Resuming the debate adjourned on Oct. 8, 2013, on the motion for second reading of Bill 91, An Act to establish a new regime for the reduction, reuse and recycling of waste and to repeal the Waste Diversion Act, 2002
Mr. Victor Fedeli:
- What is clear, after examination of Bill 91, is that the Liberals plan to continue to rely on eco taxes and larger bureaucracy to feed their spending addiction.
- Basically, this bill will see this Liberal government taking money straight out of consumers’ pockets in a bid to create jobs in the recycling sector. Again, we all know how little we can trust the Liberals when it comes to big promises about creating jobs.
- The right thing to do here is create the right conditions for the waste management industry, to foster economic growth, to regulate the marketplace and to let the private sector drive job creation. Government needs to set the right conditions for success then get out of the way.
- Currently, Ontario businesses and municipalities split the cost of the blue box program 50-50. But under Bill 91, the Liberals want to empower Waste Diversion Ontario, or the Waste Reduction Authority, as it would become known, to raise the amount that businesses pay by hundreds of millions of dollars a year, without providing a property tax offset. That means Ontario consumers would have to foot the bill for these new costs when making purchases at their local supermarket or department store, while getting no relief on their tax bill.
- The Waste Reduction Act would repeal the Waste Diversion Act, 2002, yet it would continue every recycling program, every agency, every fee created under the old act. Bill 91 would give the Minister of the Environment the power to designate new materials and classes of materials for recycling and service standards, which must be established by cabinet through regulation. The government can then require, through regulation, that “producers”—it’s important that I put quotes on “producers”—meet these yet-to-be-determined standards for designated materials.
- We should start our reforms by scrapping each and every one of the Liberals’ eco tax programs. We do not believe that government should hand over the monopoly control of an entire market to a private sector organization, and we do not believe that the government should impose taxes—and new taxes—on Ontario consumers through a labyrinth of bureaucracy and then claim it had nothing to do with it.
- We in the Ontario PC caucus have a different vision for this sector. We believe we should create the right conditions for economic growth and let the private sector manage job creation, not the government. This bill is so badly flawed that it can’t possibly be recycled. It just needs to be thrown on the scrap heap, along with the tired government.
Ms. Cheri DiNovo:
- My colleague is going to speak at length about this, but suffice to say that we are supporting this bill in the New Democratic Party, but—here’s the but, and there are going to be a lot of buts—it comes after 10 years of incredible inaction on this file, and still there are some issues. Those issues need to be dealt with, and will be, I hope, at committee. We’ll be talking about those issues over the course of the debate in the next number of days on this bill.
Mr. Phil McNeely:
- Ontario needs a new framework, and I was happy with the critic for the third party that they generally were very supportive of this. Of course, there’s going to be a lot of work at committee; I understand that. I’ve read the Coalition for Effective Waste Reduction in Ontario’s submission to the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, September 3, 2013. There’s a lot of good stuff in there, and I think that’s what we want to do. We want to work towards a solution to waste. We have to do something with it.
- It’s not perfect. There’s a lot of work to do yet. There were meetings all summer with industry, and that’s the road we are going, but I think we have to look at it as something that’s a work in progress. We’re going to get it as right as we can, and it’s going to be good for the province, it’s going to be good for the people and it’s going to be good for the environment.
Mr. Jack MacLaren:
- The problem with this bill is that it’s going to tax small business people and consumers, and that’s not what we should be doing.
- Also, this whole plan of setting up an agency at arm’s length, the Waste Reduction Authority—we know from past history with other agencies that are at arm’s length from government, there is no oversight or accountability, or at least not effective oversight and accountability. And when you get into a situation like that, bad things can happen.
Mr. John Vanthof:
- One thing I would share with members on the right here, the Conservatives, is that we also have some doubts about creating an impartial, uncontrolled authority because we’ve run into troubles in the past. We’ve run into trouble when the Conservatives created such a thing, called the TSSA. So we know that there are problems with that. If this body goes ahead, it is going to have to be made accountable. You just can’t throw a body out there and say, “Oh, yeah, they’ll take care of it.”
Mr. Victor Fedeli:
- We obviously want to keep all electronics, tires, paint cans and batteries out of landfills. As we all know, these materials contain chemicals that are harmful to our environment. But we in the Ontario PC caucus have a much more intelligent way of dealing with these materials, which we laid out in November last year. Rather than create a complicated bureaucracy and massive new costs for consumers—incidentally, Food and Consumer Products of Canada estimates that the Liberals’ plans for the blue box and ICI sector will cost Ontarians between $300 million and $500 million each year.
- We believe that government should set measurable and achievable targets, establish environmental standards, monitor outcomes and enforce the rules. That’s it. It’s time to return the environment ministry to its role as a tough regulator.
