News Local

NDP fights "phantom gas" in national campaign

By Richard Zussman, QMI Agency Vancouver

Canadians may not be getting what they pay for at the gas pumps and the NDP wants to do something about it.

Ontario MP Brian Masse launched a national campaign Tuesday at a Burnaby gas station to raise awareness about "phantom gas."

"There is an old saying that 'you get what you pay for,'" said Masse. "But apparently that doesn't apply to this industry."

The MP cited multiple reports claiming consumers have been overpaying for gas consistently due to pumps that aren't adding up the price properly. According to Masse, this totals an additional $20 million a year. On average, consumers are charged five to seven per cent extra on gas.

It is still unclear who is miscalibrating the machines and the NDP has asked for more oversight to find out.

The House of Commons passed a bill last year to examine the issue, but the NDP argued it didn't go far enough.

The legislation called for fines to gas stations with irregular pumps but Masse said the fines aren't being handed out.

"When you aren't doing the actual punishment, the industry right now feels quite comfortable."

According to the NDP, the government has said they are not acting on this issue for at least another year. Burnaby-New West MP Peter Julian said the slow response is unacceptable.

"This is completely unfair to Canadian consumers," he said. "The government needs to take action immediately."

The cross-country campaign will also call on the Conservatives to designate an ombudsman responsible for the gas industry. The NDP said the new position could be funded with the profits gas stations collected unfairly.