The Newfoundland & Labrador Board of Commissioners of Public Utilities, released the maximum Petroleum Prices on April 14, 2011. For my region, self-service gasoline reached $1.40 per litre and full-service gasoline is $1.43 per litre.
Rural Newfoundland & Labrador has few options when it comes to the usage of gasoline, as there a limited public transportation options.
The fishing industry is the mainstay of the rural economy on the Great Northern Peninsula. 2011 started with a positive outlook, which included significant increases to the price of crab and shrimp. However, the Federal Government announced a significant reduction to the shrimp quota. This is an unacceptable cut that will add stress to our local rural economy. Additionally, a number of fisherpeople will continue to feel the pinch, despite rising prices for raw material product, they are also seeing significant increases for fuel. This pinch is also felt by those in working in forestry, tourism and basically all other industries. Just announced this week, Aeroplan was increasing the number of reward points required to fly certain distances. The article noted that increases in the price of fuel was a factor in their decision-making.
Local workers and commuters pay more to get to work, which will affect take home pay. Escalating gasoline prices will increase inflation, and we will in turn see higher prices on virtually all products. More has to be done to provide relief to consumers. Earlier this week, CBC News reported, “Power price hike expected”. There is currently an application put forth to the Public Utilities Board to approve a rate increase of 7% that will be passed directly on to the consumer ( http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/story/2011/04/15/hydro-power-hike-pub-415.html). We already had an increase in electricity rates and there is no end in sight, especially with a major capital cost of developing the Lower Churchill. I would only guess that electricity rates will continue to rise to assist with that development on a frequent basis. These gradual increases will be a burden to rural regions and continue to hinder our growth and development. The Energy Corporation of the Province should continue to develop smaller local projects to displace the reliance on oil, this may include harnessing wind energy, tidal energy and bio-energy, as they pursue Muskrat Falls. We appear to have lost momentum on diversifying our ability to become a renewable energy powerhouse and have opted to place all of our eggs in one hydro-electric basket.
We continue to rely heavily on oil and pay a significant amount in taxes for a Nation and a Province that has an abundance in supply. Why are we not meeting our local needs first and selling the excess in the global marketplace? I took the photo to the left, while at a gas station in Northern Ireland in November 2010. The price of fuel was 1.198 Great British pounds (~$1.93 per litre). This is quite high; however, like many other European countries they are not an oil-producing nation. When I visited Egypt (an oil rich nation) in 2007, my driver filled up the car at a rate of 0.75 piaster/lt, which at the time was approximately 16 cents per litre Canadian. Where is the balance?
The Provincial NDP Leader, Lorraine Michael held a recent news conference demanding the removal of the Harmonized Sales Tax on Home Heating. I agree with her stand, as it seems unfair to have to pay a tax on an essential such as warmth for your home. Live Rural Newfoundland & Labrador will be signing the petition and if you support this cause, sign the NDP Petition to Remove the HST from Home Heat by clicking here.
We are simply paying too much for gasoline and home heating fuels. As consumer’s we must reduce our reliance on these fuels and opt for alternative energy sources. Many ruralites burn wood to heat their homes and offset their energy costs. Others will begin to convert to wood pellets. Many users of oil will have no choice but to convert to other energy options, as the price is $1.10 per litre locally. When it comes to driving our vehicles in rural areas we will have to find solutions to getting to destinations, whether it is carpooling, ride sharing, telecommuting, downsizing vehicles or trying to establish more public transit options. Through this period of change and transition, we must continue to lobby government to reinvest in local community projects to enhance and diversify the local economies of the Great Northern Peninsula, as well as all regions of Rural Newfoundland & Labrador. During a period of government prosperity, greater attention in needed to spur development in economically depressed regions. Ignoring the issue will only result in greater hardships in the future.
Together there are solutions to provide a brighter future for our rural economy.
Live Rural NL –
Christopher C. Mitchelmore
- Community Control of Resources Leads to Greater Success in Rural Newfoundland (liveruralnl.com)
- Higher Gas Prices Creates a Need For Better Public Transit in Rural NL (liveruralnl.com)
- Gas prices climb another penny (cbc.ca)
- Lose N.L. tax on home heat: NDP (cbc.ca)