Stewardship Ontario – Let’s Dig Deeper

Spokesperson for Stewardship Ontario is Amanda Harper-Sevonty. She was recently Marketing Manager for Jacques Whitford, now owned by Stantec Consulting Ltd, a company we all know has spent the last several years pushing wind projects throughout Ontario using biased environmental reviews complete with PR spin for their valued clients.  (Read Lessons from the Close Enough School of Environmental Assessments)

The new eco-fees levied on various substances/materials (as of July 1) may very well be illegal. At a minimum, there’s been some serious manipulation and subterfuge on the part of Stewardship Ontario.

Toronto Star:   Leaked Internal Memo from Stewardship Ontario:   The eco fee is not mandatory nor is it a tax — stewards have the option to pass the fees they pay Stewardship Ontario on to consumers. As one of the costs of doing business, the eco fee may be reflected in the product’s sticker price — in which case the consumer is none the wiser . . .

Toronto Sun: The new Ontario “eco fees” charged to consumers on thousands of products are illegal, consumer and legal experts say.

“It’s an illegal fee,” Mel Fruitman, vice president of the Consumers’ Association of Canada, told the Toronto Sun. “It’s an add-on fee and there is nobody in this country who is allowed to put on a tax except governments. As far as I can tell, unless they slipped through something quietly in the middle of the night when everybody else was asleep including me, they have no authority to do this.”

“The industry is allowed to self-regulate. The board of Stewardship Ontario is all industry people. They select themselves, they have carte blanche to collect money from consumers and with no obligation to spend it in any particular way,” said Peter Kormos.

More explanation here

According to its annual financial statement of “Stewardship Ontario”, it has assets of over $85 million with over $75 million invested in the stock market. If this non profit agency receives no government funding, where exactly did it get $85M in the first place?, and if none of this money is going to the government, is it going to consultants?

Board of Directors of Stewardship Ontario

  • Justin Sherwood – President, Refreshment Canada (lobby group)
  • Jill Carman – Director, General Mills Canada
  • John Coyne – VP, Unilever Canada
  • Rosanne Angotti – Chief Counsel, Kraft Canada
  • Dianne Brisebois – CEO, Retail Council of Canada (another lobby group)
  • Stephanie Jones – VP, Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (hat trick on lobby group representation).
  • Tamara Burns – VP, Sears Canada Ashley Dent – VP, Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors (lobby group)
  • Vaughn Crofford – President,Canadian Hardware and Housewares Manufacturing Association (repetitive, but yes, another lobby group)
  • John Hinds – CEO, Canadian Newspaper Association (L-O-B-B-Y Group)
  • David Bois – Manager, Home Hardware Stores Ltd.
  • Shannon Coombs – President, Canadian Consumer Specialty Products Association (yep, lobby group)
  • Jim Quick – President, Canadian Paint and Coatings Association (lobby group)
  • Mark Reed – Director, Pennzoil-Quaker State Canada Kent Hatton – Director, Energizer Canada

40 thoughts on “Stewardship Ontario – Let’s Dig Deeper

  1. While we are holding our breath, let’s find out what Stewardship Ontario is doing with all that money. Is it being siphoned off to give the IWT lobby subsidies to continue erecting the useless monstrosities all over the province?

  2. That wouldn’t surprise me.

    These same group of people have been manipulating policy and raking in public money for some time. They’re all connected…around and around in a big circle. The public is only now catching on.

  3. I will reject every single product that reflects this eco fee at the cash register in the store and demand it be taken off my bill before cashing out.

    There is one thing these companies will clearly understand and that is a boycott of their products and services. Retailers who continue to participate in this scam will also lose my business – they can refuse to carry any products with Eco Fees attached.

    Find me a store who rejects this thievery and I will go out of my way to shop there.

    Perhaps a website should be created to list each and every manufacturer and product involved so people can more easily plan to avoid purchasing them from this point forward.

    Secretive manupulation of free markets and theft of our hard earned dollars through such corporate collusion belongs either in jail or bankruptcy – I am prepared to do my part to point these companies in the right direction!

  4. I am sure you are correct MA – it appears they have assumed a sense of invulnerability with their collusion – little do they know that they can do nothing unless we continue to allow it.

