Recently, John Horgan finally unveiled his promised “relief” for commuters who are experiencing unprecedented pain at the pumps as B.C. continues to face the highest gas prices in North America. That relief has come in the form of a one-time ICBC rebate of $110 dollars for commuters with registered vehicles and up to $165 dollars for commercial customers.
The Premier’s announcement last Friday was disappointing to say the least, because while it does offer a minor refund for drivers, it is nowhere near the action or relief British Columbians have been calling for from this NDP government. In the government’s own news release, the Premier chalks up the astronomical rise in gas prices to “a chain reaction that started with Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine.” While Putin’s unjustified and heinous invasion of Ukraine has impacted the global supply, British Columbians have been calling for government action on rising gas prices for years.
John Horgan first promised help with gas prices more than four years ago, but outside of a phony cost review that wasn’t even allowed to look at government policies, that help never came. Under the NDP’s watch, gas prices climbed year after year.
A one-time cheque does little to help those affected most by these staggering prices at the pumps either. Since the cheque is going to be cut to anyone with a registered vehicle, it won’t take into account who needs the help the most. Here in the North, where winters can bring snow up to our armpits and communities have limited public transit options, our vehicles are our only commuting option other than snowshoes, and yet thanks to John Horgan’s plan, a Tesla driver in Vancouver is going to receive the same rebate as a family in North Peace with a truck.
At current gas prices, a $110 rebate might pay for a tank of gas but will do little beyond that. We could be utilizing much more effective methods to provide B.C. commuters some relief. The opposition has been calling on the NDP to use pre-existing carbon credits, through the BC Climate Action Tax Credit, to provide an enhanced rebate which would directly help lower and middle-income British Columbians. The NDP rebate won’t come until May, whereas the Climate Action Tax Credit rebate could have been issued as early as this week if government acted swiftly. Instead, they were focused on their own pay raises!
Last week’s announcement has offered B.C. drivers short-term relief rather than long-term solutions. I will continue to work with my colleagues in the opposition caucus to hold government to account so that they bring forward a plan that will ease British Columbians’ pain at the pumps for the foreseeable future.
Written by Dan Davies, MLA for Peace River North