Ontario’s license plate sticker rebate program offers some car owners eye-popping discounts

A single person received more than $38,000 from Ontario’s license plate sticker rebate program, while some $32 million ended up with people who appeared to own more than five cars, the data shows. obtained by CTV News Investigates.

The rebate program, touted by Doug Ford’s government as a way to put money back in the pockets of Ontarians recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, has sent checks for less than $1,000 to the majority of Ontario drivers, according to the data.

But the bargains at the higher end of the scale, where people who appear to own fleets of personal vehicles have benefited far more than the average citizen, is a sign that the program has a design flaw that needs to be fixed. said the critics.

“Some of those numbers are huge,” NDP finance critic Catherine Fife said in an interview with CTV News Investigates.

“When this idea was floated, the government was talking about wallet issues. But people who can afford that many cars don’t have wallet problems.

“Now that this information has come to light, and thank you for that, I think they should go back to the drawing board and acknowledge that there is a design flaw in the program,” she said.

Reached at a news conference in Hamilton on Thursday, Transport Minister Caroline Mulroney defended the program as part of a series of efforts to address the rising cost of living, including cutting tolls on some highways and a temporary gas tax reduction.

“Our goal was to put money back in people’s pockets,” the minister said. “The vast majority of Ontarians received a refund of less than $1,200. Obviously, there are rare cases of people having a large number of cars, but we are very happy to have been able to put so much money back in people’s pockets to help them when they need it most.

Until this year, drivers had to pay an annual sticker for their license plates. Fees vary by location and type of vehicle. In southern Ontario, the charge for a typical passenger car was $120 per year.

DATA DISTRIBUTION

The program has seen $2.24 billion in refunds issued to just over 7 million Ontario drivers, the data shows.

Just under 7 million drivers received $1,100 or less. Divided into $100 increments, the largest group — 1.87 million people — got between $200 and $300.

But about 21,000 people were reimbursed more than $1,200 — the equivalent of registering about five cars — for a total of $32 million in that category, the data showed.

That still doesn’t come close to the highest refunds, which were in the tens of thousands of dollars. One person received $16,020.50, another $19,096.50, and the largest refund was $38,779.50.

The data is not linked to any personal information, and CTV News Investigates could not reach the person who received the $38,000 check.

However, car collector Steve Plunkett of London, Ont., was ready to share details of his $8,500 refund when approached by CTV News.

Plunkett told CTV News he has a collection of 82 classic General Motors cars, from Chevrolets to Corvettes to Cadillacs in a showroom. He said he tries to drive three cars a day.

“I like everything mechanical. The bigger the better. Big locomotives, big planes… I’ve been a gearhead since I was little,” he said.

All of his cars are registered and insured and ready to drive, Plunkett said. When Plunkett had to renew the stickers every year, his older vehicles cost about $18 per year, and those under 30 cost the full amount for his region, $120.

This year, he received eight reimbursement envelopes in the mail totaling just over $8,500.

“I ended up putting it in the bank and putting it in bills and sending it right back into the economy,” he said. “People with lots of cars spend a lot of money on vignettes, fuel, repairs and taxes.”

Dealers did not get a refund because they do not personally own their cars and businesses will not have to pay the fees in the future, a government spokesperson said.

The government also provided the data geographically. Most of the funds were returned to southern Ontario, where fees are highest.

The postal code area that received the largest amount of money included Prince Edward County, with $26 million, and the second-highest area was outside of Ottawa with $24 million.

About half a million dollars went to landlords whose addresses were outside the province, according to the data.

Ryan H. Bowman