Ontario government plans to re-introduce driver and vehicle fees increases

Published: June 30, 2019

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Last year, Ontario’s the then newly elected Progressive Conservatives froze driver and vehicle fees in an initiative welcomed by consumers. However, the government says it may raise them again and is preparing for a “negative reaction.”

Anticipating a backlash, the government has quietly rolled out a proposal for public comment through a regulatory registry. In the notes, the government says it wants to create an annual fee increases of two per cent for “various driver, vehicle and carrier products and services” … “across the board.”

“These moderate fee increases will allow the government to continue delivering services and move towards full cost recovery without increasing taxes for all Ontarians,” said the posting.

Transportation Minister Jeff Yurek confirmed the government is testing the idea of creating regular and predictable increases. During its government, the Liberals introduced confusing multiple increases each year at random amounts.

“We are looking to see how we can attain that cost recovery model, but in a way that reflects people’s ability to pay and we’re going to try to tie it to inflation, but as I said, no decisions have been made and I look forward to people’s responses on that,” he said.

The government left the proposal on the regulatory registry for five days and did little to tell Ontarians about it. It has now been removed after receiving just two comments. If the government moves ahead with the plan, it would be implementing the changes on July 1.

“It is anticipated there will be a neutral to negative reaction from drivers, vehicle owners and commercial carriers, with the impact on drivers and vehicle owners estimated to be low as proposed increases are minimal and will be spread over a five-year planning horizon,” the proposal says.

Some driver fees were frozen last August. With this freeze, a driver’s license froze at $90 instead of moving up to $97 as it would have with an increase.

“People are fed up with paying more and more every time they need to renew their licence or take a driving test,” Premier Doug Ford said in a statement at the time.

Interim Liberal leader John Fraser said the government is saying one thing and doing another, criticizing the current government for its proposal.

“The Ford government made a big deal about not raising license fees and now they’ve done this quietly, hoping no one would notice,” he said in a statement.

“The Ford government has put themselves in a very tight fiscal box. They’ve reduced their revenues through tax cuts for the rich and corporations as well as ending cap and trade. When revenue is reduced, it limits your options.”