Government-set fuel prices up in some northern Canadian communities

Fuel prices rose this week to reflect the summer resupply costs and will change again on July 2022, reflecting the cost of refuelling communities by winter road this year. (CBC)

Fuel prices in N.W.T. communities that don’t have privately-owned gas stations went up on April 4, for the first time since last year, and another price increase is expected in July.

This increase reflects what the government paid for fuel from the summer resupply, according to an email from the infrastructure department.

The territorial government buys, transport and stores fuel for 16 communities that are not served by the private sector.

Wrigley saw the highest price change, where gas rose by 44 cents from $1.29 a litre last April to $1.73.

In the last twelve months, gas prices rose by between 25 to 30 cents in Colville Lake, Deline, Gamètì, Jean Marie River, Nahanni Butte, Sambaa K’e, Tsiigehtchic, Wekweètì, and Whatì.

As of last week, gas is now more than two dollars a litre in Colville Lake, Paulatuk, Sachs Harbour and Ulukhaktok.

In an email March 18, Lorne Browne, director of fuel services at the GNWT Department of Infrastructure said a second fuel price change is expected in July 2022, to reflect the cost of the winter resupply, the department told CBC.

The government purchases fuel at the market price, which means it’s at the “mercy of the market,” as Browne explained in March, when fuel prices spiked as Russia invaded Ukraine.

July’s price increase will also coincide with changes to carbon tax levies that will bring the carbon tax rate on gasoline to 11.8 cents per litre, as indicated in the territorial budget address.

The territorial government increases the territory’s carbon tax rates every year by $10 per carbon-equivalent tonne of greenhouse gas emissions until it reaches $50 per tonne on July 1, 2022, the address states.

The government also sets the price of heating fuel, which in most communities, stayed the same or increased by 10 to 15 cents between June 2020 and April 2022.

Government fuel program historical gasoline prices

The department provided historical fuel pricing data, which shows that government-set gas prices dropped in 2021 before jumping back up this fall and again this April, historical pricing data shows.

The territory can’t provide details about the price it pays for fuel because wholesale fuel prices are “privileged contract information,” said Browne.

Community June 2020 April 2021 July 2021 Sept 2022 April 2022
Colville Lake $1.77 $1.69 $1.71 $2.01 $2.02
Deline $1.53 $1.49 $1.51 $1.75 $1.75
Fort Good Hope $1.82 $1.80 $1.82 $1.82 $1.94
Gamètì $1.63 $1.42 $1.44 $1.80 $1.80
Jean Marie River $1.58 $1.41 $1.43 $1.49 $1.78
Łutselk’e $1.81 $1.73 $1.75 $1.75 $1.92
Nahanni Butte $1.51 $1.35 $1.37 $1.65 $1.65
Paulatuk $1.98 $1.92 $1.94 $1.94 $2.10
Sachs Harbour $1.79 $1.91 $1.93 $1.93 $2.03
Sambaa K’e $1.54 $1.42 $1.44 $1.69 $1.70
Tsiigehtchic $1.74 $1.53 $1.55 $1.55 $1.81
Tulita $1.58 $1.65 $1.67 $1.67 $1.77
Ulukhaktok $1.83 $1.93 $1.95 $1.95 $2.07
Wekweètì $1.83 $1.62 $1.64 $1.89 $1.89
Whatì $1.61 $1.35 $1.37 $1.63 $1.63
Wrigley $1.48 $1.29 $1.31 $1.49 $1.73

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Communities in Canada’s Northwest Territories need more money; minister says gov’t can’t give it to them, Sidney Cohen, CBC News

Finland: Finland’s regional inequality laid bare in new report, with rural North amongst lowest scoring areas, Yle News

Russia: In Russia’s North, locals are starting to feel the new war economy, Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

Avery Zingel, CBC News

For more news from Canada visit CBC News.

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