Ontario Premier Doug Ford is focused on Ontario motorists for votes.

Less than four months until the upcoming provincial election, Ford held a press conference on February 22 2022, with the Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction (how’s THAT for a job title) to announce that Ontario is scrapping license plate stickers, effective March 13 2022.

Further, the Ford Government has promised to issue refunds to motorists who have renewed their license plate stickers since March 2020 (motorists were permitted to continue driving with expired stickers since then).

The government will issue $1 billion in refunds to Ontario’s 7.5 million motorists who’ve already bought license plate stickers, provided they don’t have outstanding traffic tickets. Ontario government officials promise “…a cheque in the mail…” before April 2022, only two months before the election.

Some critics accuse Ford of bring disingenuous, claiming that the move to eliminate license plate stickers is less about helping make living in Ontario more affordable, and more a strategy to gain support from voters in the suburbs, where the majority of people own and drive a vehicle. Revenues from license plate stickers generate $1.1 billion per year for Ontario, and it is not clear at this time how such a shortfall would be reconciled. Asked for comment, Ford stated:

“It’s everyone’s money. It’s not the government’s money,”

Premier Doug Ford, 02/22/2022

Further appealing to suburban motorists, the Ford government announced in an February 18 2022 press conference that it will eliminate tolls from Hwy 412 and Hwy 418. During the previous 2018 provincial election campaign, Ford had promised to scrap the tolls, but is only doing so now, months ahead of the election, to take effect April 5 2022

The new highways were built under the previous Liberal government as part of the Hwy 407 extension, and create links from Hwy 401 to Hwy 407 in Durham Region. Tolls on Hwy 412 and 418 range from $0.29 to $0.89 per km, for the full 9 km stretch (depending on vehicle size and time of day). At this point, it is unclear how much revenue the Ontario Government will give up due to this election-year change.

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