Premier François Legualt said his government is looking at ways to tackle inflation, acknowledging Tuesday that the increase in cost of living is hurting Quebecers.
An area of particular concern for many Quebecers is the dramatic increase in fuel prices since the outbreak of the Russian-led war in Ukraine.
Just last Thursday, the average price of regular gasoline in Montreal was a startling $1.77 per litre according to CAA Quebec — an eight-cent jump in a 24-hour period.
On Tuesday, Montreal-area motorists were looking at prices closer to $1.90, according to GasBuddy, a website that tracks fuel prices in real-time.
Dan McTeague, president of Canadians for Affordable Energy, told Global News last week that seeing prices soar to $2.00 wasn’t out of the question.
The conflict in Ukraine and the crippling sanctions on Russia, the third-largest oil producer in the world, have combined with oil supply lagging behind demand to send the barrel price of oil to the highest it’s been in a decade.
The increase in oil prices won’t just affect Quebecers at the pump. With increasing costs of diesel used in industry, imports and exports are expected to be impacted as well, leading to increased prices of other goods and services.
“Wait till you see what this does to your grocery checkout. We are looking to a 25- to 35-per cent increase on food,” McTeague said.
In Alberta, Premier Jason Kenney announced Monday that the province will stop collecting the provincial fuel tax and introduce an electricity rebate as a way to bring some relief to Albertans.
Legault, however, indicated that cutting the fuel tax wasn’t an option he favoured.
“I think it’s important to try to help people who have the most problem, not necessarily the people consuming the most,” he said.
“We think that it’s more fair when we talk about price of gas, price of grocery, rent levels — it’s better to give a fixed amount a bit like we did in January. We gave $200 to $275 to people with low revenue.”
Read more: Quebec to table spring budget on March 22
Legault said the issue of inflation would be addressed in the upcoming provincial budget on March 22.
“So of course, some opposition parties may make negative comment or positive comments,” he said. “So we’ll have a debate about our economy and how do we answer inflation problems.”
— with files from Global News’ Brayden Jagger Haines and Gloria Henriquez