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Government Watch News



Government Watch
  (March 2015 Report)
 


NEW TOPICS IN THIS ISSUE:

CHHMA Lobbying Saskatchewan Government to Make Changes to New Waste Packaging and Paper Stewardship Plan
• Product Care Officially Takes Over Recycling Management of Paints & Coatings in Ontario from Stewardship Ontario on June 30, 2015
• ÉEQ Launches New Advertising Campaign; 2015 Schedule of Contributions Expected in the Fall 
Health Canada Conducting Info Webinars on the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (April 8 & 9); Releases Data on Incident Reports for Q4 2014
Canadian Government Issues First Anti-Spam Fines
Quebec Home Renovation Tax Credit Not Extended in Latest Provincial Budget
 

                      
CHHMA LOBBYING SASKATCHEWAN GOVERNMENT TO MAKE CHANGES TO NEW WASTE PACKAGING AND PAPER STEWARDSHIP PLAN      

The CHHMA has joined forces with a number of like minded associations to hold a lobby day in Saskatchewan in hopes we can persuade the Government to change its plan to execute the following steps in regards to the province’s new Waste Packaging and Paper Stewardship Plan:
  • Exempt certain products such as newspaper (which is probably the biggest contributor to blue box waste)
  • Shift authority to government from stewards to set the actual fees
  • Set small company exemptions at too high of levels
This province-wide Multi-Material Recycling Program (MMRP) to be operated by Multi-Material Stewardship Western (MMSW) [similar to other programs in B.C., Manitoba, Ontario] was to have commenced on January 1st of this year but after the Saskatchewan Government made a number of changes to MMSW’s previously approved stewardship plan (it was approved by the Government in December, 2013), without advance notice or consultation, MMSW asked the Minister of the Environment for a 180 day extension to the start date (i.e. effectively pushing launch date back to July 1, 2015) in order to provide adequate time for MMSW (stewards) and the Ministry to agree to program plan amendments, recalibrate the financial obligations, and re-strike new commercial contracts with municipalities that take into account a revised funding obligation.

On December 18, 2014, the Minister of Environment for Saskatchewan announced a series of exemptions to MMSW’s stewardship plan for waste packaging and printed paper including:
  • An exemption for any business that generates less than $2 million in gross annual revenue, or generates less than one tonne of packaging and paper produced annually or operates as a single point of retail;
  • A two year exemption for all businesses with annual revenue between $2 and $5 million and all larger newspapers. During this two year period, these businesses would not be required to report with MMSW and would be required to pay a $500.00 flat fee.
  • During the two year period, all fees (other than the $500.00 flat fee) must be submitted to the Minister for approval prior to taking effect.

What are the implications of these changes for MMSW stewards?

MMSW is very concerned that the recent announcement fundamentally changes MMSW’s program plan in two very important ways:

1. The exemption of several categories of businesses from fully contributing to MMSW’s recycling program changes the economic underpinnings of the program.Granting some businesses preferential fee rates undermines MMSWs ability to raise the necessary revenue to fund our commitments to municipalities in Saskatchewan.

2. It shifts authority for setting stewardship fees from the stewards that are paying the fees to the Minister of Environment for two years.

MMSW’s stewardship plan is founded on fairness and a level playing field for all involved – meaning businesses pay fees based on the cost to manage the amount of packaging and paper that they supply to Saskatchewan residents. The program plan, as previously approved by the government, seeks to impose equitable financial terms on all obligated businesses ensuring that some classes of stewards are not disadvantaged at the expense of others.Exempting newspapers and mid-sized businesses (with the exception of a token annual flat fee of $500) the government has effectively transferred recycling costs from these businesses to the rest of the MMSW member companies.In addition, with these exemptions the government has reduced the number of businesses that are required to pay fees from the current 370+ to approximately 200 MMSW members.  This requires MMSW to recalibrate the financial obligations of the remaining companies and as such MMSW was not in a position to launch the program on January 1, 2015 as originally planned.

MMSW is also very concerned about the intention of the government to shift authority for setting stewardship fees from the stewards to the Minister of Environment.  MMSW is responsible for setting its budget, entering into commercial funding arrangements with municipalities, entering into financial arrangements with stewards and developing the fee methodology necessary to calibrate fees. The fact that the government has signalled its intention to take on authority for fee setting takes this from a previously-approved producer responsibility plan to a politicized government-run taxation scheme.

