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Sunday, July 18, 2010

GOSH: New eco levies: fees or taxes to be applied to alcohol beverages?

With the launch of Stewardship Ontario's new eco fees on thousands of household products – fees that came into effect without the knowledge of most Ontarians on July 1, and which were rolled out on the same day as the unpopular Harmonized Sales Tax – Stewardship Ontario is at the centre of a public battle. – News story


TRAWNA – GOSH Wine News Services has just learned that the Liberal government of Ontario, A Have-Not Province, in its desperate grab for more money to pay down debts and to continue to offer sub-par services, is about to declare alcohol a hazardous product, and thus subject to the new "eco fees".

Apparently, the Liberal Control of Beverages in Ontario, A Clown, er, Crown Corporation of A Have-Not Province, have been completely blind-sided by this announcement.

Said a reliable source, "We know alcohol is hazardous, but to impose extra fees on its use is ridiculous. Doesn't the government know that people will simply stop buying LCB products and move on to moonshine?" Disappointment was keenly felt in his quavering voice…

It will have consumers raging, and politicians, no matter their party, will be slinging mud. Stewardship Ontario, charged with the responsibility to police the eco levies on hazardous products, will apply to the LCB to jack up their prices.

The big question is: are the eco levies a fee or are they a tax? If they are a fee, then the LCB can mark-up the product and collect extra money through this new mark-up. If they are a tax, then the extra money will be added on at the end, presumably before HST. And the Liberal government will then be guilty of raising new taxes – which is what they have always promised not to do.

Under the present pricing policy of the LCB, fees are marked up but taxes are not. Fees will cause the price of alcohol to rise dramatically, while taxes will be just a moderate increase. The quandary will land either the LCB or the Liberal government in hot water with the public. The oddsmakers are calling for a "fee", which may raise the price of alcohol by as much as $6.66 a bottle.

Brett Grimsby, our top investigative wine reporter, has further learned that Stewardship Ontario -- a government-created, government regulated non-profit mandated with limiting hazardous waste -- will be releasing a statement after the close of business today. "We've listened to consumers, and we have heard them loud and clear. We've started taking steps to ensure that people have a better understanding of our programs and the ways they are funded. We are advising the government that they cannot charge eco fees in excess of Stewardship Ontario's guidelines."

The Progressive Conservatives have loudly denounced the alcohol fees as a tax grab approved by the Liberal government of A Have-Not Province.

Apparently, public relations firms are lining up to bid for damage control contracts…


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