MPP calls out MNRF minister on new fees to hunters and anglers

ONTARIO—On November 26, MPP Jeff Yurek (Elgin-Middlesex-London) rose in the legislature to question the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) on the new service fee that will be charged on all hunting and angling licences and transactions in the province of Ontario.

“In a matter of days your ministry will introduce a service fee to outdoor cards and licences. This will result in an increase of 23 percent in some cases,” stated Mr. Yurek, in a release.

Beginning in December 2014, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) will introduce a $2 service fee to directly support fish and wildlife management across Ontario.

All fees will be invested through the Fish and Wildlife Special Purpose Account. Fish and wildlife programs improve fishing and hunting in Ontario through licencing, enforcement, scientific research and fish stocking, an MNRF release states.

The service fee will be applied to Outdoors Cards, hunting and fishing licences and draws for which a fee is charged.

The service fee will be charged across all points of purchase, including online, by phone, in-person at a Service Ontario counter or private licence issuer.

The Fish and Wildlife Special Purpose Account currently supports approximately two-thirds of fishing and hunting opportunities in Ontario, the release adds.

Mr. Yurek has been trying to obtain a detailed breakdown of the (MNRF) Special Purpose Account (SPA) since being elected in 2011, however the Liberal government has not tabled these reports in the legislature for the past three years, he said. The lack of openness and transparency from the ministry on the SPA has been a thorn in the side of many hunters and anglers, as fees consistently rise while services decrease he asserted. “The ministry is making decisions on new fees based on the SPA, however access to the reports on the funds is being blocked by the Liberal government,” he stated. The SPA is a dedicated account funded by the fish and wildlife license fees and is required to be used for the conservation of Ontario’s fish and wildlife resources.

“The ministry was quick to release that Ontario’s fish and wildlife resources have increased by 31 percent from 2010-2011, however they continue to raise and introduce new fees to the hunters and anglers across Ontario,” said Mr. Yurek.

The Ontario Environmental Commissioner recently stated that, “it appears that the Ministry of Natural Resources is walking away from many parts of its job to safeguard wildlife and natural resources,” reported Mr. Yurek.

Mr. Yurek asked the minister why hunters and anglers should continue to give them their money in order for the ministry to mismanage their resources. He cited the decrease in moose populations, the decrease in fishing limits in Northern Ontario and the lack of availability of printed regulations for hunting and fishing as examples of how the Liberal government continues to fail the hunters and anglers of this province.

“It is difficult to follow the decision making of this ministry when we do not have access to a detailed breakdown of the SPA fund where these decisions are based from. The Liberal government continues to mismanage taxpayers’ money yet burdens them with increases in fees. The government needs to eliminate the new fee and table the reports for the SPA fund immediately,” Mr. Yurek stated.