Stronger government representation could help with inflation increase: Murphy

NDP Consumer Affairs Critic George Murphy (MHA, St. John’s East) is concerned about the latest inflation numbers from Statistics Canada, and is linking those numbers to Marine Atlantic rate increases. According to Statistics Canada, consumer prices in January were up in this province by 2.5% compared to January last year.

Statistics Canada attributes most of the increase to hikes in the costs of food and energy. Energy costs are up 6.5 per cent over last year, and grocery prices have gone up 4.9 per cent. Murphy says that part of the cost increases can be directly traced to the four per cent increase in Marine Atlantic ferry rates, which may have resulted in an increase in prices for other consumer goods in the province as well.

“We need the federal government to help keep Marine Atlantic rates low and stable for both businesses and consumers. That ferry is our Trans Canada Highway, and it is completely unfair that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are paying almost five per cent more for groceries if that price increase is traceable to increased ferry costs,” he said.

Murphy also has questions about the fuel surcharges imposed by Marine Atlantic. “Part of the overall ticket price includes the fuel surcharge previously shown as a separate item on fares,” he said. “The new ferries currently being used by Marine Atlantic supposedly consume 25 per cent less fuel, yet there has been no reduction in ticket prices to reflect a lower fuel surcharge.

“Where is our provincial government representation to the federal government on this issue? We know we can avoid some of the ancillary cost increases to consumer prices, and this increase this month was completely avoidable.”

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