Vancouver gas prices were already the highest in North America even before the latest price spikes cranked up the pain at the pumps to excruciating levels.
Now get set for an even harsher whack to your wallet, as British Columbia’s carbon tax is scheduled to jump on April 1.
The carbon tax will rise 1.11 cents per litre on April Fools Day, pushing the total amount of B.C. carbon tax levied on a litre of gas to 7.78 cents.
That might not seem like a lot in isolation. But when it’s added to the already soaring cost of gasoline in the province, you can bet even more B.C. vehicles will stream across the border to fill up in Washington state. And don’t forget those jerry cans!
Premier John Horgan felt the heat last week when grilled about gas prices going up, up and away to a record $1.55 a litre.
His answer was an astonishing one, as he insisted it was up to the federal government to do something about B.C. gas prices.
“I would certainly love to see the federal government take some leadership in this regard,” Horgan said, in a comment that left his critics practically sputtering.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” said Kris Sims of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. “His own government is jacking up gas prices next week and he wants Ottawa to do something about it? Unreal.”
Horgan, meanwhile, was asked whether construction of the controversial Kinder Morgan pipeline might bring Lower Mainland drivers some relief. His response was another doozy.
“The Kinder Morgan proposal, as it currently constructed, will not bring down gas prices,” Horgan said.
Gas price analyst Dan McTeaugue said he laughed out loud when heard Horgan make the claim.
“He’s either getting bad advice or he’s actually not aware that the pipeline will in fact lead to greater amounts of fuel into the Lower Mainland market,” said McTeague, of the price-watching website gasbuddy.com.
“The existing line has been approved to be upgraded. So that allows more gasoline, more diesel and more jet fuel to be shipped, which the Lower Mainland desperately needs.”
But, at the same time he jacks up the carbon tax, Horgan is also fighting the pipeline in court. Drivers can only watch and weep as they pay more at the pumps.
Sadly, the inflated carbon tax is only one item on a long list of taxes, fees, rates and fines set to soar in British Columbia in the near future:
B.C. Hydro: On the same day the carbon tax goes up again, your B.C. Hydro bill will rise three per cent. And if you seem to remember Horgan promising to freeze Hydro rates during last year’s election, don’t worry: Your memory isn’t faltering.
The B.C. Utilities Commission overruled the rate freeze, saying B.C. Hydro couldn’t afford to keep Horgan’s brazen promise.
“The NDP budget bungling is not making life more affordable — it’s becoming more expensive for working families,” fumed Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson.
Employer Health Tax: This new payroll tax replaces unpopular Medical Services Plan premiums, which the government is phasing out. But if you think a tax on employers won’t hurt employees, think again.
I’m already hearing from blindsided business owners who say they have no choice but to pass the tax on to their customers in the form of higher prices. The tax could also trigger layoffs and cancel pay raises, the B.C. Business Council warns.
Speculation Tax: This is the one the B.C. Liberals re-named the “cabin tax” because it doesn’t just wallop foreign real-estate speculators (as originally promised) but it also hits B.C. owners of vacation properties.
This one has a distinct whiff of politics, as the ruling New Democrats seem to like seeing the Liberals defend the interests of people rich or fortunate enough to own a lakeside cabin or a ski chalet.
But a backlash is brewing. Several B.C. municipalities are demanding to be exempted from the tax in a revolt that could gain steam.
Photo radar: The government is reformatting those existing red-light cameras at intersections to catch speeders, too, originally suggesting the fine revenue would be used to lower the ICBC premiums of safe drivers.
What a great idea! Crack down on the bad drivers and award the good ones. But that was before Attorney General David Eby said the money would be given to municipalities. Can more ICBC rate hikes be far behind?
Transit Taxes: Metro Vancouver’s transit system needs expensive upgrades and the money has to come from somewhere. And that somewhere would be your wallets and purses.
TransLink will hike property taxes, parking fees, transit fares and impose a development cost charge on new home construction.
Airbnb tax: The “sharing economy” is red hot and the government figures it time they started sharing the wealth in the form of new taxes. So Airbnb operators must start collecting a provincial sales tax of eight per cent and a municipal and district regional tax of up to three per cent.
Speaking of the sharing economy, the government is still promising to legalize Uber and other ride-hailing services at some point. Want to bet that gets whacked with new B.C. taxes, too? You heard it here first.
Tobacco tax: Another April Fools Day tax hike on smokers will add another $5.60 to the price of a carton of cigarettes. And if tobacco is not your smoke of choice, the taxman is still coming to get you. When marijuana become legal later this year, you’ll pay a 10-per-cent federal excise tax.
Home inspection fees: The provincial licensing fee for home inspectors is shooting up 36 per cent on April 1, followed by scheduled 25-per-cent increases in 2019 and 2020. As usual, the fee hike is expected to be passed along to consumers in the form of increased rates charged by home inspectors.
Expensive homes and luxury cars: I saved these for last because there’s not a lot of sympathy out there for people who own homes valued at $3 million or sports cars priced at $125,000. Taxes are going up on both.
Don’t forget the governing NDP campaigned on a promise to make life more affordable for people. And, to be fair, they did eliminate bridge tolls, they’re phasing out the MSP and they’re promising relief for child care and housing costs, especially for low-income families.
But, with so many taxes shooting up, many will just feel more pain in the pocketbook.