    Perhaps the best approach is to punish them one at a time! Randomely select products and/or stores and boycott them for a long enough period to cause substantial pain. Then move to on to another.

    It would take some organization – but then it would really be worth watching them beg for public forgiveness.

    Some may recover – some may not – but you can bet that a large number of these rats will abandon ship once it starts taking on water.

  5. I’m not sure the individual stores have a choice. This is an edict from King McGuinty.

    The products themselves are exactly the ones that the social engineers WANT us to boycott.

    Judging by alot of comments in other articles, the public is 95% against this. It is illegal. Taxation without representation. I’ve already written a letter to the Ombudsman and the Auditor General.

    The Conservatives are just sitting back, not saying a word. They know McGuinty has finally been given enough rope.

    I want to see the full money trail of this latest scam.

  6. I drive transport: long haul stateside and across Canada

    Guess where I’ll be shopping?

    These guys have gone way above and beyond the ridiculous.

  7. How can she do both these jobs? I continue to be stunned at the level of corruption – though nothing surprises me.

  8. If this is not stopped then how far will they go? Very doubtful they will be satisfied for long. I will refuse to buy anything with this charge. If the product is needed find a source that does not charge, otherwise stop buying.

  9. Zen2then,

    If you stop buying that product… they win. That is the purpose of the eco tax/fee. It is to make you buy green products. They know you will resent buying stuff bad for the environment with an added fee/tax. They think this will force the manufacturers to make their product green to sell or go bankrupt. Sounds good but it is a dictatorship. If we use vinegar and water, for cleaning, baking soda for brushing your teeth etc. we can be Eco friendly but we will destroy a consumerist economy. Lot’s of profit has been made on crappy , lying products but we have become a consumer society and believed the TV ads. I do not want to pay this illegal fee/tax. The sneaky way it appeared is an insult. I will just use up the products I have and think about some tricks my Gran told me about . But when products don’t sell and companies lay off or go bust … Ontario goes down the tubes. Add that to the IWT debacle and we best be defecting or seceding. Funny how on the one hand McSlppery tries to force us to use green products and on the other he makes people sick and slaughters birds.
    Hope someone decks the guy…… before he loses the next election.

  10. They only win if they get money from us. The fee appears to be illegal but the only choice to avoid the fee is not purchase products with the fee. There are alternatives, but if you need a puffer, what choice do you have? Finding a source that does not charge can mean out of province shopping. Is that great for Ontario? No, but we didn’t cause this problem and why are we expected to keep paying for bad government decisions.

  11. I’m in no way defending these fees or the government, but haven’t they been around since July 1, 2008?

  12. I appreciate the forward thinking and the opinions of MA and Melodie however, I do believe that we must immediately strike back against these crooks – and their enablers at Queen’s Park, effectively.

    A cursory look at the Board of Directors of Stewardship Ontario indicates that large corporations, who depend on very important daily expenditures by residents of Ontario, are well represented.

    An immediate strike at the very heart of this organization, seems to be logical. We should immediately select a target and see what impact we can inflict. Here is a list of Stewarship Ontario Directors (remember they are taking your money out of your pocket and they will spend it in any way they choose – no questions asked, no rules in place)…

    •Ian Anderson, President, CKF Incorporated
    •Debbie Baxter, Chief Sustainability Officer, LoyaltyOne Incorporated
    •Tamara Burns, Divisional VP Specialty Services, Leisure and Seasonal, Sears
    •John Coyne, VP, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, Unilever Canada Inc.
    •Robert Chant, VP, Corporate Affairs, Loblaw Companies Ltd.
    •Ron Davidson, VP, Human Resources, Apotex Incorporated
    •Calla Farn, VP, Government, Public Affairs and Corporate Affairs, McCain Foods
    •Mark Malo, President, Clorox Company of Canada Ltd.
    •Sylvain Mayrand, Executive Vice President, A. Lassonde Industries Incorporated
    •Reg McLay, SVP Marketing & Sourcing Services, Canadian Tire Corporation
    •Brian Prendergast, Senior VP, Consumer, Recochem Incorporated
    •Gordon Meyer, Business Unit Director, Food and Beverage, Pet Care and Home Care, Procter & Gamble

    CKF Inc produces Royal Chinet paper products. Loyalty one is Air Miles. Apotex is a pharmaceutical company that produces a large range of generic drugs.

