TORONTO, Ont. — The Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) says the Ontario government’s plan to revise its transportation network funding model seems to make sense, at least on paper.
Under the program label of “Moving Ontario Forward,” Premier Kathleen Wynne promised that over the next 10 years $29 billion would be available for road, bridge, and highway improvement projects and for investment in public transit. The money would be split into two separate funds: the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) will receive up to $15 billion for investment in transit, and the rest of the province will have $14 billion to spend on critical transportation infrastructure.
In order to create the funding pool, the government intends to:
- Repurpose the existing Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) that is charged on the current provincial taxes on gasoline and road diesel.
- Redirect 7.5 cents of the existing gas tax. This would be over and above the permanent two cents that goes directly to municipalities to fund transit infrastructure.
David Bradley, OTA president, said the redirection of the fuel tax to transportation projects is something that should have already happened.
“Assuming the allocation of 7 cents per litre that is being allocated from the provincial gasoline tax is also applicable to the provincial diesel fuel tax, it is a better solution than some of the other so-called revenue tools that have been talked about and is more consistent with long-standing OTA policy,” he said.
“The OTA has always argued that the diesel fuel tax, is a road user tax, and should be dedicated to highway infrastructure as opposed to being funnelled into the black hole of general revenues. The Premier’s announcement appears to be consistent with that direction.
“She also announced that two dedicated infrastructure funds would be established—one for transit in the GTHA and one for transportation infrastructure (including roads and bridges) in the rest of the province. That too is consistent with OTA policy. We were concerned about diesel taxes going solely to transit in the GTHA. According to the Premier’s comments yesterday, the two trust funds would be relatively equal in terms of share of the tax revenues.
“Of course, we still have to wait for the provincial budget to see the details and to learn what other revenue tools will be introduced.”