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Sask. NDP renews calls for gas and affordability relief

Picketers set up a fence around the Sherwood Co-op Home Centre and Gas Bar in Regina on Jan. 16. Stewart Manhas / Global News

In the thick of inflation and soaring gas prices the NDP is again calling on the province to introduce affordability measures.

They’re asking for a pause on the fifteen cent a litre provincial fuel tax and want the provincial government to introduce a “Windfall profit surcharge” on oil and potash producers.

The move would mean the province taking in an additional one per cent of oil and potash sales. With resource prices as high as they are, says the NDP, the province can already afford to rebate one hundred and twenty five million dollars to the Saskatchewan people.

“Inflation is at a generational high, gas climbs to historic highs day after day, and meanwhile we have a government that is asleep at the switch,” opposition economy critic Aleana Young said at a press conference outside a Mobil gas station on Albert Street in Regina on Wednesday.

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Read more: Sask. NDP loses motion to suspend or rebate provincial fuel tax collection

“Gas is kissing $2.07. We have SARM (Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities) looking at road contracts that are in danger, municipalities that are potentially not able to maintain infrastructure critical to our province. We have small businesses with less than half of them recovered to where they were pre pandemic, staring down 8 percent power hike and now facing record prices at the pumps,” she said.

Global News reached out to the province for a response.

“In March, the Government of Saskatchewan announced that rebates of $100 will be provided to the owner of each vehicle registered as of March 9, 2022, to help Saskatchewan drivers facing higher fuel costs, for a total of approx. $95 million. Those cheques are currently being delivered by SGI.”

Premier Scott Moe indicated, “as we find our way through this fiscal year, if we do find our way to a surplus, we are looking at how can we return these dollars so that it would benefit all Saskatchewan people.”

“It is important to note that Inflationary pressure is not just affecting Saskatchewan, it is affecting the entire country. Inflation and energy costs are being exacerbated by the lack of pipelines and the federal carbon tax. The opposition should call on their federal counterparts to address these federal taxes on fuel, including the carbon tax,” government of Saskatchewan said in a statement.

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Read more: Sask. NDP loses motion to suspend or rebate provincial fuel tax collection

Young said that families and people in the province are looking to cancel camping trips and vacations. She added that the NDP has been calling for affordability measures for fuel relief since March 7.

MLA and opposition finance critic Trent Wotherspoon was also at the press conference, “we are calling on this government to get with the program, get with reality and deliver affordability for Saskatchewan people now,” he said.

Wotherspoon called for an immediate $125 million cost of living rebate to the people of Saskatchewan, as well as scrapping the extension of the “nonsense PST.”

“The consequences of not acting here are significant. Saskatchewan people are facing incredible hardship, at the grocery store and when they’re at those pumps with record prices $2.07 a litre. They are literally breaking the bank just to fill the tank. And certainly we know that with respect to other industries the impacts are huge,” he said.

He added that farmers are dealing with the ‘punishing prices’ and pointed to those in road building stuck with contracts that are putting their building season at risk.

“We’re calling on the Sask party government now to get on with the program, deliver affordability to Saskatchewan people now, fuel and cost of living rebate to Saskatchewan people. We’ve called on this government to act in a principled way the way we’re seeing other countries and provinces.”

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