    Each and every one mentioned above has a product or products to sell and every one of them will respond to a province wide boycott. I have no preference – I would be willing to immediately stop purchasing any product produced by say, McCain Foods – and to stop shopping at perhaps, Canadian Tire – until such time as these companies announce that they have withdrawn all support from ill-conceived program.

    It does not matter who we choose – the ultimate action will be directed at those who believe they can restructure our society from an elitist, corporatist position.

    This is exactly how we, in a free and democratic society, must respond to those who threaten us. We excercise our rights to spend OUR money where we want to spend it.

    We say yes or no to taxation by voting into power those who control such measures. We do not allow corporations with appointed directors who are accountable and responsible to nobody to take control of these matters.

    This is corporatism run amuck – Melodie, this is not the democratic society you want to protect – and if we don’t put a stop to it now, very soon, you soon won’t recognize it, believe me.

    We are living a nightmare where huge corporations have seized control of our government – where citizens no longer matter (I am surprised they haven’t made a board decision at Queen’s Park that elections cost too much, they deplete the bottom line and therefore voting will be suspended until further notice).

    When the corporations of this world begin to gather together in clandestine groups designed to deceive the public at large, in secret pursuit of a political agenda to alter or undermine the very foundations of the society in which we live, “we the people” must rise up and destroy them – just as assuredly as we breathed life into them in the first place!

  13. Oh, nevermind. I read the Windsor Star article. 5000 MORE products. Lovely.

    Vote them out!

  14. Hear, Hear PECV! Have as little to do with these corporations as possible. This is wrong, wrong, wrong.

  15. Pay your Eco fee separately by credit card for all purchases. This costs the store a VISA transaction fee. The stores are the only ones who can push pressure back on legislators.
    Any Eco fee should go directly back to waste management. Stewardship Ontario is not a transparent organization. True recyclers would have a return policy with a deposit. That would ensure transparency.

  16. I just realized. Ontario is the first place in the world that’s now become an official Corporatocracy.

    McGuinty has now imposed a tax that, rather going to democratically-elected government, goes directly into the hands of corporations with no accountability to the public.

    Pretty sweet, huh?

  17. Who is paying the Eco-Fees on the 20,000 Wind Turbines that are being installed all over Ontario ?

    How much will it cost to remove all of the concrete and pieces of Industrial Junk associated with these Wind Farms ?

    I’ll bet that the disposition costs for these Industrial Junk Yards will exceed all the energy that they produce over a 10 to 20 year period…

    Why wouldn’t the municipalities and counties take the initiative and start assessing Eco-Fees since this appears to be in line with Ontario Liberal Government Policy ? ….better wake up…

    How is Stewardship Ontario planning to charge the farmers and the Wind Energy Companies for the Eco-fees or are they going to try and stick the local governments and tax-payers with the bill to dispose of the pieces of Industrial Junk ?

    It appears to be Government Policy to just try and stick the public with the disposal bill because the Ontario Liberal Government allows Stewardship Ontario to “self-regulate”….

    Welcome to the Corporatocracy….

  18. From the Loyalist Township Council (it’s just west of Kingston, and is potentially the closest council to the Wolfe Island Shoals project) came this:

    “At the June 28, 2010 meeting, Council asked how a company like Wolfe Island Wind Shoals could negotiate to secure 48,000 acres of the lake bed, without going through a public process.”

    How, indeed? I’m afraid I agree with MA, this has become bigger than just wind turbines. If it smells fishy it probably is, and the ECO tax arrangement is pretty smelly. I have to wonder, at what point might the feds come in?

  19. FOLKS LETS START THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX AS WELL

    Let’s show the Retailer’s of Ontario how wise we consumers can be.

    As of July 01 2020 most if not all commerce through Ontario as a cost of doing business has elected to either roll in ECO charges into product sticker prices where it is not noticed by the consumer or such charges are revealed separately per ECO product on the consumer’s cash register receipt.

    As bizarre as all of this it’s been said that these (charges/fees) monies collected will never be seen by the Ontario Government or Stewardship Ontario Board.

