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Incidents at OTS create sense of urgency to wind up used-tires program

The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change has started high-level discussions with municipalities, industry groups and the waste management sector about the process and timelines of winding up and transitioning the province’s existing recycling programs and industry-funding organizations.

This work has now taken on a new sense of urgency after the Toronto Star published another exclusive report last week about Ontario Tire Stewardship that involves new allegations related to suspicious financial transactions that were investigated by the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC).

FINTRAC, Canada’s financial intelligence unit that investigates money laundering and terrorist financing, has uncovered financial transactions worth millions of dollars that involve an individual and two firms connected to OTS, according to the Star.

Reports on multiple transactions that include international wire transfers and the purchase of gold bars were brought to the attention of authorities last year, and have now been turned over to the Toronto Police Service’s fraud unit, according to the Star.

This story follows the Toronto Star’s report outlining the charges that have been laid against two OTS employees under the Waste Diversion Act for allegedly diverting hundreds of thousands of dollars into personal bank accounts.

Government to move quickly to wind up used-tires program

The Ontario PCs have pounced on this issue, saying the allegations at Ontario Tire Stewardship show the government must move more quickly to wind up the used-tires program.  

Huron-Bruce MPP and PC Environment Critic Lisa Thompson issued a statement on Jan. 12 and an open letter last week, calling on Ontario’s Environment Minister to take “immediate action to begin the phase-out of Ontario Tire Stewardship.”

“With the Waste-Free Ontario Act receiving Royal Assent back in June, you now have the authority to make this happen,” she said. “How many more dollars need to be spent needlessly, how many more allegations of wrongdoing do you need, before you take action?” Local papers ran an article about the PCs’ stance and Thompson’s promise to keep pressing the issue until the used-tires program is wound up.

In light of the PCs’ stance, the charges laid against former OTS employees and the ongoing fraud investigation, the government will likely pick up the pace on transitioning the used-tires program.

The OWMA has continued to call for the orderly and timely wind-up of the used-tires program and OTS, as well as the e-waste and municipal hazardous or special waste (MHSW) programs. The government, however, does have some concerns with the prospect of winding up and transitioning multiple programs at the same time.

In order to assist the government with an organized transition, our association’s committees have developed draft briefing notes for feedback that outline the key components needed for the new used-tires and e-waste regulations. We will be circulating them shortly. Similar briefing notes are also being developed for the MHSW and printed paper and packaging programs.