Northern Labrador MHA Shocked by PUB

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Northern Labrador MHA Shocked by PUB Response to Request to Lower Gas Prices, Says Board Putting Business Before People
"Fuel prices are falling everywhere except in my district of Torngat Mountains. It is very disheartening for me as the MHA, very disheartening.”
Thursday, April 23, 2020

Office of the Official Opposition
For Immediate Release

St. John’s, NL (April 23, 2020) – Lela Evans, MHA for Torngat Mountains, said she was shocked on Wednesday to receive a response from the Public Utilities Board saying they will not consider her request to lower the maximum retail price for gasoline sold in northern Labrador, even though it is far in excess of what other Labradorians are paying and far above the market price of gasoline.

Evans stated that prior to the PUB intervening last week to benefit business retailers in Central Labrador, she was feeling totally helpless. Northern Labrador residents were stuck paying 153.3 cents per litre for gasoline. That is 63.2 cents more per litre than what neighbours were paying in Central Labrador. Evans said that when the PUB implemented a one-day price hike of 30 cents per litre in Central Labrador, she saw an opportunity to appeal to the Board for fairness.

“The Board had just raised prices to benefit retailers in Zones 11 and Zone 12,” said Evans. “So I requested that the Board apply the same spirit of fairness to northern Labrador residents (Zone 14) and lower their prices to a more balanced price, in line with that of Zones 11 and Zone 12. I was not asking for anything drastic. I was just asking the PUB to match the benefit recently bestowed to retailers.”

The Board replied to Evans’ request on Wednesday stating that it has “no basis to consider a request to reduce these allowed maximum prices, which would in effect require retailers to sell at a loss.”

Evans said that she feels dismayed by the process because the PUB raised prices to benefit businesses at the expense of residents in Central Labrador and yet there will be no help for her people in northern Labrador, who are already burdened with extremely high energy and food costs.

In her response on behalf of the PUB, Director of Corporate Services and Board Secretary Cheryl Blundon did say “the Board acknowledges your concerns with respect to the high costs of fuels in Zone 14”, but said the Board’s hands are tied by the regulatory framework.

However, Ms. Blundon also stated: “the Board has determined that there should be a full review of the pricing model and adjustment mechanism for all zones in Labrador, including the supply dynamics, zone differentials and zone boundaries as well as the question of whether maximum price adjustments should be suspended in the winter months.”

Evans is not confident that a review would lead to a better outcome for the people, as businesses will do what they can to protect their profits and people will continue to suffer.

“Big business wins right now and will be the only one to benefit in the fall when they buy the fuel at the much lower price – and will sell it at higher prices over the winter. We are disadvantaged due to the price freeze – and the PUB will remove it for next fall and we will be disadvantaged again. I feel it is another lose-lose situation for residents northern Labrador.”

In the meantime, Evans has asked the provincial government to assist residents in her district. “People in our communities are faced some of the highest energy costs in Canada. Electricity, after the first 1000 kWh, jumps to 18.5 cents. Stove oil costs 120.97 cents per litre, pricing it out of reach of most low income earners. Gasoline, priced at 153.3 cents per litre, is essential to hunt for food and to gather wood to heat our homes. Fuel prices are falling everywhere except in my district of Torngat Mountains. It is very disheartening for me as the MHA, very disheartening.”


Bradley Russell

Director of Policy and Research

(p) 1.709.729.3668


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