Gas stations across Ontario could face steep penalties for failing to display government mandated stickers that display the cost of carbon tax, according to new legislation put forward by the Doug Ford government.
The bill, entitled the Federal Carbon Tax Transparency Act, is currently in its first reading at Queen’s Park.
The proposed law would mandate that every gas pump at a station have a sticker, which they can obtain from the government. The stickers state that the carbon tax will add more than 11 cents per litre to the price of gas by 2022.
The Ontario government told Global News on Thursday that one estimate they received to print 25,000 carbon stickers for every gas pump in the province would cost just under $5,000.
The Progressive Conservative government railed against the federal carbon tax for months before it took effect last week and since then officials have held near-daily events to slam it.
On Monday, Ontario’s environment and energy ministers, Rod Phillips and Greg Rickford respectively, announced what they call “transparency measures” about the carbon tax, which included the sticker requirement.
In response, the federal environment minister, Catherine McKenna, called the announcement “misleading.”
“Now we’ve learned that the Ford Government will be spending taxpayers’ dollars on stickers that intentionally mislead Ontarians about our plan, and do not include the amount of money that people are getting back, or the cost of inaction on climate change,” McKenna said in a statement.
“It’s clear that Doug Ford cares more about wasting taxpayers’ dollars on misleading stickers, than on helping Ontarians save money and energy, or on coming up with a meaningful climate plan.”
The legislation will be enforced against all Ontario pumps with the exception for gas stations on Indian Reserves.
According to the legislation, gas stations are subject to inspection at all “reasonable times” by a government representative.
If the gas stations are not complying, the legislation said individual owners can be penalized $500 on their first offence and $1,000 on their second or subsequent offence “for every day or part of a day on which the offence occurs or continues.”
In the case of a corporation, the legislation states they can be penalized $5000 on their first offence and $10,000 on their second or subsequent offence.
If anyone obstructs an inspection, they can be fined between $500 and $10,000.
“This is a new low, even for Doug Ford,” said Peter Tabuns, the NDP’s energy and climate change critic.
“It’s bad enough that he’s wasting public money on partisan promotion, but now he’s threatening private business owners with massive fines for failing to post conservative party advertisements — so much for free speech.”
Tabuns said both the sticker and the fine should be cancelled immediately.
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In 2019, the carbon tax is adding 4.4 cents per litre to the price of gas.
Ontario is one of four provinces, including Manitoba, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick, where Ottawa imposed the levy because they opted not to impose their own pricing schemes on carbon emissions.
The cost of the stickers has not been revealed, but Phillips said the cost will be “minimal.”
“Our government has taken measures to ensure that all Ontarians know the full impact of the federal carbon tax every time they fill up at the pump,” a statement from the PC government said. “These transparency measures will make sure families know exactly how much the Trudeau carbon tax is added to the price per litre at every gas pump across the province.”
—With files from The Canadian Press and Travis Dhanraj