Canadian Manufacturing

Ford muses about advertising along 400-series highways to generate revenue [UPDATED]

Balancing the budget is about creating new revenues without raising taxes, says Ford

March 10, 2020  The Canadian Press

PHOTO: Doug Ford/Andre Forget via Flickr

Premier Doug Ford mused March 10 about generating revenue through advertising along Ontario’s 400-series highways.

In a fireside chat in Kitchener, Ont., Ford was asked about his Progressive Conservative government’s upcoming March 25 budget.

While he wouldn’t give any specifics — except to say the provincial police delivered a copy of the document to his house this weekend — Ford said balancing the budget isn’t just about finding efficiencies, it’s about creating new revenues without raising taxes.

He said one example is that when he drives along the I-75 highway in the United States there are signs everywhere, but he sees very few along Highway 401 and other 400-series highways.

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“That would create a couple hundred million more for the province that we could allocate to education and transportation,” Ford said. “It’s kind of a no-brainer. So we have to think like the private sector does.”

Ford’s office didn’t offer any further details or clarity on the idea when asked. Finance Minister Rod Phillips wouldn’t comment on specific initiatives, but said he does want to raise more money without raising taxes.

“We are very open to revenue sources that are non-tax revenue,” he said. “In terms of any specific announcements, we’d want to evaluate them and make sure they made sense. When it comes to roadside signs, of course, we’d want to make sure they were safe from a safety perspective and that it made sense from a commercial perspective.”

In its fall economic statement, the Progressive Conservative government said it was starting to look at “opportunities to maximize” government assets through non-tax revenue generation. Examples at the time were exploring naming rights at the provincial transit agency Metrolinx and the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, “with digital billboard opportunities.”

Green party Leader Mike Schreiner said Ontario doesn’t need “roadside distractions copied from down south to make a quick buck.”

“As if the Premier hasn’t made enough gaffes with stickers and license plates, he’s now getting into the billboard business,” Schreiner said in a statement. “The premier should end the ‘Extreme Makeover: Ontario Edition’ and work on a real budget that addresses climate change, affordable housing and public health.”