Cutting gas taxes is a 'bad idea': Quebec finance minister
Reducing Quebec gasoline taxes as requested by Eric Duhaime of the province's Conservative Party is a 'bad idea,' Finance Minister Eric Girard said Friday.
This increase in fuel prices could even help Quebec in its energy transition, he suggested.
Duhaime called on the government to give a break to motorists who are being hit hard by the drastic increase in gas prices at the pump.
Girard's comments on Friday morning at the National Assembly, made it clear the measure would not appear in his budget, set to be tabled next Tuesday.
"My God! What a bad idea!" he said during a debate in the Salon bleu, referring to the idea suggested by "an opposition party," taking care not to name it.
He suggested that high fuel prices could be positive: it would force consumers to change their habits, so Quebec could reduce its dependence on oil and lower its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, in line with its international commitments.
Furthermore, even if Quebec were to reduce the QST or the Fuel Tax, this might not even result in lower prices at the pump.
"Oil companies' (profit) margins could increase," the minister argued.
In a morning press conference, Québec solidaire also argued that it was a "very, very bad idea" to reduce taxes on gasoline.
MNA Ruba Ghazal acknowledged that "it costs people a fortune to put gas in their cars," but argued that "we should stop using it" by electrifying transportation.
The government is currently reaping additional revenues from rising oil prices.
Every increase in the price of a litre of refined gasoline automatically increases QST revenues, since the tax is 9.975 per cent of the price per litre, the same rate as for other goods and services.
"It would be a bit indecent for the government to increase its revenues and take advantage of this increase (in fuel prices)," said Duhaime last week.
He asked the CAQ government to imitate Jason Kenney's government in Alberta, which temporarily suspended the provincial gas tax nearly two weeks ago.
The PCQ wants Quebec consumers to no longer have to pay QST on a litre of gasoline. This would amount to a decrease of about 20 cents per litre, according to the party.
Quebec also collects a flat 19.3 cent fuel tax, but it is reduced near border areas. In the metropolitan area, another gas tax, set at 3 cents, is applied to fund public transit.
-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on March 18, 2022.