When I wrote my blog post about the Ontario licence plate fee refund, the cheque was in the mail. Last Monday it arrived. Studying it carefully revealed a few things about how this goodie was implemented.
Doing the Math
The covering letter says that the “cheque refunds your licence plate renewal fees from March 2020 to now.” I received $270. My licence plate expiry date is in June and I had paid annual fees of $120 twice in the last two years. The extra $30 ($270 – (2 x $120) must represent the fees I paid in 2019 for the period from March to June 2020. Several people I’ve spoken to have gotten similar cheques. This leads me to conclude that the total refund for the period from March 2020 to now will be substantially greater than the estimated ongoing cost of $1 billion.
FYI, Note the FY
The cheque was dated March 30, 2022. If you know a little public sector inside baseball, you will recognize that this is the day before the fiscal year-end of March 31. This suggests that the Ford Government was ensuring that the refunds would be paid in the 2021-22 fiscal year. This will increase the deficit for 2021-22. In its forthcoming budget, the Government will prefer to incur expenditures in 2021-22, so the projected deficit in 2022-2023 will be smaller, and it will appear that the government is making progress to a balanced budget.
The cheque has two signatures, one an illegible public servant’s (the faceless bureaucrat meme) and the other Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy’s. I’m surprised that Doug Ford missed this opportunity to enhance his name recognition with the electorate – or at least a portion of it.
The recipients of the cheques, of course, are people who own vehicles. Similarly, the beneficiaries of the recently announced six month 5.7 cents per litre reduction in the gasoline tax are drivers. It is said that driving is a privilege, not a right. Beyond that, drivers are a privileged group in Doug Ford’s Ontario. And these targeted tax and fee cuts are an attempt to win their votes. Non-drivers are generally lower income, younger, and live in central cities. Doug Ford doesn’t expect to get their votes, so why help them?
Spending the Rebate
As I mentioned in my previous post, I will be donating the money to an opposition party (more on that in a future post). Taking into account donations I’ve already made, this $270 rebate will allow me to donate $650 now and receive a credit of $380 on my 2022 taxes, so that the actual cost will be equal to the rebate.
Get Better Soon, Peter
Speaking of Peter Bethlenfalvy, the Ontario Finance Minister was scheduled to speak at the Empire Club today about “Ontario’s Economy is Getting Stronger – Here’s How,” but he had to cancel because he has Covid. His topic is the slogan of the pre-election ad campaign Ford has been running using government money. Bethlenfalvy has rescheduled for next week, and I really hope he is better so I can hear his narrative about the Ontario economy. And maybe he can tell us how the ad campaign, the licence fee refund, and the tax cut are making Ontario – as opposed to the PC Party – stronger. Stay tuned.