We will keep you posted on the outcome of our efforts. 


PRODUCT CARE OFFICIALLY TAKES OVER RECYCLING MANAGEMENT OF PAINTS & COATINGS IN ONTARIO FROM STEWARDSHIP ONTARIO ON JUNE 30, 2015
 
On March 25, 2015,Waste Diversion Ontario (WDO), the provincial oversight body responsible for designated recycling programs in Ontario, confirmed that June 30, 2015 will be the official date when the recycling management of paints and coatings in Ontario will be taken over by Product Care Association’s (PCA’s) Paint Industry Stewardship Plan (ISP) from the current Municipal Hazardous or Special Waste (MHSW) Paint Program (Orange Drop) operated by Stewardship Ontario.

Paint is one of the nine MHSW materials currently managed by Stewardship Ontario.

“I would like to acknowledge the great work Stewardship Ontario has done to collect and recycle used paint over the past six years,” WDO CEO Michael Scott said. “Stewardship Ontario has consistently exceeded their targets for this program and WDO has been very pleased with these outstanding results.”

PCA, in collaboration with the Canadian Paint and Coatings Association (CPCA), submitted an initial program plan for the collection and recycling paint and coatings to WDO in September 2013. The plan was revised in consultation with WDO, after extensive consultations with municipal governments, transporters, recycling service providers and other stakeholders.

When the WDO Board approved this ISP on December 10, 2014, they agreed that the effective date of the plan could be no sooner than June 2015 to allow enough time for all stakeholders to address any transition concerns.

A WDO-led Paint ISP Transition Team, established earlier this year, has worked to create a smooth transition from the Stewardship Ontario-operated supply chain to the Product Care-operated supply chain. PCA’s new program will include the same paint transporters, processors, and collection sites (including return-to-retail).

PCA has committed in its ISP to collect and divert more paint than is currently being collected and diverted in Ontario.  In addition, PCA will:
  • Maintain current collection sites (return-to-retail sites included), while increasing accessibility with more places to drop off unwanted paint;
  • Broaden the range of products accepted for collection under the program by adding, for example, non-pesticide marine coatings and automotive paint in aerosol form;
  • Offer a paint exchange program that will provide incentives to municipalities for facilitating paint reuse at municipal depots; and
  • Provide a national Promotion and Education program, including the promotion of such tools as “paint calculators” to help consumers buy only as much as they need.
“WDO felt it was important to minimize any possible disruption to municipalities,” Mr. Scott added. “We are very pleased that the Product Care paint recycling program will use the same service providers, the same collection, transporting and processing standards, and the same procurement methods as the current program operator.”

As part of its oversight of Product Care’s ISP, WDO will monitor the plan to make sure it meets recycling targets and other requirements outlined in an agreement signed by WDO’s Board and Product Care.

Product Care is a federally incorporated, not-for-profit, product stewardship company that already provides programs to recycle paint in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland & Labrador, New Brunswick, and PEI.

In 2014, on the eve of its 20th anniversary of operation, Product Care was given a new name and a refreshed look.  ReGeneration was born as the new face of Product Care. The refreshed brand sought to better reflect the community it had built over the course of two decades (a generation of recyclers) and establish a more direct, intuitive link to the industry it helped to shape.  See their website at: http://www.regeneration.ca/

Contacts for further information regarding the ISP for Paints & Coatings:

WDO: 1-888-936-5113 x232, marycummins@wdo.ca
PCA: Mark Kurschner, President, 1-877-592-2972 x201, mark@productcare.org
Stewardship Ontario: 1-888-980-9549


ÉEQ LAUNCHES NEW ADVERTISING CAMPAIGN; 2015 SCHEDULE OF CONTRIBUTIONS EXPECTED IN THE FALL
 
2015 Schedule of Contributions
Éco Entreprises Québec (ÉEQ) advised in mid-March that companies should expect to be ready to submit their 2015 reports this fall.

