Ford government 'committed' to lowering gas tax; mum on increased share for cities
A motorist reaches for the pump at a gas station in Toronto (Patrick Dell/The Canadian Press)
Published Tuesday, January 8, 2019 6:39PM EST
Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives “remain committed” to lowering the province’s gasoline tax, as drivers enjoy the lowest price at the pumps in years.
During the election campaign, Doug Ford promised to reduce gas prices by 10-cents per litre by scrapping cap-and-trade and slashing nearly six cents off the province’s gas tax.
Eliminating cap-and-trade, Ontario’s system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, contributed to the government taking credit for a 4.3 cent per litre drop at gas stations. Since then, a slump in global oil prices has led to even lower prices. Some GTA stations were selling gas for 92.9 cents per litre on Tuesday.
But drivers who may be wondering about the other part of the PC promise, a 5.7 cent per litre cut to the gas tax, could be waiting a while for that answer.
“We’ll have more to say on the remaining portion of our 10 cent per litre commitment in the future,” said a spokesperson for Finance Minister Vic Fedeli, without providing a timeline for an announcement.
Gas Tax Funding
The NDP is also questioning whether the government is still committed to sharing a larger portion of the tax with municipalities to pay for transit capital or operational costs.
Beginning in 2004, the province earmarked two cents of every dollar spent on gasoline to fund transit projects. This year $364-million dollars was given to municipalities, including nearly $185-million to the City of Toronto.
“Municipalities receiving gas tax funding must use these funds towards their public transit capital and/or operating expenditures, at their own discretion, including upgrading transit infrastructure, increasing accessibility, purchasing transit vehicles, adding more routes and extending hours of service,” Transportation Minister Jeff Yurek said in a news release.
Missing from that news release was any information about the gradual increase in funding that municipalities would receive from the gas tax.
The Liberal government, under former premier Kathleen Wynne, announced yearly increases in gas tax funding, raising the municipal share to 4 cents per litre. By 2021-2022, the estimated funding was set to more than double to $642 million.
“The Ford government has refused to commit to stable, long-term funding for transit, or even to commit to the modest increases in future years that were already promised,” said NDP transit critic Jessica Bell in a statement.
The minister of transportation’s office didn’t respond when asked whether the government was still committed to increasing the funding.