ontario news watch

Three billion dollars. That’s how much Premier Doug Ford’s two-and-a-half years of gas tax cuts will have saved Ontario taxpayers by Christmas.

Ford cut the gas tax by 6.4 cents per litre July 2022.

The move has been meaningful at kitchen tables across the province.

The typical two-car family filling up once a week has saved more than $850 at the pumps since Ford’s gas tax cut was put in place two years ago. And, thanks to the Ford government’s plan to extend the cut through the end of the year, families can expect to save an additional $225.

When the Ford government introduced its gas tax cut in July 2022, the finance ministry said the temporary six-month cut would leave about $645 million in Ontarians’ pockets. With that period now stretched out from six months to two-and-a-half years, Ontario taxpayers are set to enjoy savings of more than $3 billion.

Ford’s gas tax cut may seem like yesterday’s news given that it’s been in place for nearly two years. But the tax cut means Ontarians have had one of the lowest gas tax burdens in Canada, behind only Manitoba and Newfoundland and Labrador.

And the Ford’s gas tax cut has never been more important as the Trudeau government keeps hammering families with higher costs.

Since Ford cut the gas tax in July 2022, the Trudeau government has raised the carbon tax twice, adding roughly six cents per litre to the cost at the pump. Ford’s cut has helped struggling taxpayers blunt the impact of Trudeau’s tax hikes when filling up to get to work, take the kids to school or head to hockey practice.

And that’s part of the plan.

“With the federal government about to increase its costly carbon tax, it’s never been more important to provide relief at the pumps and put hundreds of dollars back into peoples’ pockets,” Ford said earlier this spring.

To Ford’s credit, he has spent his entire political career speaking out about the damage of the costly federal carbon tax.

“Carbon tax schemes are no more than government cash grabs that do nothing for the environment, while hitting people in the wallet in order to fund big government programs,” Ford said days after becoming premier.

Ontario taxpayers are also in the minority in terms of saving at the gas pump. Only Manitobans and Newfoundlanders and Labradorians also currently enjoy provincial gas tax relief.

More than 400,000 Ontarians are now working two jobs just to make ends meet. Fifty per cent of Canadians say they’re $200 away from not being able to pay their bills. Ottawa has been tone deaf by imposing carbon tax hikes and Ford is fighting to defend Ontario taxpayers from the Trudeau government’s reckless tax-and-spend antics.

Over the past 24 months, taxpayers filling up two cars once a week have saved nearly $850 thanks to Ford’s gas tax cut. That’s real money that pays for a month’s worth of groceries for a family of four.

There’s more Ford can do to lower costs for taxpayers. He should look at putting his $9 billion a year of corporate welfare on the chopping block to deliver even more relief for Ontario families through lower income taxes or a sales tax cut.

But the bottom line is that Ford deserves credit for implementing his bold gas tax cut for two whole years.

It’s good that Ford intends to keep up his fight for affordability by extending the gas tax cut until December. And before that temporary gas tax cut expires, taxpayers will once again be calling on Ford to deliver yet another extension.

Jay Goldberg is the Ontario Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation

The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.

Affordability is the elephant in the room as Ontario approaches this June’s provincial election and it’s time for Ontario’s politicians to address it before they get trampled.

All three of Ontario’s major political parties plan to speak to the issue of affordability in their platforms. The Ford government has been busy eliminating user fees for taxpayers. Steven Del Duca’s Liberals are promising thousands of dollars in electric car rebates. And Andrea Horwath’s NDP is talking about billions of dollars to build more affordable housing.

Every party will try to put an affordability dog in the window just in time for the election. But the best way to help Ontarians is to leave more money in taxpayers’ pockets on payday.

In Ontario, inflation is rising at more than double the rate of wage growth. That means that any gains taxpayers are making through pay hikes at work are being entirely eaten away by rising prices, and then some.

Taxpayers’ purchasing power is declining at a rate not seen since Cheers was the most-watched show on television.

Thanks to rampant inflation, Ontarians are falling further and further behind. Experts have projected that Ontario families will pay, on average, an additional $1,000 this year on groceries compared to last year. Gas prices are up by over 33 per cent compared to just one year ago. The average rental rate for an apartment in Toronto has surged by 16 per cent over the past twelve months. Three bedroom units are renting for about $2,700 per month.

Ontarians need relief, and they need it urgently.

Four years ago, Ontario Premier Doug Ford ran on a platform of affordability and tax relief. His most significant promise was to reduce middle-class income taxes by up to $1,700 a year for a family with two income-earners.

Ford’s promise tried to address the problem at its source. Rather than offering vague promises to help deal with specific issues that might impact some families more than others, Ford adopted an across-the-board approach, proposing a tax cut that could help millions of families across Ontario.

While the Ford government is now talking about leaving more money in Ontarians’ pockets through eliminating certain road tolls and scrapping the province’s license plate sticker fees, the relief Ontario families would feel if the Ford government delivered on its four-year-old income tax cut commitment would far outstrip the government’s move to reduce the number of fees taxpayers are forced to pay.

As Ontario’s 2022 election campaign is set to begin in a matter of weeks, affordability should be at the top of the agenda. But Ontario taxpayers don’t want to see election gimmicks that would only help a small portion of taxpayers or pie in the sky promises that will never be acted upon. Ontarians want to see a real plan to increase the size of paycheques. The best way to get there is broad-based income tax relief.

Ontarians haven’t seen an income tax cut since former premier Mike Harris introduced sweeping tax relief in the mid-1990s. When Harris slashed income taxes, Ontario had the lowest income tax rates in the country. Since then, provinces like British Columbia and Alberta have outstripped Ontario in tax competitiveness. Even Canada’s territories have lower income taxes.

It’s time to make Ontario a leader again. To increase the size of Ontario’s paycheques and boost purchasing power, Ontario’s political parties should present a comprehensive plan to deliver on income tax relief. Ontario’s politicians should forget the election gimmicks and offer a clear path toward larger paycheques.

Jay Goldberg is the Ontario Director at the Canadian Taxpayers Federation

The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.