Consumer outrage over eco-fees grows
It's only nine days old, but already there have been complaints about retailers gouging customers on the eco fee added to thousands of products in Ontario.
The new fee quietly came into effect on July 1, the same day as the Harmonized Sales Tax, and affects a long list of products including aerosol containers, fire extinguishers, fluorescent tubes, syringes and needles, and all toxic, corrosive and flammable products.
However, some consumers reported they were getting charged above and beyond what the fee called for. Stewardship Ontario, the organization responsible for the fee, said they are looking into it.
Not a tax, a levy: Stewardship Ontario
Liberal MP Yasir Naqvi said none of the money would line government coffers.
"They are levied by the industry, and collected by the industry to ensure the products are being properly diverted and recycled."
Further, Stewardship Ontario insisted the fee is not a tax. Rather, it should be considered a levy.
Blame for not informing consumers
The first phase of eco fees were introduced on July 1, 2008. The fees go to various stewardship councils across the province to ensure hazardous materials don't end up in landfills.
The fees range from a few cents to several dollars, depending on the product. For example, the rate for batteries is based on weight.
Naqvi said Stewardship Ontario has existed since 2003, and just recently more items were added to the program, quietly.
He placed the blame on the organization for not informing consumers.
"They should have done a far more better job in communicating any changes that came July 1."
With a report from CTV Ottawa's Karen Soloman