CHESTERVILLE – The list of price increases from dairy products at the farm gate to the cost of filling a tractor with diesel fuel continues to grow.

As the price of gas continues to rise, energy companies like Enbridge Gas are poised to increase the price of their product on July 1.

The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) approved a rate increase for Enbridge in late June. The increase ranges from 18.5 per cent to 23.2 per cent.

A spokesperson for Enbridge pointed a finger at the war in Ukraine along with an increase in demand for natural gas as the reason for the rate increase.

The Ontario Energy Board sets the rates for the gas consumers use for their home or business if they’re a customer of Enbridge Gas including Union Gas Rate Zones and EPCOR Natural Gas Limited Partnership. The OEB also approves the rates these utilities charge to deliver natural gas to their customers.

The OEB does not licence or set prices or terms and conditions for the transmission, distribution, storage or sale of propane or transportation fuels such as diesel.

Canadians for Affordable Energy president Dan McTeague, a long-time critic of government energy policies and strategies was frustrated to hear that there was another rate increase in the works along with already existing crises in consumer costs across the board.

McTeague has expressed his concern in the past about the lack of energy foresight by government, in relation to pipelines and a commitment to climate change mitigation strategies.

McTeague said that around the world, different governments were trying to find ways to alleviate price increases due to the use of natural gas and propane but in Canada he felt the government was going in the wrong direction.

He said in Canada the government policies are going to increase the burden on everyone.

“The increases will hurt more than they will help,” he said.

“A lot of what is done in terms of farm inputs does not get any rebates whatsoever including drain drying and in other processes where propane is used.”

McTeague feels the issue of rising production costs and agricultural input costs is coming to a head.

“It’s one to fool around with fuel but another to fool around with food,” he said.

Peggy Brekveld, president, Ontario Federation of Agriculture in a press release said: “We’re all feeling it; whether by fueling up at the gas pump or making a trip to the grocery store, increasing costs of these basic goods has never been more apparent. Putting food on the table and fueling transportation, while recovering from a global pandemic, has created serious financial strain on all of us. But the price spikes don’t end there. On top of groceries and fuel, farmers are experiencing a major increase in the cost of input supplies. Not only is this increasing financial pressure on farm businesses, but also impacting stress levels and overall mental health for the farming community.” Brekveld went on to point out that farmers are not the ones responsible for increased prices at the grocery store, and they, like everyone else are experiencing challenges as their own costs go up.

“Costs to farmers are increasing just as they are for everybody else, and that undoubtedly has a ripple effect throughout the food supply chain. Despite the additional financial strain, Ontario farmers continue to grow food, fuel and fiber with our best farm management practices,” she said.

When the price of fuel, propane or natural gas goes up, farmers are not able to pass that increase onto consumers.

McTeague is concerned that in the government’s rush to come up with plans to deal with climate change, it may have lost sight of what the short- and longer-term effects of climate change legislation will have on Canadians.

“Every sector of the economy will be adversely impacted with nothing to show for it,” he said.

He said for example, that farmers should not be subject to the carbon tax when the gas they are using is for their farming process.

He said farmers should not be penalized for having to dry their grain.

The OBE said in a statement: “Natural gas prices remain high because of sustained global demand for North American liquefied natural gas and uncertainty in the global energy landscape. The International Energy Agency (IEA) is warning of continued significant upward pressure on prices beyond this quarter, and production in North America has not been able to keep up with demand, while storage levels across North America remain below the 5-year average.”