Nova Scotia to regulate diesel prices

by Adam Ledlow

HALIFAX, N.S. – The province of Nova Scotia will join the rest of Atlantic Canada in regulating its gas and diesel fuel prices, starting July 1, however, the local trucking industry shouldn’t be clicking its heels just yet.

From the beginning, Premier Rodney MacDonald has been very blunt in telling the public that the regulation won’t mean the end of high fuel prices. He has, however, said that the government intends on keeping prices as close to their current rate as possible. Gasoline prices jumped around in the month of April, but average prices still hovered in the $1.15 to $1.20 per litre range.

Service Nova Scotia Minister Richard Hurlburt said price-setting will be left to the province’s Utility and Review Board after a hearing process this fall. Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations will regulate prices until the hearing process is complete.

The Nova Scotian price regulation system will resemble Prince Edward Island’s current model, with a few adjustments to make the system more relaxed. Regulation will lock prices at a fixed rate over two-week intervals allowing gas-guzzlers to have the opportunity to budget their fuel consumption. The system will essentially eliminate the element of surprise when purchasing fuel as consumers will be notified when prices are about to change.

“What it’s intended to do is let people budget and not wake up in the morning to have seven price changes in a day,” said Frank Henderson, executive director of the Truckers Association of Nova Scotia. “But for our members, it will mean nothing. We’ve got to buy fuel no matter the price.”

If anyone will benefit from the new system, Henderson says it will be smaller gas stations.

Prince Edward Island has had its regulation system in place the longest of the Atlantic provinces, but Donnie Corrigan, executive director of the P.E.I. Truckers Association, said the difference for the trucking industry has been marginal.

“They wanted to go to a 15-day system to make things steadier, but price wise, there hasn’t been much difference,” he says.

Peter Nelson, executive director of the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association, echoes Corrigan’s sentiment.

“In terms of the industry, I don’t think anyone’s really noticed any impact one way or the other,” he says. “If there’s going to be a difference it will be after July 1.”

He says Nova Scotia’s move to regulate was more political than it is economical, since all other Eastern provinces have already adopted the system.

As far as prices are concerned, there may not be much that can be done. Years ago, New Brunswick lowered its provincial fuel taxes, but Nelson said the oil companies ended up increasing prices which offset the tax savings and negated a decrease in fuel prices. So for now, both gas and diesel users alike will have to take what benefit they can from the new regulation system.

“People have been saying that they’ll be happy knowing what the price of gas will be – for at least two weeks – but we still need to see a firm reduction in price to make it worth our while,” Henderson said.

Have your say

This is a moderated forum. Comments will no longer be published unless they are accompanied by a first and last name and a verifiable email address. (Today's Trucking will not publish or share the email address.) Profane language and content deemed to be libelous, racist, or threatening in nature will not be published under any circumstances.