Ontario eco fees cost millions to cancel


Ontario taxpayers are on the hook for millions of dollars for shutting down the eco fee program introduced last July and then quickly cancelled, Environment Minister John Wilkinson confirmed Monday.

The province expected it would cost $8 million a year to keep six key items targeted by the eco fees — fire extinguishers, syringes, medications, rechargeable batteries, products with mercury and compact fluorescent light bulbs — out of landfills.

However, Stewardship Ontario, the agency that runs the blue box program and was responsible for the eco fees, is also looking to recover stranded costs from eco fees that it estimates at $10 million.

That figure is “wildly inflated,” said Wilkinson.

“It’s completely wrong. I can assure you the $18 million number is wrong,” he said. “We’re not going to be paying that, and we will disclose what our actual cost is.”

Eco fees ranging from a few cents to a few dollars were added to about 9,000 household products such as laundry detergent, cleaners and fertilizer on July 1, the same day Ontario moved to a single 13 per cent harmonized sales tax.

However, widespread confusion among shoppers and retailers, and a growing consumer backlash, quickly prompted the Liberals to cancel the eco fees.

The Opposition said the extra tab for shutting down the failed eco fee program shows how poorly designed it was in the first place.

“It was very underhanded when they tried to sneak it in on Canada Day with the HST, and now we find out they want to go to taxpayers for $18 million to try to get out of it,” said Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak.

‘What a mess’

“What a mess. It should not be on the back of Ontario families who already paid through the nose for that eco tax grab.”

Producers of the products should be designing them with less packaging and fewer toxins, and should also pay for their disposal instead of sticking taxpayers with the tab, said the New Democrats.

“The point should be for them to go back to the drawing board and start getting serious about reducing the toxins that are involved in the products they produce,” said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath.

“That’s where the responsibility should be, on the corporate sector, not foisted back on the taxpayer.”

However, the government doesn’t want to drive up the cost of items it wants consumers to buy, like fire extinguishers and energy efficient light bulbs.

“We do not believe that the cost of those should go up for consumers,” said Wilkinson.

“We need people to have fire extinguishers and compact fluorescent light bulbs.”

Despite the failure of the eco fees program, Ontario consumers continue to pay extra fees when they buy new tires for their vehicles or purchase electronics such as televisions and new computers to help keep the products out of landfills.

Premier Dalton McGuinty was asked repeatedly Monday about the $18-million bill for winding up the eco fee program, but he ignored the question every time and instead talked about his government’s record on health care.

5 thoughts on “Ontario eco fees cost millions to cancel

  1. “We’re not going to be paying that, and we will disclose what our actual cost is.”

    “…he ignored the question every time and instead talked about his government’s record on health care.”
    Lots of straight answers from Dalton. His classic stick your head in the sand approach.

  2. So what we are saying here is that McGuinty told US publicly he had cancelled the eco-fee program yet he DIDN’T?

    In other words HE LIED to us and in continuing to charge us fees on products that aren’t supposed to be there, then isn’t that called THEFT?

    Then that would be an offence that the Police could charge him and his Government with?

  3. Whatever Wilkinson says can not be believed. By lying over and over again and getting caught doing so, Wilkinson has shown us that his character is flawed and his word is no longer good. Anyone who now believes anything Wilkinson, Duguid or Mc Guinty says is a fool! They can not change their character before the next election either. Once caught in a lie and your credibility is forever shot.

  4. Big problem folks
    The exact same type Lies & outright Theft were taking place before the last election, & Ont. voters didn`t mind a bit.They re-elected the corrupt, incompetent,lying bastards,with an even bigger(I think)majority than the first time.
    In other words they condoned the criminality of the government,making them all culpable,& arguably (in my opinion) guilty of treason.Look what Libs.have done to destroy our once proud & productive province.
    The global recession had almost nothing to do with Ontarios demise.We went down long before then.
    The recession was a Godsend to McGuilty. It gave him a much needed excuse,for his destruction & saved his crooked ass.
    This is why we need more prisons.To lock up all the corrupt politicians, of all stripes.
    I threw those last 3 words in for you Quixote,(of all stripes).

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