Regulations adopted in 2013 stipulated a 7.5% deduction in the total compensation paid to municipalities in order to take non-designated materials into account for 2013 and 2014 Schedules of Contributions. Another study to update figures on the proportion of orphan materials placed in recycling boxes needs to be carried out in preparation for 2015 and subsequent Schedules, thus pushing back the date the 2015 Schedule will take effect.  An amendment to the Regulation is required to set out the share of financing to be assumed by companies. ÉEQ is closely monitoring the situation and its effects on Schedule development as the issue wends its way through government processes.

Available information indicates that ÉEQ will likely submit the draft Schedule to companies for consultation in the summer. Companies should therefore be ready to submit their company reports in the fall.

New Advertising Campaign
Meanwhile, as part of its 10th Anniversary activities, ÉEQ announced on March 31st that it is launching a new advertising campaign to inform communities throughout Québec about the importance and success of the curbside recycling system. Éric Salvail, well-known television personality and new ÉEQ spokesperson, stars in the campaign, which will be broadcast on television and online.

In the humourous campaign, Éric Salvail plays the role of a milk carton that passes through each step of the recovery process, up until his “second life” as a new product, made from recycled material. Picked from a shelf in a grocery store, he finds himself in a typical consumer kitchen, then into the recycling bin, and finally… he completes his journey as a milk carton, to be ultimately recycled into… a bottle of fabric softener!  ÉEQ wanted to demonstrate, in an original way, its role and that of 3,000 companies responsible for the financing of the curbside recycling system in Québec.

“After 10 years, we are at a turning point in our evolution and we would like the community to know about the contribution made by businesses toward the success of Québec’s curbside recycling system,” said Virginie Bussières, ÉEQ Director of Communications and Public Affairs. “I believe that with this campaign, which is both funny and informative, we can say:  mission accomplished!”

Created by companies that produce container, packaging and printed matter waste in Quebec, Éco Entreprises Québec (ÉEQ) is a private non-profit organization that was accredited by RECYC-QUÉBEC in 2005 under the province’s Environment Quality Act.

ÉEQ develops the Schedule of Contributions and collects company contributions, which are then redistributed to finance municipal curbside recycling services in Quebec. ÉEQ also encourages innovation and best practices in order to optimize the recyclable materials value chain.


HEALTH CANADA CONDUCTING INFO WEBINARS ON THE CANADA CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY ACT (APRIL 8 & 9); RELEASES DATA ON INCIDENT REPORTS FOR Q4 2014
 
If you are still not familiar with the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA) [in effect since June 2011] and your responsibilities, Health Canada would like to invite you to a webinar for industry on the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act. This webinar is meant to provide manufacturers, importers and sellers of consumer products with an overview of the Act and their obligations under it.

Who should attend?
Industry members with limited or no knowledge of the Act.

When?
English: April 8, 2015 at 1:30 pm (EDT) Eastern Daylight Time
French: April 9, 2015 at 1:30 pm (EDT) Eastern Daylight Time

How do I register?
To register, please e-mail CPS-SPC@hc-sc.gc.ca and indicate which session (French or English) you would like to attend. Detailed information on how to connect to the webinar will be e-mailed to you prior to the date of webinar.

If you have any questions, please email Health Canada at CPS-SPC@hc-sc.gc.ca

Consumer Product Safety Report Data (Fourth Quarter 2014):

The latest quarterly data from Health Canada showed that between October 1, 2014 and December 31, 2014, Health Canada received 363 reports on human health or safety concerns related to consumer products.

Industry is required to submit reports when they become aware of an incident related to their consumer product, and consumers report to Health Canada on a voluntary basis.  Here is some info from the last report:

Percentage of industry reports: 56%               Percentage of consumer reports: 44%

Percentage of reports by category:

Categories /  Percentage of Reports Received
Housewares  24%
Appliances  23%
Children’s Products 11%
Electronics 11%
Home & Automobile Maintenance 10%
Clothing, Textiles & Accessories  7%
Grooming Products & Accessories  6%
Sports, Recreation & Hobby  5%
Outdoor Living  3%

Top 5 Product Types Based on # of Reports Received:

Product Types  Number of Reports Received
Telephones & Accessories  23
Cosmetics 16
Ranges or Ovens 14
Laundry Soaps or Detergents 10
Bicycles & Accessories  9 (tied)
Footwear  9 (tied)

Not every report Health Canada receives involves an injury. Over the time period, injuries, including deaths, were reported in 41% of reports received.

