The OWMA is pleased to provide the following highlights on the 2017 Ontario Budget that relate to the waste management sector. The full budget documents can be found here.
Budget Balanced in 2017
The Ontario government has delivered the first balanced budget since the 2008-09 recession. The Province remains on track to keep the budget balanced next year, also. The government’s total expenditures will rise to $141 billion for the 2017-18 budget year, up from $135 billion in 2016-17 (See pages 239 to 241). There do not appear to be any tax implications in the budget related to the waste management sector.
Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC)
MOECC’s budget is increasing substantially due to new revenues being raised through the Province’s cap-and-trade program. The Ministry will see its budget jump to $1.02 billion in 2017-18, up from $531 million in the previous year (See page 240).
The provincial government raised $472 million in its first quarterly auction of emission allowances under Ontario’s cap-and-trade program, and it intends to raise a total of $1.8 billion in 2017-18. Cap-and-trade revenues will drop to $1.4 billion annually starting in 2018-19.
Cap-and-trade funded projects (each could have applicability to the waste management sector)
Green Investment Fund Initiatives and GHG reducing programs:
The Province has set aside $410 million to invest in measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Supporting Municipal Governments in Reducing GHGs:
The government is investing $55 million to support municipal energy or climate change plans, as well as projects under the Municipal GHG Challenge Fund.
Preserving Agriculture, Lands and Forests:
The Province will invest $5 million to improve agricultural soil health and increase tree-planting.
Reducing and Preventing Food Waste
The government is introducing the Supermarket Recovery Program to redistribute food to Ontarians in need. This pilot program will receive a one-time investment of $600,000 to make grants available to food banks and other organizations “to expand their capacity to transport and store surplus perishable and prepared foods” (See page 86).
Reducing Electricity Costs for Businesses
The government is continuing to lower electricity costs for companies to help maintain a competitive business environment. Ontario is proposing to further expand the Industrial Conservation Initiative (ICI) program by reducing the eligibility threshold from one megawatt (MW) to 500 kilowatts (kW) for targeted manufacturing and industrial sectors.
This proposed change is in addition to the Province’s existing actions to reduce electricity costs for businesses, such as providing ongoing annual support, totalling up to $120 million to qualifying large industrial facilities in northern Ontario, as well as ending the debt retirement charge (DRC) for commercial, industrial and all other electricity users as of April 1, 2018 (See page 23).
Changing Workplaces Review
The budget renews a commitment towards addressing recommendations associated the Changing Workplaces Review. These recommendations will address the following labour issues:
Whether more employees should be covered by labour relations protections and minimum standards;
How “employee” and “employer” are defined under employment and labour laws;
How to deal with the differential treatment of part-time and full-time employees;
What minimum standards should be in place for personal emergency leave; and,
Whether changes are required to better calibrate the protections for bargaining rights enshrined in the Labour Relations Act (See page 69).
The OWMA made a submission on the Changing Workplaces Review last fall and will continue to keep the membership informed.
Supporting Renewable Biodiesel in the Coloured Fuel Market
Ontario is proposing changes to allow biodiesel, a renewable alternative to fossil fuels, to be more widely available as part of Ontario’s tax-exempt coloured fuel program. To do so, the Province is proposing legislative changes to the Fuel Tax Act, which includes adding a new category of registered dyers, who will be permitted to dye biodiesel that has not been blended, mixed or combined with any other type or grade of fuel. This new category of registered dyers would be exempt from the fuel transportation requirements currently imposed on all registered dyers (See page 282).