Queen’s Park – Green Party of Ontario leader Mike Schreiner is calling on the Liberal government to end the fire sale of the province’s natural resources in the spring budget.
“It’s outrageous that the Liberals are selling off our natural resources at rock bottom prices when the province has a record $11 billion deficit,” says Schreiner. “The people of Ontario deserve their fair share of the province’s resource wealth.”
Mining, aggregates and water taking are all important parts of doing business in Ontario. But these activities also have costs in terms of remediation, decreased resource availability and loss of natural heritage, farmland and biodiversity. The costs of extraction should not be borne by taxpayers.
Ontario has the lowest effective mining royalty rate in Canada. In 2010 and 2011 the province’s mining industry extracted metals and minerals valued at $17 billion but only paid 1.4 per cent ($250 million) for these resources. The average Canadian rate for the same period was 5.6 per cent.
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 $2.99,” adds Schreiner. “There is something wrong with this math, and I’m going to push this government to stop allowing resource companies to rip us off.”
The GPO recommends the 2014 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 provides the Ministry of Natural Resources, the Ministry of the Environment and municipalities with the revenue they need 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 immediately increase government revenue by approximately $830 million dollars per year and by $1.4 billion when fully implemented.