Liberals force new class of tire eco-fees on farmers, businesses

March 22, 2013

QUEEN’S PARK – The Liberal government has approved a new set of tire eco-fees that will take millions of dollars out of the agricultural sector as a way to pay for years of financial mismanagement, PC Environment Critic and Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris said today.

“The Liberal government and its toothless watchdog, Waste Diversion Ontario, stood by for years as its recycling program for off-the-road tires went bankrupt,” Harris said. “Now, the Environment Minister has decided the best way to sweep this financial mess under the rug is to force hardworking farmers, along with construction, forestry and mining companies, to pay the bill.”

The new fees, coming into effect on April 1, will increase the cost of doing business by as much as 2,200% in some cases. For instance, the eco-fee for a front tire on a harvester combine will jump to $352.80, up from just $15.29.

“To raise eco-fees by more than 2,000% without properly consulting farmers or other affected industries not only is unfair, but also demonstrates the failure of the Liberals’ tire recycling program,” Harris said.

Ontario Tire Stewardship (OTS), an organization with government-sanctioned monopoly control over recycling tires in the province, has run annual deficits as much as $8 million on off-the-road tires ever since the Liberals created the program in 2009.

The off-the-road category includes tires that are used for dump trucks, tractors and feller bunchers – a large construction vehicle used in the forestry industry.

“Rather than address the fundamental flaws with the tire recycling program, the Liberals developed a band-aid solution, charging OTS to develop a cost-recovery model,” Harris said. “Unfortunately, the model the Minister endorsed disproportionately targets Ontario’s hardworking farmers.”

The PC Party, by contrast, has unveiled a bold, new plan that holds manufacturers and importers of tires responsible for recycling, but gives them the freedom to work with other businesses to find the best way possible to carry out that responsibility.

“We understand that if companies assume responsibility for diverting waste from our landfills as a cost of doing business, they also need to manage it as part of their business,” Harris said. “Government needs to return to its role as a regulator. That means instead of setting and approving eco-fees, it should be setting measurable and achievable waste diversion targets, establishing environmental standards and monitoring outcomes. That’s it.”