This could involve building more pipelines and improving agriculture so more fuel and food can be produced domestically, said Houston.

The province has set environmental goals, which include the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to at least 53 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 and the achievement of net zero emissions by 2050.

Story continues below advertisement

Houston said he is serious about those goals, “but we also need to, as a country, really, think about the security of our supply chain.”

“Our commitment is to do what we can to preserve the planet for future generations … but we’re also realists, and we know there will be bumps in the road,” he said.

Sponsored content