The Ontario government is scrapping licence plate renewal fees and corresponding stickers for passenger vehicles, light duty trucks, motorcycles and mopeds effective March 13.
The measure will save many Ontario drivers about $120 a year.
The announcement was made in Richmond Hill alongside Minister of Transportation Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Government and Consumer Services Ross Romano and Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction Nina Tangri.
Speaking at a news conference on Tuesday morning, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said the government will issue refunds to Ontarians any licence plate renewal fees paid since March 2020. More than 7.5 million residents will receive a refund, officials said.
To receive a refund, drivers will have to ensure their address is up to date on the provincial website and that they’ve paid any outstanding traffic tickets by March 7.
Vehicle owners can expect to receive a cheque in the mail starting at the end of March and throughout the month of April, the government says.
The government has also extended the current validation period of licence plates to March 31.
Premier Ford, Minister @C_Mulroney, Minister @RossRomanoSSM, and Associate Minister @ninatangri make an announcement https://t.co/auV7Gom9E9
— Doug Ford (@fordnation) February 22, 2022
“We know the rising cost of living has made many things more expensive and can make it harder for families to make ends meet,” Ford said.
“After two years of the pandemic. People don’t need any more hurdles in the way of getting back on their feet and back to normal.”
The move to eliminate licence plate stickers is a strategy ahead of the June provincial election, sources said. Ford’s team is looking to gain support from voters in the suburbs, where the majority of people own and drive a vehicle.
The office of the FAO told CTV News Toronto last week that the impact to the province could be “somewhere around a billion dollars” based on previous analysis of the registration fees.
The lost revenue would come at a time when the government faces a post-pandemic deficit ranging between $16 to $20.5 billion — figures which come from the FAO and Ministry of Finance respectively.
“In terms of the revenue reduction, it would be more significant,” said budget watchdog Peter Weltman. “We don’t know if that’s all going to be done in one year, if that’s something that’s going to be spread out over 10 years.”
When asked about potential costs, Premier Ford assured the money would go back into Ontario’s economy.
“It’s everyone’s money. It’s not the government’s money,” Ford said in response to inquiries on the cost of the program.
“We’re just putting that in back into your pocket and it’s about affordability. People have been hurt so much over this pandemic and that’s a billion dollars going back into the economy,” he said.
The government has allowed people to use expired licence plate stickers since March 2020 to avoid people gathering in Service Ontario locations.
There are more than eight million vehicles currently registered in Ontario.
With files from CTV News Toronto’s Colin D’Mello and CP24’s Cristina Tegnalia.