A right-wing think-tank that says Atlantic Canadians are being gouged by gas price regulation is launching a website to track how much extra drivers are paying.
“Governments brought in regulation promising price stability or predictability, or that it was needed to keep rural retailers in business, or to maintain industry infrastructure,” Charles Cirtwill, executive vice-president of the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, said Sunday in a news release.
“But millions of dollars into this poor policy, the only thing they know for sure is that we, as consumers, pay more for gas than we would without regulation.
“No matter how they try to spin it, the bottom line is, you are paying millions of dollars more for your gasoline because of price regulation. It’s time for us as consumers to decide whether or not it is worth it.”
The institute plans to activate what it calls the Money Guzzling Gas Regulation Gauge on its website, www.AIMS.ca, at 8 a.m. this morning.
The gauge, which will be updated second by second, is being launched 18 years after Prince Edward Island began regulating prices at its pumps.
The institute has calculated the cost of price regulation since its inception in each of the Atlantic provinces.
In Nova Scotia, where regulation came into effect on July 1, 2006, AIMS said consumers have paid $17.8 million more, while those in New Brunswick have paid $9.4 million extra for their gasoline since price regulation was implemented on that same date.
The institute said motorists in Newfoundland and Labrador, which began regulating the price of gas in October 2001, have paid more than $65.2 million and consumers in P.E.I., which brought in regulation on Feb. 1, 1991, have paid $63 million more.
“Every litre of gas purchased increases those totals, and the . . . (Money) Guzzling Gas Regulation Gauge is tracking every penny,” said Mr. Cirtwill.
Service Nova Scotia spokesman Dale Madill said the institute is ideologically opposed to regulation.
“They have constructed a model with numbers that support that position. I wouldn’t expect anything else. Whether it stands up to scrutiny is something we don’t know yet, but over time we will find out.”
In November, Jamie Muir, the former minister for Service Nova Scotia, said regulation costs drivers in the province about $1 a month, on average.
The department’s figure was based on findings in a review by Gardner Pinfold Consulting of the first two years of gas regulation in Nova Scotia.
Provincewide, consumers were paying a total of about $6 million more each year, the report said.
Mr. Muir said at the time that regulation was generally meeting the government’s goals of price stability and protecting rural retailers.