Between October 1, 2014 and December 31, 2014 Health Canada received 148 reports that included an injury.

Top 3 Injury Types   /   Number of Reports Received
Cut   42
Irritation Allergic Reaction   27
Burns  17

Click here for further details on Health Canada’s Consumer Product Safety Incident Report for the Fourth Quarter of 2014:
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/cps-spc/pubs/indust/incident-quarterly-trimestrialle-dec2104-eng.php


CANADIAN GOVERNMENT ISSUES FIRST ANTI-SPAM FINES 
 
As the launch of the Canadian anti-spam law neared last spring, critics warned that enforcement was likely to present an enormous challenge. Citing the global nature of the internet and the millions of spam messages sent each day, many argued that enforcement bodies such as the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and the Competition Bureau were ill-suited to combating the problem.

In recent weeks it has become increasingly clear that the CRTC and the Bureau can enforce the law against companies that send commercial emails that run afoul of the new legal standards. Those agencies have completed three enforcement actions against Canadian businesses that highlight the millions of dollars in fines that are at stake if a company fails to obtain proper consent before sending commercial messages, doesn’t grant users the ability to unsubscribe from further messages, or sends false or misleading information.

The first CRTC case involved Compu-Finder, a Quebec-based corporate training company that the government agency accuses was “flagrantly” flouting Canada’s anti-spam legislation by sending commercial emails without consent and without proper unsubscribe mechanisms. In response, the company was hit with a $1.1 million penalty earlier this month. The  company has 30 days to contest the ruling.

The Compu-Finder case represents the first time the CRTC has sought to impose a financial penalty under the anti-spam law, which came into effect in July.The investigation was based on reports of four apparent violations of the law last year between July and September.

“This case stood out because of the flagrant nature of the violation,” said chief compliance and enforcement officer Manon Bombardier.

“They have not made any effort to change their business practices.... People were unsubscribing and they were still getting emails, and some even made additional efforts to contact the company to say, ‘I unsubscribed, I’m still receiving emails,’ and despite those additional efforts they were still getting emails.”

Bombardier said the CRTC has received more than 245,000 complaints since the first phase of the anti-spam law kicked in. Consumers continue to submit about 1,000 complaints a day, she said.

Compu-Finder was flagged for investigation as it accounted for more than one quarter of the spam complaints received that were related to training companies.

Bombardier said the company was notified of the CRTC’s investigation and was given the opportunity to come into compliance with the law.

Complaints about Compu-Finder date back well before the spam law went into effect.

Blog posts as early as 2008 on the website of Montreal newspaper La Presse detail fruitless efforts to stop a flood of emails from the company.

Bombardier said she did not have any figures on complaints filed under the second phase of the anti-spam law, involving computer programs, malware and spyware, which came into effect in January.

Meanwhile, the CRTC concluded its second case last week, this time targeting Plenty of Fish, the popular online dating site. The Commission received complaints that the company was sending commercial emails without a clear and working unsubscribe mechanism. One of the key requirements in the law is that each commercial email contain an unsubscribe mechanism to allow recipients to opt-out at any time.  Plenty of Fish agreed to settle the case by paying a $48,000 penalty and developing a compliance program to address its email practices.

While most of the anti-spam law enforcement attention has focused on the CRTC, the biggest case to date originates from the Competition Bureau. Earlier this month, it took action against Avis and Budget, two of Canada’s largest rental companies.The Bureau alleged that the companies engaged in false and misleading advertising when they failed to disclose numerous additional fees as part of their car rental promotions.

The misleading advertising was featured in several places, including email messages. The Bureau used the anti-spam rules, which contain new prohibitions against false or misleading commercial messaging, as part of its complaint. The case now heads to the Competition Tribunal, where the Bureau is seeking $30 million in penalties as well as customer refunds.

These cases confirm that the Canadian anti-spam law comes as advertised with tough penalties and enforcement agencies that will not hesitate to use it. However, it also suggests that solitary errors are unlikely to lead to investigations or fines. Rather, the CRTC examines the hundreds of thousands of complaints it receives from Canadians to identify trends and suitable targets for enforcement.

The cases have thus far focused on legitimate businesses that fail to comply with the law.

