Our low fuel prices make it possible for food distributors or retailers to buy from producers in low income countries where wages are far lower than in Canada. The result is that even after adding the cost of transportation, imported products are often cheaper than local producers can afford to produce the same products. Even in higher income locations like California, local rules allow workers to be paid on a “piece rate” basis (e.g. a few cents for each tomato harvested), which effectively work out to a net hourly payment of only $4 to $6, far below the minimum wage in Canada.
If the price of fuel was set at a level that fully captured both the direct and indirect environmental and social costs, the cost of transportation would be much higher and local food producers would be much more price competitive.