Dawson Students on the Rise of Gas Prices
A new source of anxiety for already stressed-out students
Via Jean-Claude Taliana/Radio-Canada
If every driver’s wallet in Quebec has been taking a hard hit for the past months at the gas pump, it’s easily arguable that Montreal students are among the ones gasping the loudest when filling up their tanks. When gas reached its highest point on the island last month, according to CAA Quebec, Montrealers could expect to pay 60% more than at its lowest point in the past year. “At gas station pumps, you can see how much the last person paid, and it’s not uncommon to see over 100 dollars on the screens right now”, says Matthew Saad, a General Social Science student at Dawson.
Gas prices popping up in Montreal are primarily the result of the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia. Russia is one of the world’s largest oil producers in the world but, as part of sanctions for their inhumane invasion of Ukraine, Canada has cut Russian oil imports, a decision made to impact Russia’s economy. As of April 7th, The US has also followed Canada’s footsteps, and other European countries are thinking about doing the same. Factors like inflation and the growing oil supply shortages can also be considered. Furthermore, Montreal pays a higher gas tax than the rest of Quebec—and all of Canada—creating a perfect storm for oil prices to soar.
Students are immensely impacted by the rise of gas prices as they are already stuck between a housing crisis, rising inflation rates and cost of living, as well as high tuition costs. Luckily, many Dawson students are already taking public transit as the school is blessed with its own entry from the Atwater metro, but it has still changed the way they live.
Sammy Péladeau, a Modern Languages student at Dawson, explains, “As a young student, driving was one of the ways for me to feel free, to have no limits. I’m from a small town far away, and my friends and boyfriend still live there. The fact that gas prices are this high doesn’t allow me to see them. […] Lately, it’s choosing between eating or seeing my friends.”
Other than the social context, it’s also a source of stress for other students. Alessio Guzzo, a Graphic Design student at Dawson, says, “As a student, I work part-time and barely make enough to pay for school supplies, so the added expense of extra cost for gas is a struggle.” Matthew Saad also noted that when public transport isn’t readily available where a student lives–or if it’s simply not an option–it can add a lot of anxiety to said student's wallet.
This is the case for Qassam Azara, an Internet and Robotics student at St-Laurent Cegep in Montreal. “I thought about using public transportation more, but there are a lot of drawbacks. COVID is one of my main problems because the buses and subways are always crowded, and I wouldn't want to risk catching it and infecting my family. I would also have to get up earlier and take public transportation for a total of 3 hours each way and also if the buses don't show up or are late, some teachers aren't very reasonable with delays to their classes,” he explains. Azara continues, “As a full-time student and worker, it is very hard to see prices going up so quickly while keeping the same salary. I have to spend more and more of my paycheck just to get to work or school. It has definitely caused more anxiety and stress seeing that I have to calculate how I will spend my earnings on gas, food, bills, and other things.”
For now, students who wish to relieve some stress because of gas prices can benefit from services like GasBuddy and Gasoline Watch from CAA Quebec. The former is a website that lets you compare prices from all the gas stations in your area to see which one offers the lowest price. All the prices come from users who update the website themselves, but you can see when the price was last updated. As for Gasoline Watch, this useful service tells you whether it’s worth it to gas up on a certain day by comparing the realistic price to the average pump price.
To ease the burden on Quebecers, the Legault government thought about suspending the gas tax. However, that idea has been ruled out on grounds that it would profit gas companies instead of consumers. Fortunately, anything that goes up suddenly is bound to fall, and gas prices seem to be following that pattern, although they’ve stalled for now. In a month, prices dropped about 0.10$ on average.