Liberals raise eco-fees on electronics to cover up financial mismanagementJanuary 25, 2013
BRESLAU – In an attempt to cover up the financial failure of its electronics-recycling program, the Liberal government has rubber stamped a series of eco-fee hikes, leaving small businesses and consumers to foot the bill, PC Environment Critic and Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris said today.
“Instead of recognizing the need for major policy reforms, the Liberals continue to prop up their failing program by raising eco-fees on electronic products,” Harris said at Document Imaging Partners in Breslau. “These short-sighted decisions unfairly place the financial burden on consumers and fail to address the root problem: the program itself.”
Currently, producers and importers of electronic goods in Ontario are legally obligated to register with and pay government-approved fees to Ontario Electronic Stewardship (OES). These fees are then passed on to consumers in the form of an “eco-fee” and are collected to pay for OES’s operating costs, which were more than $88 million last year, plus a roughly $20-million deficit.
“Under the current system, OES has no incentive to keep recycling costs low. It knows whatever eco-fee increases it proposes, the Liberals will approve, no matter how outrageous,” Harris said. “Just take the increase for photocopiers that came into effect on Jan. 1. The Liberals have raised the eco-fee charged on these products by 1,000%.”
After accumulating a $7-million deficit in 2011 and a projected $20-million shortfall in 2012, OES issued a revised fee schedule on Oct. 5 last year, proposing to introduce fee increases for practically all categories of electronics, including floor-standing printers, which jumped to $341.20, up from $32.50.
“It’s more than obvious that the Liberals are trying to sweep their financial mess under the rug. They know they need revenue fast to bail out their money-losing partner, OES. The unfortunate part is that they chose to target printing businesses in an effort to keep their latest round of eco-fee increases quiet,” Harris said.
“This has to stop. Ontarians shouldn’t be forced to pay for the Liberals’ financial incompetence through backdoor taxation,” Harris continued. “That’s why the PC Party would scrap the Liberals’ electronics program and introduce a bold Conservative initiative to inject competition into the recycling marketplace, drive down costs and divert more recyclable waste from our landfills.”
Under the PC plan, the government would set measurable and achievable waste diversion targets, establish environmental standards and monitor outcomes. Producers would then be free to determine how to achieve those targets either on their own or through a collaborative effort, rather than having to be a part of OES.
“We believe government shouldn’t be in the business of running the recycling marketplace and imposing government-mandated eco-fees,” Harris said. “It should, instead, create the conditions for economic growth, establish proper environmental standards and make sure everyone plays by the rules. That’s it.”