That can be expected to continue, but the enforcement agencies must also turn their attention to the large spamming organizations that are still operating in Canada.  According to Spamhaus’ Register of Known Spamming Organizations, five of the top 100 spamming organizations (responsible for 80% of spam worldwide) are based in Canada.

Since the anti-spam law is premised on both improving the commercial email practices of legitimate business and shutting down Canadian-based spamming organizations, the CRTC should continue to work with businesses on anti-spam law compliance and also begin the process of wielding tough penalties to stop the groups responsible for clogging in-boxes with millions of unwanted messages every day.

Source: The Canadian Press, The Toronto Star (Article by Michael Geist, University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law)

   
QUEBEC HOME RENOVATION TAX CREDIT NOT EXTENDED IN LATEST PROVINCIAL BUDGET
 

On March 26, 2015, Finance Minister Carlos Leitão tabled the 2015-2016 Quebec budget, announcing a return to a balanced budget for 2015-2016 for the first time since 2008, thanks to spending discipline and an economic recovery that has boosted government coffers more than expected.

However not included in the budget was an extension of the LogiRénov home renovation tax credit that is due to expire this year.

On March 16, Quebec’s association of professional homebuilders [L’Association des professionnels de la construction et de l’habitation du Québec (APCHQ)] unveiled the results of a survey conducted last spring with renovation contractors which indicated that the province’s LogiRénov home renovation tax credit significantly boosted renovation activity in Quebec.

“We found that the LogiRénov tax credit had the effect the government was hoping for … Renovation activity significantly increased in Quebec in 2014, and it was clear that the tax credit had a lot to do with it,” said George Lambert, an economist with APCHQ.

Highlights from the survey showed that the tax credit had a positive impact on revenue in 2014 for more than 70% of the renovation contractors that responded.For 21% of those, the impact was a 10% to 25% increase, which is significant given the current economic environment.

The refundable tax credit was implemented on a temporary basis to encourage individuals, be they owners or co-owners of a dwelling, to renovate their principal residence, expand it, adapt it to the special needs of a family member or convert it into an intergenerational home.

The renovation work must have been done by a qualified contractor under a contract entered into after April 24, 2014, and before July 1, 2015. The initial construction of the dwelling must have been completed before January 1, 2014, and the dwelling must be one of the following: a single-family home; a pre-fabricated house or mobile home permanently secured in place; an apartment in a building held in divided co-ownership (condominium); or a dwelling in a residential duplex or triplex.

An eligible renovation project could provide a tax credit of 20% of eligible expenses, up to a maximum tax credit of $2,500 per household.

When APCHQ published its forecast last September, it estimated that renovation spending in the province would increase by about 10% for the years 2014 and 2015, nearly double the average growth of 5%.The higher growth was being attributed to the LogiRénov as well as ÉcoRénov tax credits.

The ÉcoRénov tax credit was another temporary refundable tax credit for individuals who have a qualified contractor carry-out eco-friendly renovation work on their principal place of residence or cottage under a contract entered into after October 7, 2013, and before November 1, 2014.

On March 4, Statistics Canada released its latest data on renovation investment across Canada and showed a total of $12.2 billion in Quebec during 2014, an increase of 8% from 2013.

APCHQ had recommended to the Quebec Government in pre-budget consultations that they extend or make the LogiRénov tax credit permanent instead of letting it expire this year as is currently planned arguing that it provides a strong economic incentive across the province, helps creates jobs and acts as a deterrent to the underground economy for renovation/construction work.

The Association stated their disappointed in not having the home renovation tax credit extended as well as a budget that did not offer other measures to help promote home ownership in the province.

 
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT INTRODUCES NEW BILL TO TARGET CROSS-BORDER PRICE GAP

No further update.  Click here to see previous article.


IS YOUR COMPANY IN COMPLIANCE WITH THE ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT (AODA)? KEY DEADLINE: JANUARY 1, 2015

No further update.  Click here to see previous article.

BILL 91 (PROPOSED NEW WASTE REDUCTION ACT) DIES, FOR NOW, AS ONTARIO ELECTION CALLED (MAY 2, 2014) 

No further update.  Click here to see previous article.



Canadian Hardware & Housewares Manufacturers Association | 1335 Morningside Ave., Suite 101, Scarborough, ON M1B 5M4
Telephone: (416) 282-0022   Email: pwinter@chhma.ca