Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says his government is working to provide financial relief to consumers being hammered by high gas prices at the pump.
Kenney says he recognizes that spiking global oil prices, pushed even higher by the war in Ukraine, are delivering a windfall for the provincial treasury but a punishing hardship to drivers.
“We can’t undo the global forces that are pushing up energy and other costs. It’s something being borne by people across Canada and around the world,” Kenney told reporters in Calgary on Friday.
“But because the Alberta treasury does benefit from additional resource revenues when prices go up, we think we have some capacity to provide people with at least some relief.”
He said officials will work through the weekend to develop a relief plan that he hopes can be announced next week.
They are looking at many options, he said, including a cut in taxes at the pump. But he worries that any decrease will be eaten up by further increases in the federal carbon tax.
The announcement ran counter to Kenney’s comments a day earlier when he dis- missed the suggestion of relief at the pumps for consumers.
Kenney said Thursday there was no point to Alberta reducing pump prices given that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government is poised to hike the carbon tax.
Trudeau announced last December the carbon tax would rise from 8.8 cents to 11 cents
per litre on gasoline on April 1. “I’ll tell you what, if Justin Trudeau were to agree not to raise the federal gas tax on April 1, then we would look for sure at further relief here in Alberta,” Kenney said Thursday. “But a provincial cut when (Trudeau) intends to increase it leaves consumers no further ahead.”
Alberta drivers are facing gas prices of $1.50 a litre or more.
And consumers are being bludgeoned with higher costs across the board, from power bills to groceries.
In last week’s budget, Kenney’s United Conservative government outlined a rebate program for natural gas bills. But the Opposition NDP has criticized the plan because it doesn’t kick in until the fall and contains price trigger points not likely to be reached.