Ms. Catherine Fife:
- I want to point out the fact that the act does not address diversion rates as it should. Yes, we are talking about reducing. Yes, we are talking about reusing. Yes, we are talking about recycling. We don’t talk enough about recovering. Landfills in the province of Ontario—methane is the second-largest contributor to climate change. We have become quite complacent—and lazy, if you will—in the way that we address our waste, in our own lives and from a business perspective.
- I’d also like to say that we have some concerns around the authority. We would like to make sure that those staffing this authority are not getting paid exorbitant bonuses just for showing up for work, just for doing the job that they were paid to do in the first place. We want to make sure that the oversight for the authority is just as clear as the authority has for waste management.
- There is broad support for the individual producer responsibility approach, in which producers pay the full cost of end-of-life management of their products and packaging.
- The benefits of Bill 91 encourage a greater shift towards producer responsibility. I’ve already made that point. It has the potential to increase diversion rates by setting strong material-specific targets. Again, there is some uncertainty, though, over what these targets will be and the timeline for their achievements.
- There is an expansion to the industrial, commercial and institutional sector, which is welcome. They are part of the entire waste diversion issue. That is a sector marred by very low recycling rates. The current rate in this jurisdiction for the industrial, commercial and institutional sector is only 13%—I think that the overall rate for the province of Ontario is set at 23%—which is a tad embarrassing.
- It is also good that there is a consideration of disposal bans in the bill. This has been used in places like BC and Nova Scotia. Disposal bans can be an effective tool for preventing recycling materials from going to landfills and for promoting innovation and investment in waste reduction—again, a lost opportunity over the last 10 years. It’s also important that viable collection options exist for banned materials.
- Finally, landfill fees should reflect the full cost of landfilling. It should not be cheaper to send waste to a landfill than it is to recycle. There is a lot of work to be done on this issue as well.
- Bill 91 also doesn’t recognize the importance of the hierarchy of the three Rs. We’re going to push that. It should have just been included at the onset. As such, it doesn’t give—and this is a key piece for businesses—priority to waste reduction, nor does it encourage higher orders of recycling that promote the best use of a material. For example, recycling a glass bottle into a glass bottle should surely be given priority over a glass bottle being crushed to use as roadbed, as I just outlined.
- The bill doesn’t seem to address the challenge and lack of uniformity of recycling services across Ontario.
Mr. Bob Delaney:
- Waste reduction is actually not merely a job creator, but an investment attractor. It certainly worked in Europe. No one can call the products that come out of Germany, the world’s leading export economy, uncompetitive. Germany has done this with some of the toughest environmental standards in the world. If the Germans can do it, so can we.
- Some of the proposed waste reduction framework would involve doing some of the following: increasing the recycling of waste and, in fact, stimulating the recycling of waste. One of the key ways to do that, that everywhere else in the world that has been successful with recycling has found, is to make individual producers responsible for the entire life cycle of their product, all the way through to when your product is used, consumed, returned, destroyed and recycled. That becomes your responsibility as the producer. As the producer, then you start to think to yourself, “Is my packaging appropriate? Is my packaging recyclable? How much stuff that I use goes into landfill?”
Ms. Catherine Fife:
- The one thing I just want to say that is sort of missed in the general comments is that we really are not talking about the economic benefits of this bill. Every thousand tonnes of materials diverted generates 7.3 full-time equivalent jobs, $711,000 in GDP and $360,000 in wages. The economic benefits are four times greater than the net cost to recycle.
Mr. Rick Nicholls:
- This bill leaves many important questions unanswered. To start, there are no cost estimates. There’s no regulatory impact assessment. What we do have is a bill that was perhaps hastily put together so that the government could at least appear to take action on the file. Without knowing how much it would end up costing the province or what potential impacts the legislation could have, it’s difficult to give it our support.
- As I wrap up, I would like to highlight our party’s major concerns with this piece of legislation. First, it is unacceptable to the members on this side of the House to increase the funding and authority of Waste Diversion Ontario. Slapping a new name on the sign on the door is not enough. We should be reducing the size and cost of government to ensure our vital services are there when we need them.
- Secondly, intermediary sections of this bill form an unnecessary interference in the marketplace that will end up driving up costs. The minister stated in his remarks that this bill seeks to “unleash the innovative energies of competition in the marketplace.” Upon closer inspection, we see that this is not the case. These intermediary sections of the bill will hurt the market, limit competition and stifle innovation. They will do more harm than good, and should be removed from the bill.
- Thirdly, sections 44 and 45 will not be supported by our party. These sections pit municipalities against producers instead of bringing them to the table to find a solution that works for all sides. As the bill reads today, the waste authority would be permitted to impose new taxes and determine how much business will have to pay for the blue box program. We are concerned that this will only serve to entrench companies and municipalities instead of promoting co-operation.
Second reading debate deemed adjourned.
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