For immediate release:
March 13, 2013
Queens Park – “Everybody who pays gas tax in this province has a right to get some benefit from it.”
That, according to Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett as he joined Opposition members in passing PC MPP John Yakabuski’s Private Members Bill, Gas Tax Fairness For All Act, 2013, through Second Reading debate at the Ontario Legislature.
“Northern Ontario, most of rural Ontario—you really can’t go anywhere without getting into a vehicle. Every time we fill up the tank, we’re paying these provincial taxes, as we recognize a portion of which goes to support public transit,” Barrett explained in during debate last week. “There’s no public transit in Haldimand County. Very recently there’s a minibus experiment in Norfolk County, but as far as ridership, public transit hasn’t existed in my riding for several decades.”
Barrett went on to point out that shutting out municipalities with little to no public transit from provincial gas tax funding, is patently unfair given the unique rural transportation, infrastructure needs that also deserve support.
“Everybody who pays gas tax in this province has a right to get some benefit from it. In rural Ontario, our bridges, our roads, our streets: That is our public transportation system,” Barrett indicated. “In fairness, we need to get some of this tax back to support this kind of an infrastructure.”
After PC and NDP members voted to support the bill, the Private Members Bill has been scheduled for consideration by the Government Agencies Committee.
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LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF ONTARIO OFFICIAL HANSARD
Thursday 7 March 2013
GASOLINE TAX FAIRNESS
FOR ALL ACT, 2013 /
Mr. Toby Barrett: Bill 3, with respect to gas tax fairness, is very important, certainly outside of the cities. So many people in my riding drive pickup trucks, they have to commute to work in cities outside of the area, and as a result, we pay an awful lot of money to government in the form of gas taxes.
Northern Ontario, most of rural Ontario—you really can’t go anywhere without getting into a vehicle. Every time we fill up the tank, we’re paying these provincial taxes, as we recognize a portion of which goes to support public transit.
Many will know there’s no public transit in Haldimand county. Very recently there’s a minibus experiment in Norfolk county, but as far as ridership, public transit hasn’t existed in my riding for several decades.
All municipalities should receive a share in the portion of the gas tax they pay by making all municipalities eligible to receive a rebate from the provincial government, not just the urban municipalities with public transit systems. We’re just asking to bring some fairness into this system. The gas tax rebate could be allocated to those municipalities without public transportation systems based on population size, based on length of the roads in their jurisdictions.
Everybody who pays gas tax in this province has a right to get some benefit from it. In rural Ontario, our bridges, our roads, our streets: That is our public transportation system. In fairness, we need to get some of this tax back to support this kind of an infrastructure.
When it comes to paying for gas, none of us are immune to the roller coaster of market-driven price hikes, which makes it all the more frustrating when this government brought in the HST on gasoline, which in that case essentially becomes a tax on a tax.
We see this in rural Ontario, adding insult to injury, that when it comes to the redistribution of gas tax, we all pay. While cities get in line for the rebates, rural municipalities without transit can’t even join the lineup.
Our member for Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke has reported on his previous attempts to institute some fairness. The federal government has seen the light when it comes to gas tax fairness. They’ve made it permanent that all communities in this province will get a share of the federal gas tax that they pay every time they fill up their tanks.
I’ve have raised this issue a number of times. Back in April 2009, the government made an announcement of $9 billion for transit in the GTA. I had an opportunity to ask the minister of the day when rural residents would expect to hear some news like that, something with respect to their very own public transit funding. We’re still waiting for certainly an announcement of that magnitude. I did remind the minister at the time that we pay the 14.7 cents a litre tax like everybody else, plus HST, as I mentioned. We’re well aware of the unfairness of a program that only shares funding with municipalities that are already benefitting from public transit.
We remember that gas tax. I asked the minister not to rub it in. He made it very clear: Some ridings benefit from this; others do not. As I’ve indicated, my riding gets nothing from the gas tax. For that reason, I ask everyone present to support this bill.