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PAGE A2 – November 2010 – The GTA Construction Report

Painting contractors caught in Stewardship Ontario eco-fee rollers Exceptionally heavy eco-fees reduced after public outcry — but will contractors be required to pay for recycling services they can never use?

STAFF WRITER – The GTA Construction Report

Ontario’s painting contractors have good reason to be fuming about the province’s environmental stewardship program. Even before special retailer “eco fees” on a di- versity of non-paint products were implemented by the provincial government last summer, they faced exception- ally heavy levies on the paint they purchased – without any opportunity to use the program to recycle the materials on which they would have had to pay the onerous fees. After public outcry, the provincial government changed

the rules and rolled back the July 1 Stewardship Ontario fee increase. As well, there is a glimmer of hope that the contractors may be exempt from the fees meant to fund community recycling services since they cannot use these facilities themselves – they must co-ordinate (at their own expense) their hazardous waste disposal through the province’s Hazardous Waste Information Network (HWIN) system.

The Stewardship Ontario fees, which would have seen contractors pay upwards of $4.03 for paint provided in con- tainers 5.01 litres to 23 litres, have since been rolled back to $3.32. However, the rolled-back increase (after wide- spread public outcry about the general adaption of a diver- sity of fees on other products simultaneously with the introduction of the Harmonized Sales Tax), still apparently requires painting contractors to pay more than their coun- terparts anywhere else in Canada.

In January 2010, Stewardship Ontario nearly doubled its paint fees, first introduced in 2008, from $1.79 to $3.32 (The second highest province, Alberta, charges $2.00 for containers 5.01 to 23 litres.)

Painters discussed their frustration with confusing and

apparently unfair fees at the annual Ontario Painting Con- tractors Association (OPCA) conference in October. There, they learned a glimmer of hope – one painting contractor told the gathering that he had received confirmation that, with proper registration of his waste disposal through the HWIN system, his company should not be expected to pay Stewardship Ontario fees for the paint he purchases. OPCA Executive Director Andrew Sefton says this is the first he has heard this news, which could alleviate stress on the unionized commercial and industrial painters who do their best to adhere to a myriad of complex regulations, paying fees and taxes far greater than some of their under- the-table competitors, who think nothing of cheating the system and using consumer-available hazardous waste dis- posal facilities or (worse) simply ignoring all the regula- tions and dumping their waste paint into sewers or the bush. Painters who may have been subject to what is effec- tively double taxation might also have the hope of obtain- ing a refund from Stewardship Ontario for the fees they have already paid, but this issue is not clear yet. “The impact of the Municipal Hazardous and Special

Waste program was felt by paint contractors under thee Phase I roll-out,” Sefton said. “Despite the cancellation of Phase 1 and the retraction of the increase of product stew- ardship fees on paint, the OPCA’s members continue to be impacted by the Phase 1 roll-out.”

“The initial roll-out and all subsequent communication between the OPCA and Stewardship Ontario have been un- able to result in a transparent, accountable and fair system.” Sefton invited Stewardship Ontario chair Jim Quick to speak at the OPCA conference. Quick is also the president and chief executive officer of the Canadian Paint and Coat- ings Association (CPCA). The OPCA and CPCA are working together to identify and solidify shared positions on issues that involve the painting industry, Sefton said. In an e-mail communication with The GTA Construc- tion Report after the conference, Quick wrote: “The fees that are charged stewards are determined by a fee method- ology which is approved by the government. “Staff at Stewardship Ontario must use the methodol- ogy in developing a fee schedule for all products,” Quick wrote. “Taken into consideration in setting the fees are the cost of collection, transportation and disposal and other common program elements such as education and promo- tion as well as things like research and development. On- tario has more program requirements than any other province. “We are all concerned with the cost of this program and have communicated that to the government,” he said. Quick said the provincial government spent $26 million on educating the public about the HST “but nothing on eco- fees”.

At the OPCA meeting, contractors said that most of the paint they use isn’t wasted – this would simply not be good business – it goes on walls, not into recycling bins. “We’re paying eco fees on products ending up on the ceilings and walls, which is solid matter and much easier to dispose,” one painter said. OPCA Executive Director Andrew Sefton observed that “65 per cent of all the sales go through you guys . . . you are the primary funders of Stewardship Ontario.” Sefton says that OPCA members are certainly willing to work with environmental regulators to “accommodate and provide true product sustainability.”

Businesses and

government agencies who work with OPCA member con- tractors are always assured that environmental and safety requirements are respected and observed – qualities earn trust for association members in the competitive landscape, he said.

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