As gas prices ease off again, N.L. drivers are still digging deep

·3 min read
Rebecca Churchill says between the price of gas to commute to the university and the cost of tuition, there is little room left in her budget for anything else. (Ted Dillon/CBC - image credit)
Rebecca Churchill says between the price of gas to commute to the university and the cost of tuition, there is little room left in her budget for anything else. (Ted Dillon/CBC - image credit)
Ted Dillon/CBC
Ted Dillon/CBC

Gas prices are down but diesel, heating oil, stove oil and propane have increased again in Newfoundland and Labrador on Thursday.

Gasoline is down by 2.2 cents across the province, meaning consumers can expect to see maximum retail prices of $2.24 on the Avalon Peninsula, $2.25 on the Burin Peninsula, $2.26 in central, $2.24 to $2.25 on the west coast and $2.25 to $2.27 on the Northern Peninsula.

In Labrador, prices are $2.35 per litre in the Straits, $2.39 in the south, $1.54 in central, $2.30 in the west and $2.33 in Churchill Falls.

Diesel has risen by 4.4 cents per litre. Prices at the pumps in Newfoundland are now $2.32 on the Avalon, $2.34 on the Burin Peninsula and in central, $2.33 on the west coast and $2.34 to $2.36 on the Northern Peninsula.

In Labrador, prices per litre are $2.84 in the Straits, $2.90 in the south, $1.63 in central, $2.38 in western, $2.41 in Churchill Falls and $1.86 in the coastal north.

Furnace oil has increased by another 3.8 cents per litre across the province, while stove oil has risen 3.8 cents on the island and 5.79 cents in Labrador.

Propane increased slightly by 0.3 cents.

The shift reflects the change in the average benchmark price of fuel products over the current pricing period in the Public Utilities Board's scheduled weekly update.

'Absolutely horrendous'

With more than 30 price changes at the pumps in the last month, many drivers have had to radically change their driving habits to compensate.

"I think it's just absolutely horrendous," says retiree Barbara Tilley in St. John's. She said she mainly walks when she does go out, but she still hasn't escaped rising costs, which are hitting her at the dinner table.

"I've cut down some of my food things. Mostly food."

Ted Dillon/CBC
Ted Dillon/CBC

Rebecca Churchill, an education student at Memorial University, lives in Portugal Cove-St. Philip's and commutes to St. John's for work and school.

Between gas and tuition, she said, it's been difficult.

"I can only work so much with my degree and whatnot, and how much time I have. So it's basically just putting in small amounts as I can. I used to be able to just fill up my tank and go on."

The price of fuel has put the brakes on Churchill's social life as well.

"You've got to think about that expense," she said. "With it being so high, it is a big expense just to go out 15 minutes from my home and just go to a coffee shop."

Ted Dillon/CBC
Ted Dillon/CBC

William Spurrell in St. John's said he splits gas costs with a friend because she can't afford it on her own. He said he's frustrated with how often the price fluctuates, and has had to limit driving to essential trips.

"You get what's necessary, groceries and things like that, or appointments or doctors. But other than that, we don't go for rides. As for drives, less trips to Tim Hortons, you know?"

PUB aims for transparency

Meanwhile, changes to the Petroleum Products Act put before the House of Assembly back in May have now come into effect.

The new rules require the Public Utilities Board to show the procedure by which they determine pricing and make the maximum prices of fuel at wholesale and retail, as well as the total allowable markup, available to the public.

The new amendments also allow the minister of digital government and Service N.L. to order a review of the fuel-pricing process and make sure the appropriate pricing has been reached.

In a release Wednesday, Service N.L. Minister Sarah Stoodley said she has requested such a review, to be followed by a public hearing.

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