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GPO leader Mike Schreiner is calling on the Liberal government to end the fire sale of Ontario’s natural resources as the government struggles to balance its budget.“It’s irresponsible for the Liberals to sell off our natural resources at rock bottom prices, especially when the province’s finances are a mess,” says Schreiner. “The people of Ontario deserve their fair share of the province’s resource wealth.”
The Liberal government is looking at selling public assets such as Hydro One and extracting more money from alcohol sales. Yet, the Liberals have made no effort to maximize the value of Ontario’s natural resources, even though the Drummond Report called for increasing natural resource revenues, which would also create incentives to use them efficiently.
Ontario has the lowest effective mining royalty rate in Canada after all tax breaks are counted. In 2010 and 2011 the province’s mining industry extracted metals and minerals valued at $17 billion but only paid 1.4% ($250 million) for these resources. The average Canadian rate for the same period was 5.6%. Saskatchewan’s public return was over 9%.
Ontario only charges 11.5 cents/tonne for aggregate extraction. Quebec charges 50 cents/tonne. The province’s water-taking levy for industrial purposes is only $3.71 per million litres.
“It’s crazy that the government charges $3.71 per million litres for water taking, while a 500 ml bottle of water often costs $2,” adds Schreiner. “There is something wrong with Liberal math, and I’m going to push this government to stop allowing resource companies to rip us off.”
The GPO recommends the 2015 budget include:
- An increase to the levy for aggregates from 11.5 cents per tonne to a minimum of 50 cents per tonne, which is equivalent to the levy in Quebec. Over time, the levy must be set at a rate that increases funding for the Ministry of Natural Resources, the Ministry of the Environment and municipalities to cover all costs associated with aggregate extraction and rehabilitation.
- An increase in the water-taking levy for phase one industrial and commercial purposes from $3.71 per million litres to $13.71 per million litres. The ministry should commit to a review of the water taking levy to expand prescribed users and establish a cost recovery rate.
- An immediate increase in mining royalties to the Canadian average of a 5.6% return on gross revenue with plans to increase the rate of return to 10%.
These changes would increase government revenue by $830 million to $1.4 billion. For the Silo, Samantha Bird