October 23, 2012
 
Can you believe it, the price of gas? I spoke to a relative in Ontario yesterday and complained about the price of gas being $1.31 per litre in Vancouver. He told me the price was $1.21 per litre there. I’ve listened to the supply and demand argument from the oil companies all of my life. They tell us that the demand is greater in Vancouver than a place like Abbotsford, 73 km away, when we find out gas is cheaper there.
 
When they decide to raise the price, that is the oil company executives or the oil producing cartel (Organization for Petroleum Exporting Countries), the existing oil they have on hand and purchased at the cheaper price goes up too - instantly. Do you not call that price gouging?
The price of gas reached over $4.00 per gallon in the summer in some areas of the United States. No-one seems to be in control. We are all hostages when it comes to gas and oil, governments appear to be helpless, too.
 
On our budgetary plate are other price increases. ICBC increased rates of basic insurance by an average of 11% in 2012. Hydro is going up by 17% over the next 3 years. The carbon tax was raised in July to 6.67 cents per litre from 5.56 cents. MSP premiums will increase by four per cent beginning in 2013. The BC budget tabled spins a tale of cutbacks, reduced services and austerity for British Columbians. Do you have gas yet?
 
I liked the article in the Vancouver Sun where the BC Teachers Federation President, Susan Lambert, taught a simple lesson about inflation. She revealed that what appears to be increased government funding of $30 million for education is actually a reduction ($100 million cut) because you need $137 million just to keep up with inflation.
 
Statistics Canada on February 17, 2012 told us more bad news. Food prices went up 4.2% (on a year-over-year basis) in January following a 4.4% increase in December. In January, consumers paid 4.9% more for food purchased from stores and 2.8% more for food purchased from restaurants compared with January 2011.
 
The cost of energy advanced 6.5% in the 12 months to January, after rising 6.0% in December. Gasoline prices increased 6.8% in January. The electricity index rose 7.3%. Prices for fuel oil went up 17.1%.
 
And so, the cash strapped consumer is supposed to absorb all of these increases. How do seniors cope? How do lower income groups manage? How does a working and commuting middle class find the additional money as they would drive the most?
 
In a word, credit. For far too many struggling families there is no other way. They do not have wage or pension increases that keep up with inflation (and government fee and tax increases). The debt burden will undoubtedly increase for individuals and families. If you are feeling the pressure and wish you had some debt relief, speak with a confidential, qualified credit counsellor today for free debt education, advice and debt help.