High fuel prices create woes for Sask. truckers, carriers

On top of the high gas prices, people are also facing higher costs for food and other goods.

Sukhchain Sanghera turned down a delivery job on Monday, figuring he would be better off staying home and working on his truck.

With fuel prices exceedingly high, Sanghera said he would have been at loss if he decided to drive a load to California.

“They are not paying me enough and fuel prices are very high,” said Sanghera, who owns trucking company Henry Sanghera Transport in Regina. “That’s why I’m not going today.”

Sanghera isn’t alone in his concerns as trucking and courier companies deal with higher fuel prices across Saskatchewan and North America.

Higher demand for fuel, coupled with the war in Ukraine and sanctions on Russia, has caused pump prices to increase.

Some analysts believe prices could spike further this summer, largely driven by the switch from winter to summer gasoline — an increase that Sanghera said will be difficult to bear.

“Even though I don’t know what will happen, I think there may be a big crisis,” he said.

While larger companies are still affected, Sanghera explained they are able to buy bulk fuel at a lower price through contracts. Smaller companies aren’t able to get better rates.

“We are a small company and we may not be able to keep it up,” he said. “Maybe there will be more bankruptcies.”

Rod Olyowsky, the operations manager with Cara Dawn Transport in Regina, said the company recently had to add a fuel surcharge to deliveries in order to stabilize costs.

While he said those costs will be passed down to customers, his clients understand the rationale.

“Most of them are cognizant of the fact that the price of fuel has gone stupid since the end of February,” he said. “It’s significant.”

People who provide ride-share services, like taxis, are also feeling the pinch.

Pardeep Kumar who offers rideshare services in Regina stands for a portrait beside his vehicle on Monday.
Pardeep Kumar who offers rideshare services in Regina stands for a portrait beside his vehicle on Monday. Photo by KAYLE NEIS /Regina Leader-Post

Pardeep Kumar, who delivers ride-share services in Regina, said he’s cut down his hours and no longer offers long-distance trips because of high gas prices.

He said he hasn’t increased his fees because he finds people aren’t willing to pay more.

“It comes out of my own pocket. That’s why I’m reducing my ride time,” he said.

But it’s not just gas that’s gone up, Kumar added. He said he’s seen prices for food and other necessities also increase.

Inflation in Canada is already running at a 30-year high, hitting 5.7 per cent in February and expected to increase further. Supply chain issues, as well as high demand, have meant bigger prices.

While the Bank of Canada has increased interest rates last week to help tackle the issue, Kumar said he’s feeling the pinch.

“We are seeing the high costs at the store, but my wage isn’t being increased, so we are getting less now,” he said.

Sanghera said tires are more expensive, adding that the cost of a truck trailer has nearly doubled from $45,000 to $90,000.

“It’s $90,000 and it’s still not available,” he said. “Everything is double the price now.”

While Sanghera said fuel subsidies for trucking companies could be an option to lessen the pressure, he isn’t optimistic.

“It is a very hard time for trucking companies because the fuel prices went up,” he said.

Similarly, Olyowsky said there’s no quick fix to the issue.

While he said understands a stay on collecting gas taxes has been floated, he doesn’t think it’ll happen because of the “green push” from the federal government.

“I completely understand that we have changed the climate on the planet, but everybody’s chirping about it and nobody has come up with a viable solution,” he said. “We could get rid of the carbon tax. That would help a little, but it amounts to a couple pennies per litre. Nothing is simple anymore.”