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article imageOntario Premier, Stewardship draw criticism for 'illegal' eco fee

By Andrew Moran     Jul 15, 2010 in Politics
Toronto - Opposition parties, Members of Provincial Parliament, Canadian consumer organizations and citizens are calling for an investigation into Ontario's new eco fee, which has drawn considerable negative attention lately.
The price of eco fees
Last week, consumer organizations and legal experts agreed that the new Ontario eco fees, which place additional costs on thousands of products, are illegal, according to CNews. The fees increase the price of numerous products, including rechargeable batteries, dish detergents, prescription medications, syringes and thousands of other items.
To get an idea of how much certain items will be, a fire extinguisher will fluctuate between $2.22 and $6.66 per unit, while compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs will be taxed at 22 cents per bulb; however, the old incandescent bulbs will be exempt but Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty ordered those bulbs banned by 2012.
View brief list here.
Public outcry, government response
On Thursday, the Canadian Consumer Specialty Products Association (CCSPA) and the Consumers Council of Canada (CCC) demanded that the Ontario government scrap cleaning products, detergents and soaps from the new eco fee because the containers have been recycled for more than eight years now, according to a Canadian Newswire press release.
Compact Flourescent Lamp has less mercury content than Incandescent lamps
Compact Flourescent Lamp has less mercury content than Incandescent lamps
“Consumers do not throw out half-empty containers of soap or detergent,” said CCC President Don Mercer. “Rather, they buy what they need and use it up. The eco fee, in effect, charges consumers for a service they will not use.”
The Toronto Star reports that the Progressive Conservative party leader Tim Hudak has called Stewardship Ontario a “secretive McGuinty government agency,” however the agency was formed by the provincial legislature in 2002.
Nevertheless, Hudak has called for the end of eco fees because the province of Ontario has already been paying for recycling programs. On Tuesday, the PC leader pledged that his provincial party would scrap the eco fee altogether if elected in the next provincial election, reports the Toronto Sun.
Premier Dalton McGuinty
Premier Dalton McGuinty
Joshua Sherurcij
“This secret tax — the municipal hazardous and special waste program — is nothing more than a blatant tax grab that will hit average families and seniors when they're already down,” said Hudak. “The eco fees are Dalton McGuinty's latest tax grab that were brought into effect under this government.”
According to My Kawartha, Minister of Environment has called for an audit to restore consumer confidence and to apply accountability in order to resolve issues, which is why MPP Jeff Leal has supported the potential audit.
Stewardship Ontario’s implementation, message
Stewardship Ontario, a non-profit, federally regulated organization, has sent out mass e-mails to store advising them how to implement the eco fee, whether it’s buy putting it into the price of goods themselves so consumers cannot tell or add it to the price of the bill at the checkout, according to the Toronto Sun.
Tim Hudak
Tim Hudak, new Leader of Ontario PC party.
hudak campaign
“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. ... 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.”
Spokesperson for Stewardship Ontario, Amanda Harper Sevonty, explained that a $2.5 million campaign would begin once the program has been initiated, reports the National Post.
“Our thinking is the best time to start with the public education campaign is when you actually have a program in place. If you do it farther out and they can’t get involved in recycl[ing], I’m not sure how effective it would be.”
More about Dalton McGuinty, Eco fee, Stewarship ontario
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