Social justice organizations and CUPE New Brunswick are reacting to news that Natural Resources and Energy Development Minister Mike Holland sent a letter telling the New Brunswick Energy and Utilities Board to expedite Irving Oil’s application to raise the wholesale margin price of gas and heating oil by up to 75 per cent. Representing workers and low-income people in New Brunswick, these groups are worried that the government is pressuring the board to put corporate greed before people’s needs in the middle of a pandemic.
According to Abram Lutes, Provincial Coordinator for the Common Front, “The Common Front applied to be an intervener in this hearing to represent the concerns of low-income people and those in our province living in poverty. Now we’re not sure this process is going to be transparent or fair. Why is the Minister intervening in this process on the side of Irving to take up to $60 million out of struggling New Brunswickers pockets in the middle of a pandemic?”
Angus Fletcher, an organizer with Solidarité Fredericton, said, “When the Irvings say jump, the government asks how high. Solidarité Fredericton believes that the Minister should be more concerned about making the Irvings pay their fair share in taxes.”
CUPE New Brunswick President Brien Watson said, “We’re hearing constantly about how we all have to make sacrifices during this pandemic. Our members have done that time and time again. But it seems like the messaging around sacrifices only applies to working people. Why does Irving need to make $60 million dollars more than they already have?”
Hafsah Mohammed, an organizer for GrassrootsNB, said, “The public doesn’t get the privilege of knowing exactly how well the Irving businesses are profiting but based on the billions added to the personal wealth of Arthur and James Irving in the first six months of the pandemic, their financial distress seems inflated.”
- Minister Holland sent the letter to the board on Jan. 6, one day after Irving Oil made an application to increase the amount petroleum wholesalers in the province can charge.
- If granted, the application would raise the wholesale costs of home heating by up to 75 per cent, according to the CBC.
- If approved, it could cost consumers up to $60 million more per year.
- 39,600 households in New Brunswick rely primarily on heating oil as their primary energy source, according to the National Energy Use Database.
- According to the 2016 Census, New Brunswick shows lowest median household income in Canada.
- The Irving Family are the wealthiest family in the province and the 7th wealthiest in the country. According to the CCPA, Canadian billionaires increased their collective wealth by $37 billion last year.
- Minister’s letter backing Irving Oil application ‘inappropriate,’ former EUB intervener says
- Irving Oil criticizes N.B.’s stale petroleum margins, despite role in causing them
- New Brunswick shows lowest median household income in Canada
- Social assistance increases don’t go far enough, say advocates for poor
- Average hourly wages in Canada have barely budged in 40 years
- Irving Oil’s tank farm and the tax break that keeps on giving