The Common Front for Social Justice New Brunswick opposes in the strongest terms Irving Oil’s pressure campaign to increase the price of heating oil for New Brunswickers. In addition to asking the NB Energy and Utilities Board for an increase of its wholesale margins prices of 10% – resulting in higher gas and heating oil prices – President Darren Gillis of Irving Oil has threatened to cut Irving’s supply of heating oil to the province if the company’s demand to increase prices is not met by the Utilities Board.
Home heating is a necessity in New Brunswick, especially in the winter. This extreme price hike would have a dire impact on low-income workers, citizens on fixed incomes, and those living on social assistance, especially in the wake of the economic impacts of COVID-19 and the Higgs government’s austerity policies.
Single social assistance recipients have received just a 3% income increase in the last ten years and single parents and couples have received no increases to social assistance. Everyone living on social assistance in New Brunswick already lives well below the poverty line, as do many citizens on fixed income, and many low-wage workers. These price increases are simply unaffordable and inhumane.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadian billionaires have increased their collective wealth by $37 billion and the largest corporations have raked in massive profits while also receiving public subsidies. Among these “pandemic profiteers” is the Irving family, the owners of Irving Oil and the 7th richest family in the country and the richest in New Brunswick. The richest family in the province threatening citizens and the government with cutting off an essential resource if their demands to extract more profit are not met is nothing short of an attempt at extortion.
The Common Front for Social Justice calls on the government of New Brunswick to:
- Reject any increase in wholesale margins prices
- Enact policies to control the price of home heating
- Enact policies to secure an adequate supply of heating oil for New Brunswickers, with serious penalties for suppliers who attempt to use extortionary prices
- Enact a wealth tax and immediately direct revenues to raising social assistance and fixed incomes above the poverty line
- Invest in programs to promote affordable sustainable and community-based home heating solutions