Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Ontario’s Eco Tax Not Even Managed

A new tax in Canada’s largest province is so poorly mismanaged, that one of the country’s largest retailers has had to issue a public apology for overcharging customers.

Ontario’s eco-fee (provincial politicians call it a “fee” instead of a “tax” because they snuck it through without any debate – public or otherwise) went into effect this past July 1.

The Ontario government claims the new “fee” is supposed to discourage people from purchasing products harmful to the environment, and it is supposed to be applied to the costs associated with recycling and disposing of the harmful products it is applied too.

Learn more about the fee.

However, it appears not only was this new tax – whoops I mean “fee” – brought in without any debate, there was no thought as to how to manage it.

Canadian Tire apologized today, for overcharging customers on a biodegradable shower cleaner sold in its stores. The large Canadian retailer says it will gladly refund the overcharged amount to customers who bring in their receipts.
Canadian Tire blames its computerized Point of Sale system for the error, and says it has since been corrected.

Why is an environmentally-friendly “fee” is being charged on an environmentally-friendly product? Isn’t the whole nature of the eco-fee to be charged on products harmful to the environment, to encourage environmentally-friendly product purchases?

Maybe this mix-up is because the provincial body charged with managing the eco-fee admits they don’t know what they are doing. Stewardship Ontario, admitted it doesn’t have a way to monitor or control how much retailers are charging.

This brought heavy fire from the province’s Environment Minister John Gerretsen, who warned the organization that if it doesn’t implement an auditing system to ensure correct and consistent fees are collected, he’ll end the program.

That’s government talk for – “hey, if you don’t do my job and make me look good, I’ll shut down the program, and you’ll be moved to another government program.”

(No one ever gets fired anymore.)

Seriously, isn’t it the Environment Minister’s job to create the policies and procedures for his own ministry?

Gee Mr. Gerretsen, wouldn’t it have been a better idea to discuss, debate and then decide how to implement this eco-fee BEFORE you put it in place? Don’tcha-think?

But no, you just had to get this tax into place as fast as possible, without any input from anyone other than your own closely guarded circle of – did you talk to anyone about this? Anyone at all?

Naturally, the opposition parties are coming down on the Ontario government over this mess. One politician even saying if elected he’ll kill this new tax right away.

When was the last time you ever heard of a politician canceling a tax completely?


Me either.

What’s worse, is now our politicians are using our passion for the planet against us. Instead of instituting green initiatives which really are environmentally-friendly, they are instituting policies which just pad their pocketbooks, using the environment as an excuse.

No wonder politicians get a bad rap, and jokes abound about just how far you can trust ‘em.

What will you do next Minister Gerretsen, paint a baby green, toss a sash on it reading “Earth” and then kiss it in front of the cameras for a photo op?

Just remember, if you do that – don’t use the lead-based paint.

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