    The Toronto Star has quoted Environment Minister John Gerretsen with regards to recycling fees are:

    – “not a tax grab”

    – “Look, (with) all of the programs – whether we’re talking about Stewardship Ontario, municipal hazardous waste . . . the tire programs or what have you – these are fees that are being charged by the stewardship councils to make sure that the products are being recycled properly,”

    – “As part of that, we’ve allowed them a fee if the retailer wants to charge that – sometimes the retailer charges it, sometimes they don’t — in order to operate the stewardship councils, to collect the material, to transport the material to make sure that it’s properly recycled,”
    – “We want to make sure this stuff stays out of landfill sites so that we don’t end up with contaminated landfill sites, of which we have many in the province of Ontario. In the long run (those) will take a heck of a lot of money to rehabilitate, to remediate.”
    http://www.thestar.com/news/ontario/article/834285–eco-fee-agency-says-levies-could-be-buried-in-price?bn=1

    Further the Toronto Star quoted MPP Peter Kormos with regards to Stewardship Ontario’s problems:

    – “The industry is allowed to self-regulate. The board of Stewardship Ontario is all industry people. They select themselves, they have carte blanche to collect money from consumers and with no obligation to spend it in any particular way,” said Kormos.
    – “There are no real guidelines for how they invest that money. Nothing about this new eco-tax seems designed to ensure that toxic products, like dry-cell batteries, actually get back into appropriate facilities.”

    Now the point that I would like to impress upon is the following:

    Stewardship Ontario was created by the Ontario Government to make sure that all the products listed on the Steward Ontario’s Fee Schedule which are hazardous do not end up in landfill sites. Well then let’s make these Stewards who are charging consumers knowingly or otherwise be the ones responsible for making sure that these hazardous products do not end up in Ontario’s landfill sites. In order to do this as consumers we need to take back the residual of these products purchased as listed within the Stewardship Ontario’s Fee Schedule to the RETAILERS.

    http://www.stewardshipontario.ca/sites/default/files/StewardFees.pdf

    Stewardship Ontario defines their business as:

    “Originally established in 2004 to serve as a financing organization mandated under the Waste Diversion Act to raise industry funds to reimburse municipalities for 50% of the costs of Blue Box recycling. Stewardship Ontario has since evolved into a reverse supply chain business. We are responsible for the end-of-life management of several materials including paint, batteries, solvents, oil filters, oil containers, antifreeze, pesticides, fertilizers and pressurized containers. The municipal hazardous and special waste program launched on July 1, 2008 – 2009 marked the first full year of operation for that program.

    “While our financing mandate continues under the shared responsibility model for the recycling of residentially generated printed paper and packaging, our direct end-of-life management responsibilities have led to the acquisition of new competencies and the development of a new strategic direction. We are no longer just in the business of funding sustainability – we are in the business of doing it.”

    See page 27 of the Stewardship Ontario document 2009 Annual Report “Thinking beyond the box.”
    http://www.stewardshipontario.ca/sites/default/files/docs/SO_AR_2009_Addendum_r1.pdf

    If Stewardship Ontario has evolved in a reverse supply chain business where they claim to be in charge for the end-of-life management for the products listed within their Fee Schedule that the consumer is being charged for, then let Stewardship Ontario be the ones totally responsible for the collection of these products at these stores.

    We spend a whole lot of time throughout each week whether we are on our way to or from work or otherwise at the local grocery store, hardware store, drug store, paint store, and automotive store where we will purchase many of the items listed within the ECO Fee Schedule. So why not drop off these end-of-life products (residual product) at these stores rather than taking them to the landfill sites/transfer stations locations on our dime.

    As an example, how much of these products do we go through in a given month; cooking spray, paint spray, foundation spray, hair spray, air freshener spray, sun block spray, bug spray, lubricant spray, rust inhibitor spray and everything else that can be sprayed out of can. For the return of the residual products it doesn’t matter whether we purchased that specific product at that store or not. You can be guaranteed that the merchant at the store you are shopping at will be selling some sort of brand type as mentioned above and they will be charging the ECO fee.

    How many things do we have around the house that uses batteries? They are on the ECO Fee Schedule. How much laundry detergents, stain removers, disinfectants, bleach and hand soaps does a household go through in a given period?

    How many automotive supplies such oil, oil filters, windshield washer, lubricating fluids, power steering, brake and other petroleum based products does a household go through?

