Saskatchewan needs gas tax relief

Author: Gage Haubrich 2024/06/03

Whether it’s to the lake, your kid’s baseball tournaments or visiting family you haven’t seen in a while, warm weather in Saskatchewan usually means a lot of driving.

But unlike in years past, where the family road trip was an affordable way to have fun in the summer, the increasing cost of everything could have families thinking twice about whether they can afford to both go camping and visit their grandparents on the other side of the province this year.

Since 2020, the price of groceries has increased about 22 per cent and the cost of having a place to live has jumped almost a quarter. With price hikes like that, it’s completely understandable why families are feeling a cost crunch and are cutting back on anything that isn’t essential.

It’s time for the provincial government to lend a helping hand and provide some tax relief.

If Premier Scott Moe is looking for ideas, he can look across the legislature floor and listen to the simple solution the Saskatchewan NDP has been pushing for.

Cut the fuel tax.
“Everyone from Manitoba’s NDP Premier Wab Kinew to federal Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre wants the gas tax suspended,” said NDP leader Carla Beck. “This is a common-sense solution that Premier Moe could implement today with the stroke of a pen.”

She’s right. For taxpayers, the great thing about a fuel tax cut is that families don’t have to wait for a cheque in the mail or a rebate when they file their taxes, they simply save money every time they head to the gas station.

The provincial government currently charges 15 cents per litre on both gas and diesel. A two-car family, with a minivan and a lighter duty pickup truck, would be saving $11 and $15 every time they fill up each vehicle. If that family fills up those vehicles once every two weeks, they would be saving more than $600 a year if the tax was cut. That’s a couple trips to the grocery store or a payment on of the vehicles.

But we don’t need hypotheticals, because it’s a policy that works. On Jan. 1, the government of Manitoba cut its own 14 cents per litre fuel tax to provide relief to Manitobans. Gas prices in Saskatoon this month are about $1.55 per litre. In Winnipeg, the price at the pumps is only $1.40 per litre. Now, many things go into determining gas prices, but not having to pay a provincial gas tax is one clear reason why Manitobans are seeing savings that Saskatchewanians aren’t.

A poll conducted about Manitoba’s fuel tax cut shows that 77 per cent of Manitobans wanted the government to extend the tax cut and about seven-in-10 want the government to scrap it for good. It’s no shock that Manitobans like saving money.

It’s a good bet Saskatchewanians would like to save money too.

It’s bewildering to think about why the government hasn’t used this as an option to provide relief, especially considering how often Moe rightly harps on how much the federal carbon tax is costing Saskatchewanians.

Currently, the carbon tax costs 17 cents per litre of gasoline. Moe’s provincial gas tax costs 15 cents per litre.

If Saskatchewanians can’t afford an extra 17 cents per litre at the pump, they can’t afford Moe’s extra 15 cents either.

Fortunately, the government hasn’t completely forgotten about taxpayers. Starting on Jan. 1, it did stop collecting the federal carbon tax on home heating in the province. The government estimates that move will save families about $400 per year.

But it’s been a long time since the government did anything substantial to reduce the amount of money that Saskatchewan taxpayers send to Regina every year.

Moe knows what high taxes on fuel do to taxpayers’ pocketbooks. It’s time to cut the fuel tax and provide relief at the pumps.

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