By Jamie Rieger
Many Albertans were scrambling to fill up their tanks before the end of 2016 and before the carbon tax came into effect on Jan. 1. But it isn’t just at the pumps that consumers can expect to be paying more. As retailers start to do the math with their increased freight costs, the customers will be seeing higher prices for their goods.
Curtis Gouw, co-owner of Apple Drugs in Bow Island said they have not adjusted the prices on the goods in the retail side of their pharmacy yet and was waiting to hear from his wholesalers first.
On the pharmacy side of the business, they are unable to raise to the cost of the medication even if those costs are higher because of transport cost increases.
“If we have to increase our prices, it will only be on our retail goods and not on pharmaceuticals because those prices are set by the province,” said Gouw.
As a result, pharmacies such as Apple Drugs will see lower profit margins unless the province increases the pricing for pharmaceuticals.
Rory Calhoun from Foremost Farm and Hardware has already received his first freight bill in 2017 and said the difference is not just noticeable, it is “substantial”.
“I found out on Wednesday what the freight bill was going to be and it is substantial just on the freight, but I knew it was coming. They sent us a letter in December,” said Calhoun, who is also waiting to learn more before raising his prices.
“I’m going to wait until the end of the month before I make any moves,” he said.
Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA Drew Barnes said the carbon tax could not come at a worse time for Alberta consumers.
“Small business have to add those increased costs onto their prices and it gets passed on to their customers and this is happening at the coldest time of the year,” said Barnes, who added his office has been getting flooded with phone calls about the carbon tax from his constituents. “There is very little room for anybody to adjust and it has added a huge burden to the consumers. The ramifications from this will be felt for years.”
“This will slow down our businesses and our economy and this was the wrong time to be bringing in a carbon tax. Our school boards, municipalities, and our charities are all in the same boat. There will be less work getting done by our charities and fewer teachers.”
When asked if he had seen any sort of economic impact analysis of the carbon tax by the NDP government, Barnes said, “There is no economic impact analysis. We have asked them tens of tens of times. There isn’t one. This is all just based on their ideologies.”
Barnes will be hosting an online town hall meeting on his Facebook page on Jan. 12 starting at noon to address the concerns of the carbon tax.