Kenora – Rainy River MPP Greg Rickford says he can’t explain what drivers are seeing at fuel stations throughout the region.

On Tuesday, Q104, KenoraOnline and DrydenNow reported that despite a few cent drop in prices – the Kenora District had the 12th most expensive fuel in Canada at 189.9 per litre, with Thunder Bay having the least expensive at 125.9 per litre.

We also found that between September and November, Ontario’s average fuel price changed 37 times – but the price of fuel never dropped in northwestern Ontario, according to GasBuddy. 

Since Tuesday’s report, the Kenora area has moved up to the unfortunate 11th most expensive fuel price in Canada, while Thunder Bay’s prices have increased a bit to an average of 138.0 per litre – still good for the third least expensive fuel in the country.

Rickford, who as Ontario’s former Minister of Energy lead the charge against potential price-fixing between fuel stations in the region with an investigation by the Competition Bureau of Canada in 2019, says he still can’t explain the price differences.

“I can’t explain the price variations between Kenora, Red Lake, Dryden and Sioux Lookout. It’s a bit of a wild west phenomenon,” said Rickford, on the Q Morning Show. “What I can tell you is that we brought the Competition Bureau in for a forensic review of price-fixing.”

The Competition Bureau’s report from April 2019, following a multiple-month investigation, found no evidence of collusion between 50 gas stations between Kenora, Dryden, Fort Frances and Thunder Bay.

At the time, there was about a 20 cent difference between fuel stations in NWO and southern Ontario. Now, there’s about a 30 cent difference compared to prices in the Greater Toronto Area.

“We know that by comparison with Manitoba, there’s a tax that they don’t apply to their gas so it’s always going to be 6 or 7 cents cheaper, but the Premier announced that we will continue to keep our portion of the tax off of the price of gasoline,” adds Rickford.

As Ontario’s Minister of Indigenous Affairs and Minister of Northern Development notes, Ontario’s 2022 Fall Economic Statement laid out legislation that would, if passed, extend Ontario’s current gas and fuel tax rate cuts to the end of 2023.

If the legislation passes, Ontario’s tax rate on gas and diesel would remain at 9 cents per litre. The province says that would save Ontario households an average of $195 between July 1, 2022 and December 31, 2023.

“That costs money for us, but I realize that gas prices remain high. I still have a pick-up truck. I know. I feel it. We’re doing what we can to keep those prices down,” adds Rickford.

The extension follows legislation passed this spring that cut the provincial gas tax by 5.7 cents per litre and the fuel tax by 5.3 cents per litre from July 2022 to December 31, 2022.