QUEEN’S PARK – The cost of living in rural Ontario is set to become more affordable.

The price of gasoline dropped about five cents a litre yesterday as the cost of the cap-and-trade carbon tax was removed from gasoline.

“Cars and gasoline are essential to rural life, and by raising taxes on fuel, it was making life in rural Ontario more expensive,” said Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett. “The former government never understood there are no transit options in rural Ontario.”

At the International Plowing Match in Chatham-Kent, Premier Doug Ford announced a program to facilitate natural gas expansion in rural and northern Ontario through a partnership with local communities and private partners.

The government is introducing legislation to develop the new natural gas program. Under the previous government’s restrictions, private sector companies were limited from participating in natural gas expansion, portions of which were instead managed by a taxpayer-funded program. 

If passed, the Ford government’s new program would encourage more private gas distributors to partner with communities to develop projects that expand access to affordable and efficient natural gas.

The proposed new program can deliver decades of benefits to potentially dozens of communities across Ontario at no additional costs to the taxpayers while keeping existing natural gas costs low. 

Switching to natural gas can save an average residential customer between $800 and $2,500 a year.

“Increasing natural gas availability will help people in Haldimand and Norfolk,” Barrett said. “There are many parts of the riding, including my home, that don’t have natural gas options. This is exciting news for the riding that will make life more affordable.

“Expanding natural gas will make Ontario communities more attractive for job creation and new businesses,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Infrastructure. 

“This is part of our government’s plan to bring quality jobs back to Ontario and to send the clear message that Ontario is Open for Business.”