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Lower gas prices through lower merchant fees, says Senator Pierrette Ringuette

OTTAWA – In light of Minister of Industry Tony Clement’s sudden interest in gas prices and his call for the oil industry to appear before committee, Senator Pierrette Ringuette has once again called upon the government to step in and start regulating Canada’s exorbitant merchant fees:


“Minister Clement wants the oil industry to explain high gas prices.  We know one of the factors why gas prices are so high is the merchant fee charged by Visa and Mastercard.  The government can take action right away.


Every credit card transaction at the pumps costs the retailer up to 3% of the purchase price in merchant fees. These fees pad the pockets of VISA, MasterCard and financial institutions; companies that are making record profits.


The costs of these merchant fees are passed onto all consumers, regardless of their method of payment.

These fees also hurt small independent gas retailers who do not benefit from the increased prices; a large part of that increased revenue goes to credit card companies and financial institutions.


When gas goes up from $1.01 dollars to $1.31, the retailer margin only increases by about 1%, while credit card companies charging a 3% merchant fee, to almost 30% of additional profit for Visa, MasterCard and financial institutions.


The Harper government could have acted years ago, like Australia and New Zealand did, and saved Canadians billions of dollars by capping fees. We have some of the highest merchant fees in the world and we are lagging far behind most developed nations in regulating the industry.


Minister Clement wants more talk, more investigation, but this is not a new issue. What Canadians need is not more words, but more action.


Minister Clement and Stephen Harper are in a position to help Canadians now and, on behalf of all Canadians gouged by high gas prices, I ask them to step down from the soapbox and actually do something.”