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Monday, June 09, 2008

Soaring gas prices fuel motorist frustration across Canada

Michelle Mcquigge, THE CANADIAN PRESS
Motorists growing weary of feeling the pinch at the pumps saw no relief on Saturday as gas prices soared across the country in the wake of a massive surge in oil costs.

Friday's US$11 spike in the price of oil had analysts predicting a corresponding jump at Canadian gas stations with further hikes to come throughout the summer.

Those predictions came to pass in most provinces, causing motorists to vent their frustration.

"It's outrageous," said Vancouver's Maria Manalo, who has watched prices rise by 10 cents in recent days. "Soon, we'll probably just be walking or taking the public transit."

Jordan Howard of Oshawa, Ont. has already begun to seek alternative modes of transportation, saying current gas prices are too much for his budget.

"I think it's ridiculous. Every day it seems to go up even more and more," he said. "I can't afford to drive to work anymore, it's a pain."

Edmonton's Kevin Bell, who had to pay $90 to fill the tank of his minivan, knows others in the same predicament as Howard who have had to take drastic action.

"We've had people who were on staff who actually quit their jobs because of gas prices," he said. "These are people who are going, 'You know what? It's costing me $800 in fuel, I don't want to work here anymore, I'll get a job downtown, thanks very much.' "

A series of price-monitoring websites documented surges from coast to coast, although jumps in the Atlantic provinces were kept in check by provincial regulations.

Drivers on opposite coasts had to contend with the highest rates in the country as prices soared as high as $1.42 a litre in British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Ontario motorists woke up to find that prices had jumped as much as six cents overnight resulting in some stations charging $1.36 a litre in Toronto and Ottawa.

Maximum prices were similar in Montreal.

Price spikes were less pronounced in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island with provincial maximums set at $1.35 and $1.34 a litre respectively.

Drivers in Alberta were more fortunate as prices held steady - gas in Edmonton was selling at a high of $1.29 a litre.

Only Nova Scotia drivers were treated to a price break as the maximum price fell three cents to $1.37 a litre from the previous week.

Saturday's jumps are a sign of things to come, according to analysts who fear oil prices will continue to soar throughout the summer months.

Light, sweet crude for July delivery jumped as high as US$139.12 on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Friday, following more steep gains the day before. Friday's intra-day high was well above the previous record of US$135.09 a barrel reached last month.

© The Canadian Press, 2008

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