Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Is It Time for Gas Price Regulation?

  I receive an online summary of the top stories in the Globe and Mail newspaper via email each morning and today's lead story is titled "The Central Canada gas price puzzle."  Those of us living in Ontario and Quebec have been hammered in recent days with inexplicably high gas prices while the rest of Canada remains relatively unchanged.
  Is it long overdue for the federal government to step in and exercise some control over the pricing practices of the oil companies?  I for one think perhaps it is.  The recent spike in gas prices comes at a time when the price for a barrel of oil is well below some of the highs we have seen in the past.  The recent surge in pricing is being blamed on speculation.  Speculation?  Whose?  Name one other consumer product whose price fluctuates not only day-to-day but often several times within one day?  And since when should Canadian consumers living in a country blessed with large surpluses of oil be gouged based on speculation?  Our federal consumer watchdogs have turned a blind eye to this for years.  With the summer holiday season soon upon, unjustifiable high gas prices can and will have a profound impact on portions of the economy especially tourism and that is bound to hit us here in the Georgian Triangle.
  Regulating not necessarily gas prices but the timing and implementation of price increases is perhaps an alternative.  For those that might feel this is unreasonable or tantamount to government interference think again. Let's face it, government a different levels exercises control over the pricing of pharmaceuticals, hydro, alcohol, tobacco as well as some other goods and services.  Some of these items are less of a necessity to consumers than gasoline yet price increases must be applied for and phased in so-to-speak so as to not unduly harm consumers.
  It has become a matter of common practice for oil companies to defiantly and flagrantly disregard any thought of fair consumer practices yet quarter after quarter they report huge profits.  There is something dreadfully wrong with a system where the nightly news tells us how much we will be paying at the pump the following day when there are no mitigating circumstances to warrant such change. Huge reserves of oil and gas sit in storage tanks waiting to be distributed to consumers.  This inventory was typically produced months ago when the cost per barrel may have been much different than today and as such the cost of that inventory is not directly impacted by "speculation,"   I recently saw a cartoon where a fictitious oil company had a wheel in their boardroom similar to Wheel of Fortune.  The caption in the cartoon read: "It's time to jack up our prices to add to our record profits.  Give the wheel a spin to see what excuse we can give to the public." Although just a comic, to some degree you wonder if there isn't some element of truth to it!
  To see how much we are over-paying visit Tomorrows Gas Price Today and click on their Rip-Off Chart. The time is long overdue for some form of government intervention and that is the subject of my current online poll.  Tell us what you think.

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Rick relocated to Collingwood from Toronto in 1985 through a transfer with Goodyear Canada. In 1987 Rick was recruited by a major client of Goodyear’s, managing their Canadian business based in Barrie before moving to Chicago in 1992 as Vice President of Sales & Marketing. Upon returning to Canada in 1996, Rick ran an industrial products manufacturing company in Stratford, Ontario. In 1998 Rick returned to Collingwood with his two children. Rick is a licensed real estate Broker with Royal LePAGE Locations North in Collingwood and holds his MVA designation (Market Value Appraiser-Residential). He is an active volunteer in the community serving several years on the Board of Directors with the Collingwood Chamber of Commerce as Treasurer, 6 years on the Board of Directors for the Southern Georgian Bay Association of REALTORS® of which he is the Past President (2008) and currently serves on a committee with the Ontario Real Estate Association. Rick is a diverse executive manager with extensive experience in strategic planning, manufacturing, finance, human resources and quality assurance management.