TORONTO, Ont. -- Ontario Transport Minister Bob Chiarelli has assured the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) that he continues to look at ways to soften the blow of substantial licensing fee increases slated to take effect Dec. 1, 2012 and then again the following year.
Chiarelli told the association he has “asked ministry officials to continue to look at options and alternatives for a more protracted fee increase schedule.”
Commercial trucking licensing fees are scheduled to increase 30% Dec. 1 this year and 40% on Dec. 1, 2013.
“The revenues generated from these fees are used to ensure that our roads and bridges remain in good repair for the benefit of all road users, including the trucking industry,” Chiarelli wrote to the OTA, adding truck licence fees hadn’t increased since 1988.
He also noted he’s aware of the impacts the fee increase would have on the trucking industry and appreciated the OTA suggestion for a phased-in schedule of increases.
For its part, the OTA says it supports the need to eliminate the provincial deficit, and that the trucking industry is willing to pay its fair share, but that the impending fee increases “exacts a disproportionate toll on truckers, especially those with a significant share of their miles travelled in Ontario relative to other jurisdictions.”
“There is nothing to be done about the December 2012 increase, but there are various ways the government could deal with the 2013 increase,” OTA chief David Bradley said. “We are encouraged by the Minister’s comments. He is someone we have been able to work with, so we remain hopeful we can come up with an amendment to the current plan for the next provincial budget.”
The OTA has suggested a longer phase-in period for the 40% increase scheduled for Dec. 1, 2013 and also questioned why certain types of heavy trucks are exempt from paying vehicle registration fees, including mobile cranes, vacuum trucks, concrete pumping trucks, street sweepers and water trucks.
“These vehicles are trucks too; they use the public infrastructure and are owned and operated by private for-profit entities,” says Bradley. “The idea of user pay is that everyone pays their fair share. There is obviously a major revenue leakage going on here that if staunched should moderate the fee increases for those currently footing the entire bill.”