    It won’t take you very long to come to realize that there are a whole lot of products that you’re purchasing that will have an ECO fee attached to the price. Merchants will, I am sure, hide these fees within the price of the product otherwise they will be refilling their register tape every half hour.

    As Ontarians we are paying the ECO fee so if we are going to be paying let’s save ourselves some time by dropping off a bag of end-of-life products prior to purchasing more at these stores.

    It seems that no matter where we go, what we do, no matter what we buy, we being told/asked that we have do this or that and I am tired of having to pay and being told what to do. I am now thinking outside the box. In any event by doing this you will know that Stewardship Ontario and the Liberal Government will be doing such a professorial job in looking after all of the hazardous material products that they believe that we are hiding in our garbage.

    By the way I will be making up some sort of an explanatory card that will be left with my bags of end-of-life product that I will return to the retailer. Remember, most if not all of these retailers have shopping carts that will be able to hold plenty of products.

  20. I can go to sleep tonight with a warm and fuzzy feeling and a smile on my face – knowing that Anonymous actually had to recommend a Christie Blatchford comment – surely the first time ever (and likely the last).

    Of course, this clearly supports MA’s comments elsewhere that the left and the right – political parties, have nothing to do with it and that intelligent and thoughtful people look at issues – often taking different sides or positions based on their understanding and sensibilities.

    As much as I usually find myself in Ms. Blatchford’s corner (a foreign place for you, Anonymous?) – we will have to disagree on this one as my preference is to live with an honest government that works hard to find workable solutions rather than hiding their true agenda, breaking the public trust and trashing the constitution – all the while increasing taxes and fees to pad the pockets of their corporate buddies and supporters.

    Isn’t democracy wonderful – it allows us to disagree with someone whom we would normally agree – and it allows Anonymous to anonymously recommend the opinion of someone he would normally never would!

  21. I hate to be the cynic in the bunch, and typically love hating the big bad corporation.

    The problem here is that consumers are paying the fees regardless: The money that you pay as an ‘eco-fee’ is going towards the safe management of end-of-life goods such as batteries and motor oil (which damage the environment when simply thrown into a landfill due to leachate). It is offsetting the cost born by your municipality to manage those materials — and guess what — if your municipality was ‘paying’ for it, you’d be paying for it to through your municipal taxes.

    Yes, it sucks that this came out so deviously — but either way you, the consumer, will pay. At least Stewardship Ontario will have to publish where it spends the eco-fee revenues. Your municipal government certainly doesn’t have to itemize such a report!

  22. Yes, we understand that, BOTB

    So does that mean my munipal taxes are going to go down? I doubt it.

    Please explain to me why this is on consumables. How is it going to help the environment by me paying some entity money? The laundry detergent still goes down the drain.

    I am still the one who is responsible for recycling or using any product. My closest drop off point is 18 miles away and I don’t live in the boondocks. There is one drop off point in my entire county.

    Who gets to set these rates? Are they elected, accountable people? Or do we just have to trust them because they are green? If my local government mishandles my tax dollars, I can kick them out. Stewardship Ontario has no accountability to the public whatsoever.

  23. Is somebody going to come to my place and reclaim and safely dispose that ‘irritant’ dish detergent that is in my septic bed if I pay the extra couple of cents…? It just doesn’t add up, just like wind turbines….

  24. This Eco Tax is getting far too much coverage while the real scam is going full steam ahead!….Wind

    I’m sorry but this is just another “red herring” to get everyone worked up and allow the opposition to show people they really “care” about us!

    Ha!..McGuinty will cancel this “tax” and then everyone can go right back to sleep and let the turbines roll!!!!!!

    GEEZ!

  25. Quixote is right. The eco tax will be taken care of in another forum, in fact it is bad enough for most people to agree to get rid of and they will. Industrial wind is much larger and should not get hidden behind this smaller tax scam.

  26. When are we as Canadians living in Ontario going to stop whinning and do something about Stewardship Ontario and the Eco “TAX” we are now paying. We talk and talk, but never stand firm for what we know is wrong. Come on people of Ontario, stand up and find out through the press what is actually happening with this “TAX”. I don’t have to tell you that fixed income people with take a real hit with this one.

