Langley Advance Times is offering this weekly feature called “At Your Service.”
It’s another forum in which to put questions to our local politicians about key issues facing our community and its residents.
Using a basic question-and-answer format, elected officials will be asked one question at a time and given the opportunity to respond (to a maximum of 250 words) on that said issue.
Alternating between elected groups, Langley City and Langley Township councils, Langley School Board, Langley MLAs, and Langley MPs each have a chance to participate.
The answers provided will be published in their entirety online Sundays.
Langley MLAs were asked: How should the province help people facing steep increases in the price of gas, and the ripple effect it’s going to have on other goods and services?
Abbotsford South MLA Bruce Banman
A. While soaring gas prices are being exacerbated by the conflict in Ukraine, B.C. had the highest gas prices and the highest gas taxes in North America even before this senseless war began.
And today, the cost of gas, rent, housing, groceries, and other basic amenities are hitting record-highs, thanks to the 26 new and increased taxes the NDP have burdened British Columbians with since taking office in 2017, as well as their record of inaction on affordability.
In 2019, John Horgan had the BC Utilities Commission review gas prices, but they weren’t even allowed to review government policies. In April of that same year, the Premier said the province would step in and help tackle gas prices if there was an opportunity, but never did.
While John Horgan might insist his hands are tied, his government directly controls nearly 40 cents on every litre of gas sold in B.C.
One step government could take to help ease the pain at the pumps would be to use the BC Climate Action Tax Credit —created under our previous BC Liberal government as a tool to refund carbon taxes to families — to return some of the millions in extra gas taxes to B.C. families through a one-time carbon tax rebate.
Rather than pocketing the millions of dollars raised through the carbon tax, John Horgan could restore it as a revenue-neutral tax so the money can be invested back into programs and services to create climate solutions and make life more affordable for British Columbians.
Abbotsford West MLA Michael de Jong
A. It’s clearer than ever that B.C. is in the middle of a worsening affordability crisis.
From housing, to groceries, to fuel, everything is getting more expensive.
The skyrocketing cost of gas is not just frustrating because of its direct impact on drivers, but also because it makes other goods and services less affordable.
The most recent gas price increases come partly due to the tragic and unjust invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent sanctions against Russia, however we cannot forget that B.C. had the highest gas prices, and the highest gas taxes, in North America long before war broke out.
In fact, Premier John Horgan has been promising since 2018 that he would address the rising cost of gas, but he has utterly failed to take any concrete steps towards this goal.
Horgan even had the BC Utilities Commission review gas prices, but they weren’t allowed to review government policies, even though the NDP controls nearly 40 cents on every litre of gas sold.
What we need to see this government doing is taking innovative steps to provide desperately needed relief.
They could implement something like the BC Climate Action Tax Credit which was first used under our BC Liberal government.
This would look like a one-time carbon tax rebate for families, putting the billions the NDP collects through gas taxes to good use. Promoting the establishment of additional refining capacity within British Columbia would also reduce our vulnerability to supply related challenges.
Going forward, we need to see government taking real steps to both develop climate solutions and actually make life more affordable for British Columbians.
Langley-East MLA Megan Dykeman
A. Our government’s priority has been making sure that life is affordable for British Columbians, and that includes helping them throughout an unprecedented pandemic and catastrophic floods.
The current situation in Ukraine right now is tragic, and it’s having ripple effects all over the world, including driving up the price of gas here in Canada.
The BCNDP has long stood for fair gas prices and transparency from oil companies.
In addition to reducing ICBC rates, removing bridge tolls and eliminating MSP premiums, this week our government announced another increase to the minimum wage here in BC starting June 1.
We are also the first province to tie future minimum wage increases to inflation. Currently, British Columbia has the highest minimum wage in Canada.
Langley MLA Andrew Mercier
A. Gas companies should be accountable for price hikes, and that’s why in 2019 we introduced the Fuel Price Transparency Act, despite opposition from the BC Liberals.
Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine is having significant impacts, as we’re seeing with rising gas prices across the country.
We have made significant changes to save people money here in British Columbia.
We reduced ICBC rates, saving drivers up to $500 per year, and we got rid of tolls on the Port Mann and Golden Ears bridges.
We introduced the Climate Action Tax Credit helps low-to-moderate income families with an extra $174 per year on average, and we removed MSP premiums.
Next week, Langley’s MPs are being asked: Is Canada’s military equipped, trained, and sizeable enough to meet the demands of responding to climate-related disasters in the near future?
Watch for the politicians’ answers online Sundays.