A series of regulatory and fee changes are set to take effect in Ontario on New Year’s Day, including increases in electricity bills, driver and vehicle fees, and a break for natural gas users.
The province will be eliminating the debt retirement charge of about $70 a year from hydro bills, but they’re also cutting the 10 per cent discount program that saved the average residential consumer about $200 a year.
The Ontario Energy Board has approved rate decreases for natural gas users effective January 1st that should save the average household about $48 a year.
Another regulatory change will require drivers to remain stopped at a school crosswalk until people are completely off the road instead of proceeding once a person crossing the street is no longer on the driver’s half of the road.
Bad drivers who are ordered to attend demerit point interviews will be charged a new $50 fee to cover the cost of the interview. If they don’t pay, they will lose their driver’s licence.
While driver’s license applications and renewal fees will remain unchanged, vehicle license validation, plate fees, trailers and farm vehicle permits will see owners having to shell out even more than what many already consider too much.
The annual validation fee for heavy farm vehicles will see the biggest jump, up to $1,100 from $975. Smaller farm vehicles will go from $123 to $140.
In Southern Ontario, the cost of commercial vehicle validation for business or personal use will see an increase from $108 to $120.
The province says the fee increases are needed to generate additional revenue to support the maintenance of Ontario’s 16,900 kilometres of roads, highways and 2,800 bridges that connect them. They say that until last year, there had not been an increase in many fees in the previous 15 years.
For a full list of fee changes, including increases into 2018, with the Service Ontario website.
The Ontario tax credit rate for charitable donations over $200 increases in the new year from 11.16 per cent to 17.41 per cent.