Since 2009, the City of Toronto has imposed a 5 cent plastic bag fee on consumers. This means you have to pay for every plastic bag that you require at any retailer in Toronto, be it a clothing, grocery, or drug store. To add insult to injury, since the HST (Harmonized Sales Tax) was implemented in the Province of Ontario, each plastic bag became taxable, making the cost 6 cents per bag. The former mayor of Toronto, David Miller, thought it would be a good idea to impose this fee on his hapless citizens because it would make the city greener and more
Rob Ford, the current mayor, has moved towards eliminating the bag fee entirely. However, we will have to wait and see what the tree-hugging leftists on council have in mind when the issue is brought forward for a full council vote in June. When the profits of the bag fee were announced, I was stunned to learn that it was approximately $5.4 million. Even if a portion of the proceeds are donated, companies are making a lot of money! It is highly doubtful that any business will want to give up this cash cow, and consumers are starting to see other stores outside of the City of Toronto cashing in. I’m not referring to stores such as No Frills or Food Basics, who have always charged for bags in order to keep prices low. I’m talking about stores such as Sobeys, Metro and Loblaws, who are now charging for plastic bags regardless of their geographic location. They are also selling their reusable bags for over $1 apiece, which offer additional profit and free advertising when you carry them. Some cashiers at these premium-level grocery stores have decided that bringing your own bag or bin also means that the customer should bag their own groceries. I’ve had words with both Sobeys and Loblaws cashiers in recent memory, when they didn’t make any attempt to help pack my groceries into my reusable bags.
The greed extends beyond grocery stores to clothing retailers such as Old Navy. You may not have realized that Toronto retailers could have always gotten around the plastic bag fee if they chose to offer paper bags. When shopping at any Old Navy location outside of the Toronto border, I am usually offered a paper bag for my purchases. At several Old Navy locations within the Toronto city limits, I have asked for a paper bag for my purchases and each time, I was told that they didn’t have any. I found that a bit odd since they don’t seem to use plastic bags anywhere else except Toronto.
I have to admit that I now bring bags with me when do any shopping in Toronto. I am not being a hypocrite, pretending to be environmentally friendly. I do this partly because I am cheap but the main reason is because the quality of the plastic bags is so poor that they tend to break before you can even make it out of the store.
I’ll continue to follow this story closely but judging by the Toronto city council’s past actions, I don’t think we’ve seen the last of the plastic bag fee.