TORONTO, Ont. – Finance Minister Charles Sousa has unveiled the 10-year, $130-billion infrastructure plan in the 2015 Ontario budget this week.
The minister claimed gridlock is “choking” the provincial economy. The new budget boosts the funding announced in the 2014 budget for roads, bridges and transit available through the Moving Ontario Forward plan from nearly $29 billion to $31.5 billion. The $31.5 billion will be split 50-50 between transit projects in the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area (GTHA) and infrastructure projects in other parts of the province.
The budget also mentions dedicating 7.5 cents of the existing provincial gas tax (with no increase on current rate); Repurposing revenues from the existing Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) on current provincial taxes on gas and diesel; Dedicating the revenue that will be gained from closing the Road Building Machine (RMB) exemptions; Increasing the aviation fuel tax by 1 cent per litre; Other measures that restrict large corporations from claiming small business deductions.
The budget also stated the government’s proposed cap and trade program briefly, stating the government will continue to work with industry stakeholders over the summer months and that a ‘final strategy’ would emerge sometime in the fall. It also called for a new program to expand the province’s natural gas network which could expand the use of CNG and LNG trucks.
Of most concern was the fact that the budget confirmed the government will continue its new strategy relating to non-tax revenue (user fees), which could include things like driver and vehicle fees. It is unclear whether this will affect the trucking industry tremendously.
The OTA says the Ontario trucking industry already absorbed a 70% increase in commercial licence plate fees over 2013-2014.