“When I was looking into my finances, I knew I had to give something,” St. John’s resident Sarah Bartlett told the SaltWire Network this week.
Bartlett sold his car this summer. She now gets around the city on foot or by e-bike.
“The cost of gas was exactly what got me into a corner,” she explained.
Bartlett was spending over $500 a month driving a used car. Last winter, she moved to the city center, which was closer to work and within walking distance to the grocery store.
“A car was the only thing we could do without completely compromising our quality of life,” she said.
In St. John’s, petrol prices rose 17% last year despite the state government cutting state taxes on petrol and diesel by 7 cents a liter, with the measure extended until March 31, 2023. .
Gasoline price increases are marginally higher than those of essential fuels such as diesel, furnace oil and stove oil.
As of Wednesday, November 16, diesel was 289.7 cents per liter (cpl), up 74% from this time last year. Furnace oil was $1.77 per liter, an increase of 68%. Stove oil was $2 per liter, a 77% increase.
NDP interim leader Jim Ding said inflation is forcing people to make impossible choices.
“As one person said to me, ‘I have a choice. Do I put food on the table or pay to heat the room?'”
Ding said he’s heard from people who have resorted to rationing prescription drugs.
Dan McTeague, Canadian energy price analyst and president of Affordable Energy, said Vancouver, Newfoundland and Labrador are currently competing for the country with the highest energy prices in the country. rice field.
These high prices are reflected not only in the cost of heating homes, but also food and other business costs, he said.
“I think the government needs to pay more attention to what Canadians are most concerned about right now, and we are definitely here in the province where the average price of almost every commodity is the highest,” McTeague said. said. “So I think governments, especially at the federal level, that have found ways to raise prices instead of lower them, need to step back a bit.”
“I think governments, especially at the federal level, that have found ways to raise prices rather than lower them, need to step back a bit.”
— Dan McTeigue
McTeigue said the cost of furnace oil has not yet reached winter highs and warned it would go higher.
“We need a way for the federal and state governments to coordinate and make sure that, wherever possible, they are not contributing to that increase,” he said, adding that the federal carbon tax on home heating fuels will go into effect in April 2023. It went into effect on the 1st, with Prime Minister Andrew Fury asking the federal government to avoid or delay it.
Ding, meanwhile, pondered whether the government should consider domestic heating fuels as essential as food and avoid taxing them.
“People have to get through this winter. How can we make it more affordable? I think we need to hold companies accountable as well,” Ding said, suggesting a windfall tax on oil companies and using those funds. To help people convert their homes to cleaner energy sources.
Fuel pushing up food prices
During parliamentary questioning on Nov. 8, opposition finance commentator Tony Wakeham pointed out that the sharp rise in diesel prices was driving up food prices, and argued that the government should impose a tax on diesel. I asked Finance Minister Siobhan Cody if it would stop.
Cody said the government will look into what more it can do to help people as it heads into next year’s budget cycle. She said the government has provided more than $430 million in various aids to help people with their living expenses.
“If we have to wait until April or May next year to hear what the government is going to do for them, I think it’s too late,” Wakeham told SaltWire. .
“This is an extraordinary situation. If it’s temporary, we have to do something in the next six months. Let’s do it,” said Wakeham.
Across the state, people are changing their lifestyles as a direct result of rising fuel prices.
For Matt Hutchings, who lives in Grand Falls and Windsor, that means cooking at home more often than eating out and spending less on unnecessary things.
“You’re cutting everything, aren’t you?” he said.
“There are direct effects of fuel and you can see them, but there are also a lot of indirect effects that are hard to quantify.
“So when you look at the price of food, it’s impacting our earnings as a family, but the price of food is going up because of the price of fuel and everything like getting a roof. Shingles: Last year we had a quote for shingling our house, but this year’s quote is $1,600 higher than last year because of everything from shingles prices to trash can rentals. This is because the price has increased significantly.
“If you look back, a lot of it is because of fuel prices.”
Hutchings said his wife even took a casual job closer to home instead of a full-time job in Gander, an hour away. She spent $600 a month commuting in her small car.
Making Green Choices Easier
St. John’s resident David Brake has been driving electric cars for several years to reduce his carbon footprint and has tried other changes, but some things are out of his control.
Brake said he currently rents a house with an oil furnace and asked the landlord if he would switch, but he didn’t say no. Brake said he understands the choice because a home is a landlord’s investment, and there are currently no government incentives for landlords to switch their property to greener energy sources.
Brake said he would like to see government incentives for landlords as it is usually the tenants who pay the utility bills.
“While we understand that many people here in the state do not have the option to change their lifestyles, we must all work together to provide people with better options for themselves and the environment. said Blake.
As for Bartlett, she said giving up her car was a good change.
“An active commute helps set the rhythm of my day and week, but it’s not only good for my physical health, it’s also good for my mental health,” she said.
“I understand that it is not always feasible, but if it is possible and it does not interfere with your quality of life, the resources you need and depend on are nearby. If you live in a place, I think it can benefit people,” she said.