Michael Harris, continuing from his previous day’s remarks:
- All the bill actually does is move eco taxes from your receipt to the price tag on the store shelf. Clearly, Bill 91 is nothing more than an eco tax shell game.
- Still, the Liberals now claim they will use Bill 91 to set recycling targets for paper and packaging in this (IC&I) sector, but we can’t know for sure, because the ICI sector is only mentioned in the strategy, not the proposed act. Again, this would be left to regulation.
- There’s no regulatory impact assessment. There’s just a bill that leaves everything to regulation, and a strategy that was whipped up to fill in for the bill’s many shortcomings.
- All this bill does is create job-killing taxes and red tape.
- As I wrap up, let me finish with our major points of opposition to the bill.
- First, doubling down on WDO’s powers is unacceptable to our party. We believe the Ministry of the Environment should regulate the recycling industry, not an unaccountable agency… Speaker, we believe the ministry is up to the job, and that’s why we are demanding that the minister remove all sections dealing with the authority from the bill.
- Second, intermediary sections of the bill constitute an undue interference in the marketplace and should be removed from Bill 91.
- Third, sections 44 and 45 will move our province in the wrong direction and cannot be supported by our party. We believe that producers and municipalities must find a compromise that works for both groups. It has to work for both groups, and I highlighted the need for that. We should be working in partnership, instead of pitting one against the other. Reach out to our partners in the municipal sector. Reach out to business. Allow them to work together, not pit them against one another.
- Fourth, all Liberal eco tax programs should be phased out now. It’s not enough to leave the potential wind-down of these programs to the whim of the minister. Throughout the bill, we heard the minister speak to the fact that, “We’re going to get rid of them.” When? One, two, three, four, five years?
Jonah Schein, Environment Critic, NDP:
- I think it should be clear to all of us that we’re missing incredible opportunities to actually put people to work in the province of Ontario.
- Landfill just continues to build up, and, as I mentioned earlier, there are huge missed economic opportunities for jobs here in Ontario.
- Yes, we’re going to have our disagreements... but I hope, as we get to committee, that we will be able to forge a bill that we can all be in agreement with.
- Over the last few months, I have heard from many representatives from industry and waste management. I’ve talked with environmental groups and municipalities about Bill 91, and I’ve heard clearly, from all corners, that the current system is broken and that we’re not doing our part as a province to divert waste. I’ve heard from all corners that this legislation is far from perfect, but I’ve also heard a firm commitment from all corners that they agree to the principles behind this legislation…
- We will be supporting Bill 91, the Waste Reduction Act. As this legislation goes forward, we must work to balance and address the concerns that have been raised.
- Ontario’s diversion rates are now languishing below 25%. We’ve lost track of the 3R hierarchy. Sometimes we focus more on recycling than on reducing and on burning waste rather than reducing it. Our progress on reducing packaging has been minimal. It’s unfortunate that we’ve moved away from refillable containers, and we are one of the few provinces without a deposit return program for beverage containers.
- Too much material is still going into landfills, and this is wasting economic opportunities in the recycling sector and opportunities to create jobs in our province. We know that recycling creates seven to 10 jobs for every job that’s created in waste disposal, yet over three quarters of our waste is not recycled and goes to disposal instead. Waste reduction and resource conservation are a huge economic sector; it contributes over $3.2 billion in revenue and 14,000 direct jobs to Ontario.
- Speaker, under the existing Waste Diversion Act, the government has lacked the authority and the oversight to set binding targets and to fine companies who don’t meet diversion targets. The lack of adequate oversight has led to the export or landfilling of materials which pollute our environment here in Ontario and the environment overseas as well.
- Industry-funded organizations have had a powerful role in Ontario’s waste diversion system, and they have tended to serve industry interests, keeping costs to producers down rather than protecting the public interest of minimizing waste and ensuring that producers cover 100% of the end-of-life management costs of their products.
- Consumers have been hit with these unfair eco fees, set by stewardship groups that are unaccountable to the public, which are expensive to consumers and are not helping to stimulate environmental innovation or reduce waste. Ultimately, this system has undermined public confidence in our government recycling programs.
- The funding for blue box programs has fallen onto cash-strapped municipalities, meaning that programs are often too limited and not convenient enough for families to use.
- Still, the blue box program is working far better than the ICI sector, the institutional, commercial and industrial sector, where far too little has been done to reduce waste. It’s clear that the system is broken.
- People agree that companies that produce toxic products or excessive packaging should pay the costs of safely managing or disposing of their products.
- People agree that companies should have to internalize costs, not pass them directly on to consumers, so that the companies, the producers of waste, have an incentive to reduce waste and packaging.
- People agree that there needs to be effective and independent oversight for provincial waste reduction programs.
- People agree that government should set binding targets for waste diversion, with real penalties for companies that do not meet those targets.
- People agree that provincial governments should also lead by example, by introducing standards for government agencies to reduce waste.
- People agree that there needs to be better consumer education and more convenient drop-off locations to make consumer participation easier. We need to make sure that the system works for busy families; that people shouldn’t have to carry their bottles home to recycle because there aren’t facilities in public places or in restaurants.
- People agree that we need to make more progress in reducing waste from the industrial and commercial sectors.
- People agree that we need to get back to the 3Rs: reducing waste first, reusing containers and materials wherever possible, and then recycling the rest.
- People agree that in order to achieve these goals, we need to build a culture of reducing, reusing and recycling and a real vision of a zero-waste society by funding education and community-based programs that foster public understanding of the economic and environmental benefits of reducing and recycling waste.
The house adjourned for the day, and the second reading continued Oct. 3.
Read the entire transcript of Oct. 2.