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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Ontario's Hidden Green Tax

If you reside in Ontario, you already know that Canada Day 2010 will also hail the inception of Ontario's new 13% Harmonized Sales Tax (HST). What you may not know is that you are most likely to begin paying another new tax as early as May.

While yet not formally announced, the Liberal government will be imposing a new levy on hydro bills throughout the province to help cover $53 million of the government's conservation and green energy program. Opponents of this measure call the levy a hidden tax that is unnecessary. While the Liberals claim that the average hydro bill will only increase by $4 annually, this claim fails to acknowledge that the HST will already increase hydro bills by an additional 8%.

Defending their decision, Liberals maintain that the only alternative is to continue operating the province's energy system by burning coal, thus contributing to an unhealthy environment. The money from the levy would pay for home audits and institute a program to help industrial and commercial firms convert to solar power. The focus of the program will be conservation, rather than merely converting to new infrastructures, which could prove to be extremely costly to taxpayers.

Critics of the government's green plan question whether all the affordable conservation options have been investigated, rather than turning immediately to the consumers' pockets. The most effective program would be one that will help the maximum number of hydro users conserve. Furthermore, producers of "green power" appear to be the prime beneficiaries of this new program, as opposed to actually transforming Ontario into a "green" province.

Whether the environment will win or lose in the long term is still most uncertain. What is certain, though, is that Ontario residents will begin paying more for hydro in the near future. Hopefully, they will be investing in their environment, not just in their government.

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