IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Ontario’s Green Energy “Fee”: The Trouble with Taxation through Regulation


  • Benjamin Alarie

    (University of Toronto)

  • Finn Poschmann

    (C.D. Howe Institute)


Canadian provincial governments have broad authority to impose direct taxes by passing enabling legislation in their respective legislatures. Governments may also use regulation to set fees, for example, to recover the cost of services they provide, but cannot use regulation to impose taxes that raise general revenue. Doing so would be unconstitutional. Governments nonetheless sometimes attempt to raise revenue by imposing levies that are deliberately mislabelled as “fees” – past efforts to do so have exposed provincial governments to successful constitutional challenges. This e-brief examines problematic example: the Ontario government recently ordered the Ontario Energy Board to impose a “fee” to be used to fund activities of the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure; this fee is quite likely an unconstitutional tax.

Suggested Citation

  • Benjamin Alarie & Finn Poschmann, 2010. "Ontario’s Green Energy “Fee”: The Trouble with Taxation through Regulation," e-briefs 98, C.D. Howe Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdh:ebrief:98

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Andrew Green & Michael Trebilcock, 2010. "The Eco-Fee Imbroglio: Lessons from Ontario’s Troubled Experiment in Charging for Waste Management," C.D. Howe Institute Commentary, C.D. Howe Institute, issue 316, December.

    More about this item


    Governance and Public Institutions; Ontario Energy Board; Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO); taxation; regulation; unconstitutional tax;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • H71 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • L94 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Electric Utilities

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cdh:ebrief:98. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no bibliographic references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Kristine Gray (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.