Eco-Fees in Ontario

Ontarians were surprised to discover that they are being charged more for products after July 1st, thanks to a new ‘eco-fee’.

The eco-fee is charged as a way of recouping the cost of handling waste from products, packaging and containers.

Every municipality in Ontario charges property taxes, part of which pays for the collection and disposal of household waste.  Simply put, the eco-fee is double-dipping, making consumers pay again for a service they already pay for in property taxes.

The program is run by a group called Stewardship Ontario.  The program  works like this, manufacturers or brand owners who have any form of residency in the province are required to pay a fee for everything they import, sell or produce according to the fee schedule found here (pdf):

What do businesses get in return for the fee?  That’s not clear, Stewardship Ontario says:

‘The fees we charge our stewards reflect the cost of recovering and processing these materials’

Stewardship Ontario was stung by harsh media criticism of the program and issued a statement to ‘clarify’ eco-fees:

# The eco fee is a “hidden” tax grab and an attempt to extort money from “struggling families” already hit by the GST.
Our Message: 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. Or it may be itemized on the cash register receipt and added to the product price at checkout. In either case, none of the monies collected in the form of eco fees go to government or Stewardship Ontario.

The convoluted logic to claim eco-fees are not mandatory goes like this: manufacturers or brand-owners are required to pay appropriate fees to Stewardship Ontario.  But manufacturers or brand owners have a choice about whether or not to pass on this new cost of doing business in the province.  Therefore eco-fees are not mandatory.

Technically the claim that the eco-fee is not a tax is correct, as the money doesn’t go to government.  But it is a levy on business, backed by law, or a tax by any other name.  To claim otherwise is political posturing and semantics, and people are not fooled.

Businesses are being rational actors by passing on costs to consumers and because Stewardship Ontario finds it inconvenient that their green cash grab has been exposed doesn’t alter that fact.  Remember also the eco-fee comes not only on top of property taxes, but also the 5 cent per plastic bag fee required in Toronto, charged  province-wide by many businesses.

Once more the Ontario consumer is asked to pay too much for too little return, and the province becomes just a little bit less competitive.

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10 thoughts on “Eco-Fees in Ontario”

  1. But eco-fee money does go to Stewardship Ontario, because the businesses are required to pony up. And of course business will pass this cost on to consumers — why wouldn’t they?

    As for Stewardship Ontario — who the hell are they? Who made them the jolly Green Giant? Is it a government body or a private business cashing in on eco-bullshit?

  2. I can’t figure out exactly who SO are. They likely figure that the good sheeple of Ontario are content to pay and not ask awkward questions.

    I’ll see if I can figure out the answers to your questions.

  3. Another bend over and tax on the Ontarians! I have yet to be surprised by any new under-the-radar taxes that green fuhrer mcguinty lets pass.

    However…this little price increase is exactly what they need to get the people riled up about the HST. this could serve as the sword that kills the HST and to FINALLY get Ontarians pissed enough to curbstomp mcguinty’s career.

    I don’t care how “liberal” you are, once people are being overtaxed, unrest is usually not too far behind.

  4. I have just found out about the Eco Fee. Why weren’t we informed ahead of time,they give us the HST and suddenly hit us with this eco tax as well.
    Ofcourse we knew about it when buying new tires for the car, and some other things, but now it’s on everything?
    Even prescriptions? Are we now punishing people for being ill? Most likely pensioners, who are most likely the ones with most of the prescriptions due to age.We worked like fools all our lives, paid our taxes,and now we are being hit with another one?
    Thank’s a lot, I’ll remember when the next election is rolling around.

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