Fuelling driver frustrations: Ottawa gas prices sitting at highest level since July 2019

OTTAWA — It costs you more to fill up the gas tank in Ottawa this weekend than at any point over the past 20 months.

And as the high prices fuel driver frustration, an industry analyst warns there will be little relief at the pumps in the months ahead.

“We haven’t seen these prices since July 17 in 2019,” says Dan McTeague, president of Canadians for Affordable Energy.

At the beginning of November 2020, gas in Ottawa was around $0.90 per litre. Today the average price in the capital is just over $1.20 a litre. That’s a 33 per cent increase in just four months. 

“The reason for that has to do with world demand for oil and for gasoline products,” says McTeague. “They’re going through the roof.”

A year ago, gas prices plummeted to the mid-60 cents range in Ottawa at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, as lockdowns create a surplus in oil. A year later, prices are back to pre-pandemic levels. 

McTeague says Canadian gas prices usually follow what is happening in the United States.

“Coming out of COVID, demand is now racing back. Not so much in Canada where we have really been stalled in vaccinations. But especially in the United States where we’re seeing comments by the U.S. president suggesting every American will be vaccinated ambitiously by the end of May,” said McTeague.

Motorists filling up the gas tank on Sunday were obviously not happy with the price increase.

“With the pandemic, they should be giving us a break,” said one resident. 

“There’s no point in getting angry about expensive things. Things are expensive because people want to pay money for them,” another motorist said.

Some motorists who have been working from home during the pandemic have not been affected by the higher prices as much.

“I’m not on the road that often, so I don’t pay that much attention to gas prices,” said one motorist.

“Since we don’t drive much these days, it’s not that big a deal.”

Motorists should expect another price hike soon, as McTeague says there will be an increase in the carbon tax on fuel.

“Three weeks from Wednesday, we’ll be treated to another two and a half cent a litre increase,” says McTeague. “So as small as these may appear, over time they tend to have a much larger impact when it comes to higher prices.”

McTeague says come mid-April, Ottawa motorists could see themselves paying near $1.32 per litre to fill up. 

“It’s unavoidable. It’s an expense that’s unavoidable,” said a motorist pumping gas. “So you’re just going to have to look at other ways to cut your budget. So that you can afford to drive to where you need to go.”

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