The cost to provincial taxpayers for supporting the Ontario mining industry has increased by 58% since 1995, according to a new report, "Looking Beneath the Surface", published Oct. 30 by MININGWATCH CANADA and the PEMBINA INSTITUTE. At the same time, the industry is delivering fewer jobs, lower royalties and reduced economic activity, the report continues.
Total special provincial spending and tax breaks for the Ontario mining industry (in constant dollars) reached $67.4 million in fiscal 2000-01, compared to $42.7 million in 1994-95. The report found a 166% increase in special tax holidays and exemptions to $32 million in 2000-01, compared to $12 million in 1994-95.
During the same period, according to the report, jobs declined 20%, royalty payments were down 45%, and mining's contribution to the provincial gross domestic product shrunk by 24%. In addition, the public liability for cleaning up closed or abandoned mines totals nearly $900 million.
"The richest vein of gold the Ontario mining industry has ever tapped they discovered in the provincial taxpayer's arm," said Joan Kuyek, MiningWatch national co-ordinator. "Our report found that the Ontario mining industry is no longer an effective generator of jobs or economic development. The industry appears to be addicted to constantly larger transfusions of public cash and tax breaks to look for new mines, while older mining-dependent communities decline."
The report makes several recommendations. Among them are:
Stop giving new subsidies to the mineral industry; they are bad investments of public funds that earn poor returns.
Withdraw tax breaks and bring mining companies' taxes into line with the general corporate tax structure.
Ensure mines pay appropriate royalties, energy costs, and water usage fees.
Reallocate the resources given to the mining industry to remediate abandoned mines and devise economic strategies for mine-dependent communities.
Find out more about the aims and objectives of MiningWatch at www.miningwatch.ca