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Eliminating licence-plate sticker renewal fee not a political ploy: Downey

'Just because it generates revenue for the government doesn't mean (the money) should be taken from the people,' says Downey

The province's decision to scrap licence-plate sticker renewal fees is not a political move, says a local MPP.

On Tuesday, Premier Doug Ford said the province is eliminating the fees and the requirement for Ontario drivers to have a plate sticker, effective March 13.

While the measure will save drivers $120 a year ($60 a year for people in northern Ontario), the lost revenue for the province adds up to $1.1 billion a year.

Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte (BSOM) MPP Doug Downey says eliminating the fee is all about making life more affordable for people.

"Everybody knows the cost of food, the cost of housing, the cost of everything is going up," Downey said. "Just because it generates revenue for the government doesn't mean that it should be taken from the people."

Downey says the provincial government is trying to find ways to leave money in the economy for things like small business.

"We've cut red tape and managed to find $7 billion a year, that's year over year, for small business. That's a way to help individuals," said Downey, a longtime Orillia lawyer. 

When asked how the government will make up the lost $1.1 billion in annual revenue, Downey said the provincial government is making choices about where they spend money.

"You can see in our last fiscal update projection, we're going to bring in a deficit that's lower than the last one left with us from the previous government," he said.

"We're managing funds and putting them where they need to be, with record investments, education, health care, all the things that matter to people and we're putting money into people's pockets."

With a provincial election set for June 2, some wonder if this is a political promise to get votes.

Downey says it's not and the change is here to stay.

"This is a permanent change, so it's not something that is some sort of temporary piece that flows to people and then disappears. We're making a permanent change on this," he said.

Anyone who has purchased licence plate renewal fees since March 2020, is eligible for a refund.