Ontario driving jobs out with Blue Boxes, green energy – by Terence Corcoran (National Post – December 10, 2013)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

Slowly but surely, Blue Boxes and green energy are driving red tomatoes out of the province

Did the blue box help kill Ontario’s red tomato? Certainly not by itself, but when Heinz announced last month that it was shutting its century-old ketchup-making plant in Leamington, Ontario, the U.S. food maker had already warned against a new provincial government plan to impose major new waste reduction fees on industry.

In a letter to the government in August, Heinz said, among other things, that the proposed massive overhaul of the province’s Blue Box program failed to consider the “impact the new framework could have on the Ontario economy.” The Heinz letter was part of major alarm-ringing exercise from Food and Consumer Products of Canada (FCPC) against Ontario Environment Minister Bill Bradley’s scheme to upload hundreds of millions of dollars in recycling costs onto industry.

Industry currently pays $104-million in “steward fees” to cover 50% of the cost of the province’s pioneering imposition, two decades ago, of a bass-ackward recycling regime. Now the province wants to upload all the costs, a burden the food industry says could boost the cost of the waste regime to $231-million.

Within Ontario government circles, where billion-dollar cost pass-alongs are routine in the energy field and in union negotiations, officials seem blind to the obvious impact on growth and jobs. As the FCPC said in its submission to Mr. Bradley’s office, the food industry in Canada and Ontario lives in an increasingly competitive and challenging environment. The high Canadian dollar, increasing price competition in food retailing, a jump in prices of basic food commodities (oil, wheat, corn) and rising imports are all squeezing food processor margins.

The Ontario food industry faces another escalating cost burden: Soaring energy prices brought on by the province’s green energy program. Ontario electricity prices are now uncompetitive with many jurisdictions in the United States — another triumph from the central planning playbook that is slowly driving jobs and industry out of the province.

For the rest of this article, click here: http://opinion.financialpost.com/2013/12/09/terence-corcoran-ontario-driving-jobs-out-with-blue-boxes-green-energy/

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