Standing Committee on Social Policy Committee, April 19, 2016
Gary McNamara, AMO President and
Mayor, Town of Tecumseh
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Standing Committee on Social Policy
Room 1405, Whitney Block, Queen's Park

Bill 151, Waste-Free Ontario Act, 2016

(Check Against Delivery)

On behalf of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and our members, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today and be able to contribute to your deliberations on the proposed Waste-Free Ontario Act.

Municipal governments have long advocated for a new legislative framework for waste management in the Province and we support the introduction the proposed Act.

That said, we would like to give you a brief overview of our key comments and concerns with the proposed legislation in order to improve it from a municipal perspective.

We do support the clear intent of the proposed Act to move to producer responsibility and having producers -- not the municipal tax base -- fully fund the costs of managing products and packaging at the end of their useful life.

The Act allows for an ability to increase producers’ current funding cap for the Blue Box program beyond 50%. This is needed given our years of receiving less than the full 50% we expected under the current Act. Since 2004, this lost funding has cost municipal governments and our residents $233 million. We went to arbitration in 2014 on this issue and it remains in dispute to this day.

There is a stated intention to ensure service standards and geographic coverage are maintained or improved. If packaging and designated materials can be sold anywhere in the province, then there needs to be a diversion program to make sure that those resources are recovered. This will be a key difference between the B.C. producer-lead program and what we want in Ontario.

Although we are supportive of this draft legislation, we do ask that some key issues are addressed and amended by this committee in Bill 151 through your deliberations.

Municipal governments are responsible for an integrated waste management system. Our current diversion programs under the Waste Diversion Act and Regulation 101/94 represent less than 20% of the tonnes municipalities manage and an even smaller percentage of the total costs municipalities incur to operate the system.

The future decisions and regulations made regarding these new diversion programs will impact the roughly 80% of the integrated waste management systems that municipalities will still be responsible for operating and funding. This includes landfill and other disposal facilities, litter, organics, and water systems.

Think you know that we are not merely an interested stakeholder in this matter but rather local government who will always have a major responsibility in waste management.

Therefore, our first key ask is have a formal seat at the table during transition of the current diversion programs and after the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act is in force.

Our other key ask is an amendment to section 11 of the Waste Diversion Transition Act regarding payments from producers to municipalities for operation of the Blue Box program. At present, the current section 11 language is identical to section 25(5) of the WDA.

This same section was the subject of an arbitration in 2014 between AMO, City of Toronto, and Stewardship Ontario. Despite a clear municipal award, stewards continue to dispute the interpretation of this section.

We implore the Standing Committee to amend the language to clearly state that municipal governments should be paid the applicable percentage by producers for Blue Box services based on the verified net costs of the program, as determined through the WDO datacall.

We respectfully ask you to make sure the section 11 language in the Transition Act is crystal clear and non-disputable by parties when you report back to the Legislature.

We are also concerned that the proposed Act only requires producers to fund activities related to reduction and resource recovery. It appears to assume that the designated materials that end up in the municipal waste streams will continue to be funded entirely by the municipal property tax base.

We think everyone would agree that we don’t want to have perverse incentives that move materials from recycling and recovery streams to landfill and disposal. In our view, producer’s fiscal responsibilities include managing the full end-of-life costs for their designated products and packaging.

In closing, we would ask the Committee to ensure that the legislation presents a fair and balanced approach for municipal governments and our residents.

Attached to our full submission are proposed amendments developed by the municipal sector that we would ask you to consider as you develop the critical amendments needed to Bill 151.

Thank you for your attention. Happy to answer any questions you may have

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