That it’s an election year isn’t a coincidence, but Premier Doug Ford hit on a good idea with the cancellation of licence plate renewal fees. It’s move that puts an end to a $120-per-year cost to vehicle owners.
Better still, the decision eliminates the option of simply hiking the fee to generate more revenue, as has been known to happen even as computerization made the job much simpler and cheaper.
Owners will still have to update their information, but at no cost. That simply makes sense. In the meantime, there’ll be refunds coming to owners of vehicles for any licence plate renewal fees paid since March 2020. Cheques in the mail? It is an election year.
Motorists could certainly use some good news just now given the price of fuel these days, with more pain ahead given the unrest in the market due to Vladimir Putin’s latest doomed bid to return to the days of Soviets past.
Ford has long taken aim at the likes of fuel and carbon taxes, which the federal government continues to apply and expand despite the enormous cost to drivers and consumers. Some studies show the tax has been a failure … other than at generating revenue (the federal carbon tax will increase for the third time during the pandemic to 11 cents per litre of gasoline on April 1). Combined with a host of taxes, including taxes on taxes, carbon pricing has helped drive up costs at the pump.
Heavily taxed, gasoline pricing was a Ford target even before he was elected. That resonates with the public, especially today.
We like the idea of real downward pressure on prices. Real decreases would not involve, for instance, borrowing heavily to give people price cuts today in order to pass on the costs, plus interest, years down the line, as in the case of the former government’s hydro rates re-election ploy.
Along with increasing the cost of filling up, there are indirect extra costs that ripple through the economy, starting with transportation costs.
Therein, of course, lies a longstanding issue in discussions about how we’ve routinely been pumped by the oil industry. The grief extends beyond those of us with cars – those heating their homes with oil have been experiencing price shocks in the vein of those suffered by electricity customers.
But more than that, we all suffer when the price of gasoline skyrockets: virtually all of the goods we purchase rely on fuel-powered transportation, at the very least, to get them to the stores.
Ultimately, the cost of gas has everything to do with the price of bread when you go shopping. And that is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Increased fuel costs have a ripple effect through the economy, touching us in a variety of ways.
While oil companies argue the ups and downs (mostly ups these days) of gasoline prices are purely market driven, they offer little evidence. Hikes are, in essence, supposed to be revenue neutral. But experience has shown that rising prices correspond to increased profits for oil companies
When gasoline prices go up, oil companies blame a host of reasons, some of them clear and others highly dubious, but always maintain that their margins are slim. They never reveal the extra profits tied to price hikes.
At the beginning of the manufacturing chain, the price of crude oil – those daily reports of fluctuations the world market, measured in U.S. dollars per barrel – does matter. Most of the crude oil destined for our gas tanks costs no more to produce today than it did when gasoline was 30, 40, 50 cents a litre cheaper. You don’t have to do much math to see how that translates into fat profits.