Saskatoon drivers feel pinch at the pumps from carbon pricing

Justyn Tricker, filling up his vehicle in Saskatoon on Wednesday, said he finds the increase to carbon pricing “unsettling.”

“We have to drive around and it’s part of businesses to go out of town and drive. For sure it’s going to affect us,” he told CTV News.

On Thursday the price of carbon increased to $40 per tonne from $30. The cost at the pumps ranged between 118.9 c/L and 125.9 c/L in Saskatoon, according to GasBuddy.

Gas prices have spiked three times since Jan. 1, when they were around 102 c/L. 

“But still gotta buy, right, to keep the wheels moving, gotta go to work,” said Ed Ledarde, who was also filling up his car.

The increase is part of a broader plan by the federal government to raise the price by $10 per tonne each year until it reaches $50 per tonne in 2022.

Last week, Saskatchewan lost its challenge against Ottawa’s carbon pricing scheme after the Supreme Court ruled it is constitutional.

Industry analyst Dan McTeague McTeague, who is the president of Canadians for Affordable Energy, said the move will have serious, long-term implications on drivers’ bank accounts.

“If you think this is bad, it goes up four and a half times between now and 2030, so I would guess that the price you’re going to be paying for gasoline will be an order of about 38 cents a litre. That’s another 30 cents above what we’re paying today, which means of course, plus GST, the price of fuel is gradually going to become that much more expensive for everyone.”

Environmental economist Joel Brueau said carbon pricing has a chance to reduce emissions over the long term by encouraging people to change their behaviour.

“This is one of these taxes that I can choose to avoid by driving less, by riding my bike more, by figuring out ways in which I can avoid spending that much money on energy products and therefore avoid those taxes but still get the rebate,” he said.

Saskatchewan has announced a plan for provincial carbon pricing to replace the federal plan, similar to the one in place in New Brunswick.

Premier Scott Moe has said it could involve consumers being paid back right at the pump.

“Our focus will continue to be on creating the best plan for Saskatchewan to address climate change effectively while minimizing the financial impact on Saskatchewan people. We will work cooperatively with the federal government to devise a plan that addresses climate change and reflects the reality of Saskatchewan’s economy,” a spokesperson for the province told CTV News.