MPP Mantha investigates gas price gouging in North

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Province imposes fines of up to $500,000 for all those charging unfair prices on products related to protection from COVID-19

ONTARIO – At about the same time as Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Michael Mantha made public that his office has been receiving many calls and email messages from constituents concerning the gasoline price gouging that seems to be quite prevalent in Northern Ontario, the premier of Ontario, Doug Ford, announced two penalties last Friday to combat price gouging and hold offenders accountable for raising prices significantly on the necessary goods Ontarians need to protect themselves and their families from COVID-19.

Mr. Mantha stated in a letter to all constituents, “thank you all for reaching out to my office regarding Northern gas prices. Please note that in this office, we are a small team and we are doing our best to help our constituents as quickly as we can. I do want to let you know that your questions and concerns are seen as both valid and important.”

“As I’m sure you can understand, the government’s policy interventions in response to COVID-19 seem to be evolving by the hour,” wrote Mr. Mantha. “Andrea Horwath, myself and our NDP colleagues’ caucus are working with this government around the clock to try and ensure that your concerns are heard and responded to appropriately.”

“With that in mind, this is something that is very important to us and we absolutely agree that something needs to be done to stop price gouging at the pump,” continued Mr. Mantha. He explained, “the NDP has tabled bills in the past regarding this very issue. We have called on the government to put in place regulations that would prevent gouging and balance gas prices across all of Ontario. We are currently working on developing an online petition that would address this matter. I will be sure to share this petition with you once it becomes available.”

“In the meantime, I will do my best to keep you apprised of any information I receive as this situation continues to unfold and ask that you also keep our office apprised of any responses you do receive from the government,” continued Mr. Mantha. “Thank you again for taking the time to reach out with your concerns; making sure constituents needs are understood and responded to is some of the most vital work we can do during this uncertain time. Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or need any further assistance.”

On March 28, Premier Ford announced new penalties to combat price gouging and hold offenders accountable for raising prices significantly on the necessary goods Ontarians need to protect themselves and their families from COVID-19.

Effective immediately, the government has issued an emergency order stating that retail businesses and individuals in Ontario cannot charge unfair prices for necessary goods.

Individual offenders can face a ticket of $750, or, if summoned to court and convicted, could face a maximum penalty of a $100,000 fine and one year in jail. If convicted, a company director or officer could face a fine of up to $500,000 and up to a year in jail, and a corporation could face a fine of up to $10 million.

“Starting today, we are taking serious steps to ensure our front-line workers, our families and our most vulnerable citizens have what they need to stay safe,” said Premier Ford. “We are putting an end to those trying to profit off of one of the darkest periods in our province’s history. If you’re engaging in price gouging on necessary goods, we are going to slap you with a ticket or you could face fines or jail time.”

Necessary goods include: masks and gloves used as personal protective equipment in relation to infections, non-prescription medications for the treatment of the symptoms of the coronavirus, disinfecting agents intended for cleaning and disinfecting objects or humans, and personal hygiene products such as soap products and paper products.

“As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to evolve provincially and globally, we are seeing a shortage of necessary goods available to the public, such as hand sanitizers and household cleaners,” said Lisa Thompson, minister of Government and Consumer Services. “We will not tolerate those taking advantage of these difficult times to charge unfair and unreasonable prices. It is not right and our government is taking swift and decision action to put an end to it with extremely stiff penalties.”

Consumers can report an individual who is price gouging by filing a complaint at 1-800-889-9768 between 8:30 am and 5 pm, Monday to Friday, or by filing a report online.