  27. check your facts….I do not work for Stantec….I did work for Jacques Whitford, which Stantec purchased in January of 2009. I left there in June of 2009.

    i would strongly advise you to change this slanderous information about me on your website.

    Best Regard,
    Amanda Harper Sevonty

  28. Ms. Harper-Sevonty.

    Thank you for setting the record straight. Correction has been made.

    This was not meant to accuse you of anything personally. It is meant to show how executives in the environmental industry and lobbyists are very good at trampling over the rights of the citizens if it suits their cause.

    I find it very odd, Ms. Harper-Sevonty, that I am reading in all the articles that Stewardship Ontario cannot be reached for comment. Yet, as spokesperson for Stewardship Ontario, you have time to come and leave a comment on our little old blog?

  29. Today’s paper Ms Harper-Sevonty is quoted “It’s not a tax grab”, she said. “These are fees that are levied on industry.” Then why are we paying them? On dish detergent, laundry products, grass seed, prescriptions. It’s supposed to be used for recycling costs? Who recycles grass seed? Oops I bought too much, I guess I’ll put it in the blue box?

  30. I’m confused, if Ms Harper-Sevonty didn’t leave until June of 2009 and Jacques Whitford was bought prior to this in Jan.2009, by Stantec, wouldn’t one who was an employee of Jacques Whitford now be an employee of Stantec. Interesting! how such a minor point was raised by Amanda when she could clearly indicate to us how this fee will make a difference in removing these thousands of products we use from harming our environment. If it means our municipality could get a kick back for their recycling programs, than maybe we are talking rather than making consumer pay at the property tax level and also at the retail level.

  31. Why are all these non-recyclables being charged an eco fee? Probably because some green elitist crusader decided that the public must pay the price for using such evil products. It is basically a sin tax. Where does the money for non-recyclables end up? Beats me! Somebody’s making a tidy profit.

  32. So many questions………..so few answers………maybe now that the OPP are digging into the operations of the Ontario Ministries we may get a few!!!!!!

    All it will take is one poor disgruntled employee when faced with “corruption charges” to “spill the beans” on the whole organization!

    Have a nice summer Public Servants!

  33. That’s it MA….a SIN TAX!!! Now I get it! Anything that could cause a pang of guilt (but grass seed? I’ve never felt guilty seeding grass…), I should be paying a tax for to give to some obscure organization that will do God nows what with the money…probably invest in wind turbines.

  34. I read Amanda Harper Sevonty saying stewardship ON job is “to communicate”. Yet they refused to respond to media and have removed their facebook page. Since they didnt do any advertising about the eco fee in advance, the $4m+ marketing budget for the road show and “new media’ just means driving a truck around handing out shopping bags (its laughable if you’ve seen it), and twittering to their *36* followers? Some “communication”!

    The one news release they made friday completely contradicts the responses they have been sending out that previously said retailers could charge what they want.

  35. It seems that everyone is pissed off at this NOT an ECO TAX, but no one wants to do anything about it at a personal level, it’s very simple.

    The very first time you are charged NOT an ECO TAX by a retailer upon your next visit drop off a load end of life product listed on the Schedule at their store, they charge YOU for it, then THEY can pay to get rid of it. The Liberal government doesn’t listen to the tax payer however they listen to big business, if big business complains about the amount of garbage that they can’t take the land fill sites then maybe something will get done. Make every retailer an Orange Drop Zone your going there anyway, or stop complaining about the Not and ECO TAX?

    Hay, Amanda Harper Sevonty, what do think about making every retailer who charges this ECO FEE a Orange Drop Zone?

  36. Since all of these “Stewards” have business connections and will influence the price consumers pay for products they either manufacture or sell, this unaccountable McGuinty Ontario Liberal sanctioned group could easily be breaking international trade agreements.

    They could for example target a product from another country that contains ingredient “y” while their own company in Canada conveniently eliminates that ingredient from their formula. Their product now becomes cheaper because it is not subject to the eco fee. It would be anti competition and unfair in an open market. You cannot give this kind of power to lobbyists. Time to warn other countries.

    This was a terrible decision by McGuinty and the Ontario Liberal Party. They will regret this when their party fades into oblivion. To quote the now famous Forrest Gump “Stupid is as stupid does my mama always says”

  37. Hey, I enjoyed your article it is very informative. Keep up the good work.

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