Alberta deserves a summer gas tax cut

Author: 2024/07/03

This column first appeared in the Edmonton Sun newspaper.
It is now free for reprinting.


Thousands of people are hoping to hit the open road this summer and head to Drumheller to see the dinosaurs or to the Western Development Museum to learn about the olden days.

There’s just one problem: sky high taxes on gasoline and diesel.

Before we blame Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his carbon tax that costs us 17 cents per litre of gasoline, folks in Alberta and Saskatchewan should cast a withering glance at their provincial capitals.

Yes, that’s right. The governments of both Alberta and Saskatchewan are currently nailing drivers with the full cost of provincial fuel taxes.

In Alberta, drivers are paying the full 13 cents per litre for fuel. In Saskatchewan it’s 15 cents per litre.

Premiers Danielle Smith and Scott Moe are right when they put the boots to Trudeau and tell him to scrap his carbon tax.

But both premiers have the power to provide immediate provincial tax relief at the gas pumps in their provinces.

So why aren’t they?

In Alberta, Smith did the right thing back in 2022 when she fully suspended the provincial fuel tax for a year. That saved drivers about $10 every time the filled up their minivans and about $15 for pickup trucks.

But as of April 1 of this year, that Alberta fuel tax is back up to full freight at 13 cents per litre.

In Saskatchewan, Moe made a good move when he refused to collect Trudeau’s carbon tax on home heating, but he hasn’t reduced the fuel tax at all, not even one time.

Now, compare the two fiercest premiers who push for lower taxes from Ottawa, Smith and Moe, to the guy in the orange jersey in Winnipeg.

The NDP Premier Wab Kinew fully suspended Manitoba’s fuel tax on Jan. 1 this year.

That move is saving drivers 14 cents per litre of gasoline and diesel, so families packing up the minivan to visit the grandparents will save more than $10 filling up their tank. A family with two cars has likely saved about $300 over the course of the cut.

And Kinew has gone even further. Initially, Manitoba’s fuel tax cut was supposed to last six months, but he recently extended it another three months. That’s going to help a lot of Manitoba families afford that summer road trip.

Even drivers in Ontario are getting a break at the gas pump. That’s because Premier Doug Ford recently extended his own fuel tax cut.

Going further east, Liberal Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey recently extended his own eight cents per litre gas tax cut for entire year.

And Smith and Moe can afford to offer relief to drivers without impacting their budgets and with only an ounce of spending restraint. In Alberta, the fuel tax only brings in about 1.9 per cent of province’s revenue. In Saskatchewan, it’s about 2.6 per cent.

The governments of both provinces need to trim some fat. In Alberta, Smith could start by halting the $330 million she’s earmarked to help the billionaire owners of the Calgary Flames build a new rink. Or it could wind down the Alberta Enterprise Corporation, a corporate welfare machine that is sitting on about $330 million worth of assets.

In Saskatchewan, Moe could pull back on the up to $3.7 million handout the government is offering WestJet. The government of Saskatchewan also needs to reduce its spending wholesale. This year its spending more money per person than any other province in Western Canada, including the NDP governments of both British Columbia and Manitoba.

Both premiers know that people need help affording the necessities, especially with the burden of the federal carbon tax. They need to dig a little deeper, find some savings, and offer their taxpayers fuel tax relief.

Kris Sims is the Alberta Director and
Gage Haubrich is the Prairie Director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation

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